Restructuring staff reviews a success

When Greater Dandenong City Council reviewed the results of its 2010 employee survey, one thing stood out more so than anything else: the limitations of Councilís Performance Review and Development Process (known as PREP) to meet the needs of the business.

Feedback indicated limited follow-up with staff when appraisals were not conducted, a lack of awareness about the importance of appraisals by staff, varying skills levels in conducting and participating in reviews and a sense of disempowerment by employees in regard to communicating with their manager.

The messages were clear.  Staff wanted more from PREP discussions, for them to occur annually and to have more active involvement to contribute to the discussion so they didnít feel the process was Ďdone to themí. 

Managers wanted the process to add value and to help foster stronger relationships with their staff.

During 2011, an internal working party set about redesigning the process and developed the Performance Development & Planning (PDP) process. 

The PDP process celebrates achievements, sets future goals, accommodates both the needs of the managers and staff members and facilitates relationship building.

It empowers employees by requiring them to prepare for their PDP discussion, requires both employees and managers to focus on what the future can be, and ensures compliance activities are undertaken.

It also forms a key performance indicator, incorporates councilís behaviours and values, and ensures the process can be transitioned to an online platform in time.

The most significant benefit however has been the shift to a conversational style appraisal between the reviewer and the staff member.

Council invested heavily in the training and promotion of the PDP.  Every member of staff, regardless of role, was trained, not only in how to use the new PDP tools, but also how to engage in effective conversations and to learn skills in the giving and receiving of feedback. 

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  Participation rates are at an all time high with almost 90% of staff having a PDP in place. The executive team are monitoring progress quarterly and employees are reporting satisfaction in the new process.