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  • Mark Shaw

The weakness with HR forms, and how to resolve it.

HR captures data on three different categories of forms. Forms to capture:

1. Static data. Such as a bank account number.

2. Record of a meeting or a plan for later review. Such as a summary of a meeting.

3. Judgements leading to a recommendation, then decision. Such as a performance review.


It is the third category that has inbuilt weaknesses where a change of process can make a significant difference.


Such forms generally have the following four sections.

1. Capture of biographical and administrative data. Such as the employee’s name and the date the form was actioned or completed.

2. Assessment using criteria and a rating scale. Such as “quality of work” assessed against a scale from (say) “unacceptable” to “exceeds expectations”.

3. The recommendation. Sometimes this step is contained in a separate report.

4. The decision.


The weaknesses with such forms include:

1. Entering biographical and administrative data is completed manually. Either using a pen on a paper form or keying in the details for a e-paper (on-line) form.

2. The rating scale used for the assessment is highly subjective, with individual managers rating the same criterion differently.

3. The recommendation is independent, and often inconsistent with the assessment. For example, a manager may rate an employee “satisfactory” for three out of five criterion and then recommend an overall rating of “less than average”.

4. The decision often requires multiple signatures, requiring the paper form to physically move from person to person.


These weaknesses can be resolved as follows.

1. Start with an appropriate data base containing all the biographical data. Now when you open the e-paperless form (user interface), this section will prepopulate.

2. Replace the assessment rating scale with behavioural anchored rating statements. This approach of simply selecting from pre-determined behavioural descriptors dramatically increases the consistency of the assessment.

3. Develop an algorithm to automatically create the recommendation. For example, perhaps you set a minimum of four-out-of-five “satisfactory” assessments before the overall recommendation is deemed “satisfactory”.

4. Allow all decision makers access to the data base so they can electronically review the assessment and recommendation, then make a decision by clicking a hyperlink-button.


As well as overcoming the stated weaknesses, other benefits include: faster processing time, improved quality control of the process and outcome, increased consistency of outcomes, automated report generation, electronic record keeping, and ready access to big data.


This approach can apply to existing HR processes such performance reviews, risk assessments, salary reviews, recruitment requests, candidate assessments, exit interviews, position analysis questionnaires and job evaluations, and engagement surveys.


Next time, your business identifies a gap in its HR process, stop and consider a more contemporary solution to traditional forms. It will make life easier for everyone.

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