Conducting Performance Appraisals.
If you’re a manager with responsibility for conducting performance appraisals, here are some practical thoughts to consider to ensure the appraisal process runs smoothly and your employees get maximum benefit from it – Have you covered them all?
Competencies – Ensure you have skill sets and assessment criteria tailored to suit roles, responsibilities and organisational culture. These are sometimes referred to as behavioural competencies. Ideally, your performance appraisal form includes a section on the behavioural competencies employees require to perform their role well. If your performance appraisals system doesn’t have competencies recorded, as an appraiser, it makes sense to think about which competencies are relevant for each of your staff members. The employee’s job description should help with this; check the roles and responsibilities required of the employee and then reflect on the range of skills and behaviours they need to carry out their job. You can find out more about behavioural competencies here.
Objectivity – Both appraiser and appraisee should have the opportunity to record comments on performance. One of your key responsibilities as an appraiser is to ensure your employees feel they can have their say during the performance appraisal process. This helps to make performance appraisals fair, consistent and objective. Some organisations invite employees to complete a pre appraisal form before the performance appraisal meeting. This is a great way of giving the employee a chance to share their thoughts. Of course, you should make sure you read the comments on the pre appraisal form before the meeting and then refer to them as the meeting progresses. If you don’t agree with something the employee mentions on the form, be sure to have facts and evidence (something observable that you can discuss) when you bring up the subject.
Communication – Ideally, as an appraiser, your employees should feel comfortable talking to you. Conducting performance appraisals professionally is a challenge at the best of times, it becomes even harder if staff members don’t want to participate. As mentioned above, the pre appraisal form will help but you’ll still need to encourage the staff member to get involved. Open communication between appraiser and appraisee really is one of the essentials of an effective performance appraisal. Adapting your communication style to match the style of the appraisee can really help too.
Training – Ensure your appraisers have the appraisal skills to run the appraisal process professionally and that your employees are briefed on the part they should play. You can find out more about appraisal training here. Even if your performance appraisal systems is excellent, don’t make the assumption your staff know how to use it. Appraisal training is particularly important for appraisers. There’s an art to running an effective performance appraisal and there are certain management skills required. These should all be covered in the training.
Continuity – The appraisal system should enable appraisers to monitor, manage and record employee performance throughout the year. The annual performance appraisal meeting should be just one of a number of performance meetings you have with your staff each year. These additional ‘review’ meetings are essential in order to make the appraisal process a continuous personal development activity. How can you possibly remember what happened eleven months ago if you didn’t meet to discuss performance at the time? Make some notes at these meetings and refer to them when you prepare for the annual performance appraisal meeting. You’ll probably notice a few things in your notes that you would never have remembered. Remember to record good performance and as well as areas where improvement is required.
Development – There should be a clear focus on the appraisee’s personal development needs. Everything you talk about while you are conducting performance appraisals should have some link to the employee’s personal development and improvement. Your job as an appraiser is to support employees and help them to achieve their potential, for their own benefit and also for your team’s benefit. One of the key appraisal tools to use to achieve this is the personal objective setting process. You should endeavour to set SMART objectives with staff members. These give employees a focus for achievement over the coming year. They also act as agreed targets against which employee performance can be assessed. Objectives should always have a a link to personal development.
Download this essential Performance Appraisal Guide. A handy list of the key actions to take when preparing for the appraisal, during the appraisal meeting and throughout the year.