Focal Point Performance Appraisals, or Date-of-Hire?

Posted by Julie • November 6, 2014 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 2 min read

Trying to decide if you should conduct Date-of-Hire (DOH) appraisals or focal point performance appraisals (everyone at the same time)?

We randomly sampled 100 customers and found 81 did Focal Point appraisals, and 19 did Date of Hire. About an 80/20 split!

Why the slant in favor of Focal Point? Both kinds of timing have their pros and cons:

Common reasons for Focal Point performance appraisals

  • Ramp up period is systematic. It’s easy to build energy around the event. “September is Appraisal month”
  • Year-round communications easily standardized, i.e. “EMAIL: It’s time for everyone to update goals.”
  • Training is easy. None of the “For those of you who were hired at this time, do this, but the rest of you do that…”
  • Stack ranking and calibration meetings are easier with Focal Point appraisals. You have data from the same point in time.
  • Easier to change appraisal forms. Need adjustments? Everyone get the new standards at the same time with Focal Point performance appraisals.
  • Focal Point appraisals are easy for admins to monitor. Stragglers stand out.
  • Goal setting becomes a priority.  Fewer people put it off until it’s too late.

The downside

  • Everything happens at the same time. This can be overwhelming for managers with many direct reports.
  • Managers may have less time to do quality 1-1 meetings with employees.
  • If performance and comp are connected, some employees may have to wait longer than expected for potential salary adjustments. (i.e. employee hired in particular month may have to wait longer for next year’s annual appraisal to come around.)

Common reasons for Date-of-Hire appraisals

  • Managers have more time to conduct meaningful meetings with employees. They are less pressed by the bulk of the group.
  • Compensation adjustments happen naturally on anniversary dates.
  • Managers are able to follow-up on goal progress naturally, with less “do it now because it’s appraisal time.”

The downside:

  • Appraisals are constantly happening. Administrators are always getting questions.
  • How do you conduct training? Everyone is at a different stage.
  • Harder to keep up overall.
  • Managers require independent motivation to keep up with appraisals.

*We found some organizations that do their Focal Point appraisals in interesting ways. Instead of everyone doing appraisals on the same date, some of our customers grouped things like this: all Customer Service Reps are appraised in July, all Accountants in August; Manager Smith conducts appraisals on her team in November, Manager Anderson does his team’s appraisals in December;  Last names A-G in January, H-M in February, etc.

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