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Five Tips for Managing Transferee Performance Reviews

Today, I want to talk about performance reviews. We all know that most companies rely on the data provided by performance reviews for numerous business decisions.  When I was in HR, reviews were a useful tool for succession planning, compensation decisions, recruitment and retention strategies, development initiatives and engagement plans. These issues are clearly very important in the workplace, so we never questioned the need for a robust performance program. The question we did struggle with, however, was how to effectively infuse accuracy and timeliness into the process.

Most every HR professional has to face this issue. But, it’s one thing to manage reviews when you can track all of your employees in one or two places. It’s quite another to put the puzzle together when a substantial portion of the employee base is relocating or on assignment and had been doing one job, before relocating and doing another.

Yet, it’s these very employees that need to be monitored.  I fully believe that if they have a skill set important enough to invest relocation dollars in, then they are important enough to go through an adequate review process.

But, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s hard.

When I was at Maersk, we moved hundreds of employees around the globe. When it came to employee reviews, we had to be able to answer these questions:

What happens when an employee transfers to another department, state, or country? 

How is their performance captured? 

How are they measured against their objectives? 

Which objectives are they measured on?

How can transferees be fairly evaluated if they’ve only been in their new job for a short time?

Here’s what I found to be best practice:

  •  Gather information from former managers. Former and current managers will need to work together to ensure that your transferee is getting an adequate review. Have the former manager provide comments and feedback on whether the employee met the objectives of the former position.  Like any review, the objectives of the former position should be evaluated and documented. All of this information should then be shared with the current manager.
  • New managers should complete the review. New managers should compile their own comments and feedback on performance related to the new position. Since the new manager will be conducting and documenting the performance review, it is his/her responsibility to incorporate the former manager’s feedback and comments into the formal document before it is submitted to HR.
  • Track progress with smart IT… Once of the hardest parts of compiling reviews for transferees is ensuring that the right information is being shared. In my former position, we were able to run reports to determine what part of the review process the employee/manager was in.  For example, HR could see if the performance form was created in the system and if the manager completed their part. To make the managers accountable, we set the system up so that the employee would have to acknowledge receiving the review (this was done after the manager/employee had a discussion).  Once the manager and employee both confirmed the appraisal in the system, it was considered ‘finalized’ and an electronic copy was saved for future reference.
  • …But be prepared for snags. One huge challenge we had was that, globally, the company used different IT systems.  So we (the US) had to keep paper copies of appraisals for colleagues who were overseas, since we did not have access to their systems.  That was difficult and required lots of follow-up to be sure the American expatriates received performance feedback and that it was documented. Ultimately, we had to stay committed to the project no matter what.
  • Consider cultural differences. HR must be aware of the cultural differences between managers and how it might impact the review process. Globally speaking, the US had the reputation of being too easy of a performance grader.  This is always a challenge and there is not one-size-fits-all solution.  Cultural training and HR mitigation are good tools for helping manage this problem if you sense that it’s impacting the integrity of reviews.

In short, the transferee should be evaluated on their performance for the full year, even if their time was split between two positions.  Make sure controls are in place to manage the process. Most importantly ensure there is proper and regular communication to managers on the importance of an accurate review, as well as the process needed to collect them.


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