Performance appraisals are a polarizing topic in the office. Some managers and executives swear by them. Others have been pushing to eliminate them entirely. Ask any three people who oversee employees what kind of performance appraisals work best and you are likely to get four different responses. No one seems to know how to get the most out of performance appraisals, or even if they should still be done regularly.

Both extremes (regular, mandatory performance appraisals and no performance appraisals at all) have some serious drawbacks and challenges. Doing long, extensive, formalized performance appraisals can be a logistical and bureaucratic nightmare. Employees and managers alike must take serious time out of their daily tasks to put together comprehensive assessment documents, which then need to be reviewed by everyone above them in the chain of command. Employees can feel put upon and hard pressed to perform to what are often arbitrary standards. Managers, on the other hand, often feel that their hands are tied when it comes to evaluations. No one comes out happy.

With the latter (no appraisals), on the other hand, you can easily end up with unorganized chaos. Some managers might be great at evaluating employees on the fly and with no formal procedure, but others won’t be. Personal biases and subjective calls creep into what should be a very scientific and exact process. Employees might feel like they are being judged unfairly, and have a poor idea of what is expected of them. Managers might feel lost and lacking in guidance. Worst of all, necessary improvements and changes might be entirely missed.

Integrating EQ into the process may seem like it will be adding to the mess, but the reality is that it can dramatically improve the way you do performance appraisals. As a formalized and systematized process, it can add much needed structure, without becoming overbearing. It also measures more than a collection of ever-changing hard skills; EQ assessments measure the underlying soft skills that make employees better at a wide range of skills and traits, not just whatever their narrow role happens to be at the moment. Here are four ways adding an EQ assessment into your performance appraisal can make your company work better.

1) Get To The Root of Problems

One of the major issues with performance appraisals is that traditionally they don’t really tell you whether the results you’re looking at are the causes or symptoms of problems. If an employee consistently underperforms across a specific task, is the employee simply bad at that task, or is something preventing them from completing it satisfactorily?

The EQ assessment is a deep dive into the personality and interpersonal competency of your employees. It lets you understand how their emotional intelligence may be working for or against them, and gives you specific root causes to address. This deep level of insight can help you spot employees that have promise, keeping you from making the mistake of letting them go too early. It also helps you find an answer to the question “Why is X not working well, and what can I do to improve it?”

2) Get A Holistic View of Performance

Traditional performance reviews have generally struggled with measuring team performance, especially when it came time to drill down to individual team members. After all, if all of a team’s projects come in behind schedule and overbudget, who’s fault is that?

Using an EQ assessment to measure the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills of each member of a team can help you to understand where weak links might be found. Instead of looking at contributions and haphazard measures of performance, an EQ test can let you understand specifically what’s going on inside that team. You can identify problem members early, and reposition them to benefit from another employee’s strength. Alternately, you can make sure that all teams are lead by employees who are capable and strong leaders and can neutralize these problems themselves.

3) Provide An Additional Avenue for Growth

Measuring skills and standard performance metrics can help you identify areas where your employees can improve in their current job roles. However, traditional performance appraisals have had difficulty finding employees that would excel if moved vertically or laterally. Job skills and performance metrics rarely move smoothly from department to department, or up and down the organizational chart.

EQ assessments measure soft skills – communication ability, leadership, objectivity, etc. These are skills that are valuable in any role and in all departments. Measuring these skills can help you identify not just how an employee is doing, but how he will do in the future. EQ assessments also add an additional opportunity for managing employee growth and progress over time. By integrating emotional intelligence testing into the performance appraisal, managers can help employees overcome interpersonal and emotional issues that might be holding them back.

4) Identify Where Appraisals Aren’t Needed

Many business experts agree that the best way to run performance appraisals is to not run them at all. A great manager should be constantly evaluating and appraising employees, the wisdom goes. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to identify the managers that can be objective, focused, and observant enough to be able to oversee appraisal-less appraisals. Traditionally, identifying these managers meant long and convoluted certification programs, classes, and third-party consulting.
EQ tests are already set up to identify the characteristics that make someone good at evaluating people without performing formal appraisals. By giving your managers EQ assessments, you can effectively remove the costs and bureaucracy of performance appraisals on a team level, one manager at a time.