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Is it possible to have a global appraisal system?

07 December 2016

As more and more companies organise themselves in regional or even global structures, the need for some form of global benchmarking of performance becomes ever more pressing but is it really possible to have one system that can accurately grade performance across the USA, China and Nigeria?

The problems start to arise as soon as you try to set benchmarks for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in any interpersonal situation.  The complexities of global cultural differences mean that what is considered poor behaviour in one country is likely to be viewed positively in another:

  • Is direct and honest feedback to a co-worker good practice?  It probably is in the Netherlands but just as probably isn’t in Japan (or even the UK).
  • Is individual initiative to be encouraged?  Definitely in the USA but less so in India.

So who chooses what is deemed to be ‘good’ behaviour and what a corporation wants to encourage in its employees?  In my experience it is usually the Head Office who calls the shots and who decides positive from negative, good from bad – and then doesn’t understand when it is accused of latter-day colonialism.

How globally savvy and well-equipped with cultural knowledge and empathy are key HR members and how open are they to challenge to some of their basic beliefs in this area?

These are all difficult questions but ones that need addressing.  A recent  survey, stated that only 3% of respondents from a sample of 1056 global companies said their current appraisal systems were delivering value – so something is obviously not working at the moment.

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