Performing annual employee appraisals can be one of the most challenging functions a manager may have. It also happens to be one of the most important. Conducting a well organised and professional performance appraisal can assist in turning around problem employees as well as encouraging good or average employees to perform at their best.
The overall purpose is to determine:
- What the employee needs to achieve.
- What has to be developed to allow them to achieve it.
Experts have looked at what elements make up a successful and productive employee appraisal. These include:
- Conduct the appraisal in a timely fashion. i.e. close to the employees review date.
- Put together a balanced evaluation of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Review key performance areas especially where an employee has performed well. A bit of praise can go a long way in terms of morale and motivation.
- Make criticisms of an employees work in a positive way. Focus on making improvements and don’t dwell on the negatives.
Appraisals are an opportunity to find out what adversely affects people and what positively affects them. The appraisal should focus on:
- Setting achievable goals.
- Improving skills and talents.
- Checking resource levels.
- Improving communications.
- Getting feedback on management’s performance.
- Changing behaviours not personalities.
There are 3 main approaches to conducting performance appraisals.
- Strengths and Weaknesses
- Critical Incident.
A combination of all 3 approaches is required.
Focusing on objectives helps monitor outputs i.e. what people have achieved.
Focusing on strengths and weaknesses helps monitor inputs i.e. the skills and knowledge people used to achieve objectives.
Focusing on critical incidents helps find out why good and bad performance has occurred.
- Choose a neutral location to conduct the appraisal interview.
- Arrange the room to best effect i.e. non confrontational.
- Give a week to 10 days notice of the interview.
- Set an agenda and give the employee an opportunity to add to it i.e share the construction of the interview.
The performance appraisal interview needs to be structured. Initially the manager outlines the purpose of the meeting and signals that the formal process has begun. However, try to ensure that the appraisal interview does not become “over formal”.
- Ask open and non judgemental questions.
- Be careful as to how the conversation develops and try not to fall into a pattern of praise followed by criticism.
- Use the agenda to stay on track.
- Make sure all the ground is covered.
- Provide the employee with an opportunity to lead the discussion in a direction he or she chooses.
- Explore opportunities for promotion and extending responsibilities.
- Investigate unusual poor performance.
- Finish on a positive note.
- Re-cap on the Action plan.
- Thank the employee for their time and efforts.
The outcome of any formal appraisal discussion should include a development plan. Bad news should never be a surprise. Always maintain a professional demeanour and don’t let the discussion get personal.
The main methods used to record performance are:
- Combination of both
Performance areas chosen for rating must be relevant to job requirements.
Ratings must be defined as unambiguously as possible.
Avoid ratings which could be interpreted as poor when they are actually satisfactory.
Choose ratings which concentrate on strengths and development.
Avoid using a rating composed arithmetically from individual ratings.
Leave an area for comments.
A Sample Employee Appraisal Form is outlined in the Templates section of this website.