Many managers (and indeed staff!), dread Performance Appraisals, yet they are a valuable tool in helping people understand how they are currently performing as well as what they need to focus on to improve performance. Often the problem is that managers just don’t have the confidence or haven’t received adequate training to conduct appraisals properly. Sadly, the consequence of this is that too often staff leave an appraisal meeting feeling de-motivated or even angry and managers wonder why they didn’t get the result they wanted!
If you struggle with conducting appraisals, try using the following hints and tips to dramatically improve your ability to conduct an effective performance appraisal.
- Understand your responsibilities, as a manager it is your responsibility to prepare fully and take a lead role during the appraisal meeting in a way that that encourages the individual to participate fully.
- Organise review meetings for a mutually convenient time that allows both parties to prepare fully for the development and performance discussions.Don’t do it at 4pm on a Friday in McDonalds!
- Prepare an informal agenda outlining any critical steps you want to cover.Show this to the individual at the start of the review.
- Ensure that the room is arranged informally and is free from all interruptions – including the telephone – throughout the discussions.
- Keep the discussions positive and use open questions to encourage discussion.
- Ensure that any feedback you give supporting your assessment of an individual is specific (NOT – you did that well/badly!).Stick to observations and facts not inferences.Provide examples of when and how specific work standards were or were not met.If you cannot be specific and factual do not use it.
- Avoid overstating your case – do not use words such as ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘every time’ and ‘all the time’.Using these words will overstate your points.Overstatements are invariably untrue and people tend to fight them.
- Consider what training or personal development the individual has been undertaken in the past.How have they used their learning?What does this tell you about their commitment to learning and improvement?
- When preparing a learning plan, make sure it doesn’t cover more than the next 12 months.
- Finally, avoid “back-to-back” meetings.Give yourself time to reflect on what has been said and also time to prepare for the next meeting.
Performance appraisals will always be a source of challenge and pressure for a manager. However, an effective appraisal is a vital part of improving an employee’s performance. By following the hints and tips above, your chances of getting the right result will be dramatically improved.