Performance appraisal is one of the most important ways an organization can ensure the continued best performance practices of its employees and promote their future development. All employees need to know where they stand concerning their job performances…Each organization has its own specific way of planning, organizing, conducting and evaluating the performance appraisal process.
For more than four decades, Motivation Management Service has worked with millions of professionals and various organizations. We have conducted profound research on the employee appraisal system and its effects on the financial and program components of an organization. We discovered how to inspire the best performance through recognition and reward, and adopt a supportive approach to correcting mistakes and disciplining employees. We have explored a structure and some guidelines for conducting successful Performance Appraisal.
Most people have a fair amount of discomfort when they think about conducting a performance appraisal. The reason is that it is rare that you have only glowing reports to communicate about an employee. When they consider pointing out required attitude or behavior changes, giving constructive feedback, and enumerating ways for an employee to improve, they would rather avoid the subject all together. The purpose of the performance appraisal is to solidify your coach/mentor relationship so that the employee…
- is open and willing to receive both positive and negative feedback from you.
- perceives him/herself similar to how others see him/her (an accurate self- assessment).
- learns from his/her mistakes and takes positive action to correct past errors.
- becomes re-motivated to seize the challenges in front of him/her with clarity, direction and new confidence.
The Performance Appraisal is a special time set aside without interruption to give relevant, meaningful and timely feedback to an employee about his/her performance.
During the performance appraisal meeting, the manager will discuss areas of responsibility, review and assess agreed upon objectives (to determine whether they have been met or not), to see if there is a need for additional support, and to set new objectives for the next upcoming period.
There are three purposes for performance appraisal, and they are:
- Giving and receiving honest, relevant, and meaningful feedback regarding his/her effectiveness on the job.
- Assessing with him/her whether his/her objectives (set by both of you) have been met.
- Setting new realistic job-related objectives for the next upcoming unit of time.
Let’s address what NOT to do. We are going to focus on what pitfalls many managers make, that you want to be conscious of, and therefore avoid!
The first pitfall is called “Glossing over” which is in effect a rubber stamp. Glossing over is commonly committed by a manager who has a fear of confrontation. He either doesn’t know what to say, or he tries to do the minimum in order to get the whole process over and done with.
The second pitfall is being overtly critical. This type of appraisal usually comes from a Negaholic boss. A Negaholic is someone who focuses only on Negative aspects and has difficulty noticing anything positive. This comes from taking for granted everything an employee does “right” and looking for behaviors that are above and beyond the job description.
The third pitfall is an incomplete assessment. The manager will focus on symptoms, not causes, ignore big issues, and superficially assess the employee. This is usually the action of a manager who has not sufficiently prepared for the appraisal, or they have never been trained to do them properly.
Number four on the list of common pitfalls is superimposing your view. This is caused by telling the employee your approach is best and putting your suggestions in front of theirs. Ideally, they should be agreed upon together.
Perhaps the manager likes to hear his own voice, or he believes he knows better than the employee; he might want to save time by lecturing rather than listening. This approach dis-empowers the employee and doesn’t encourage them to think, participate, or be involved in their own developmental process.
Number five is vagueness or never making clear what you expect. If the expectations are not clearly understood and agreed upon, it is difficult to use mutually agreed upon objectives as the key reference point. They may have a hard time dealing with specifics, have memory issues, are forgetful, or are overwhelmed with task-saturation.
The last pitfall is prioritizing or putting off the appraisal.
This thought process suggests that the manager doesn’t value the appraisal process, considers it is a waste of time, and doesn’t subscribe to “career-pathing” employees.
In addition to the other classic pitfalls, here are 10 more that can easily be avoided.
- Spending too much time on one annual performance appraisal than on ongoing relationship building through consistent communication.
- Comparing or pitting employees against each other.
- Focusing on blame rather than on improvement.
- Believing that the actual “form” is the appraisal.
- Ceasing performance appraisals when an employee’s salary is no longer tied to the appraisal.
- Believing employees are in a position to accurately assess staff.
- Canceling or postponing appraisal meetings.
- Measuring or appraising the trivial.
- Surprising the employees during appraisal.
- Thinking all employees and all jobs should be assessed in exactly the same way using the same procedures.
In order to conduct the Performance Appraisal in the best possible manner and to obtain optimum results consider addressing the process in three units of time…before, during, and after the appraisal.
First before the appraisal happens, there is preparation to be done. Here is your checklist.
- Review the previous list of objectives
- Review the employees file
- Review all commendations
- Review any disciplinary write-ups
- Solicit input from other managers who interface with this employee on his/her performance
- Plan and note what you want to address
- Have your papers organized
- Schedule the date and time and let the employee know when it is
The day of the appraisal make sure that the environment is set up for a positive outcome.
Here is your checklist:
- Schedule a conference room if necessary.
- Inform staff that you are not to be interrupted.
- Ask that all calls be referred to someone else.
- Have all your papers organized in advance.
- Make sure to confirm the date and time with the employee.
- Meet with HR to know what you can offer the employee in terms of position, compensation, benefits, etc.
- Turn off all mobile phones prior to meeting.
You may already know how to set the stage, but in case you have forgotten, here is a structural reminder of six key points…
- Welcome the employee
- Clarify time allotted for the meeting
- Set the stage with the purpose and desired outcome of the meeting
- Ask the employee how he/she feels about the meeting
- Propose an agenda
- Follow the agenda
Here is your agenda for the appraisal. The reason for this is to avoid guesswork and to ensure that everything necessary has been covered.
- Review last year’s objectives
- Review accomplishments & successes
- Address challenges & setbacks
- Discuss career path updates & changes
- Ask for clarification re: how the employee wants to handle the challenges
- Establish next objectives
- Ask what support you can offer
- Set follow up dates and accountabilities
- Address feelings and feedback regarding the meeting
At the end of the meeting, make sure that you close on the right note. You also want to document everything that happened so that the next time you meet you have a reference point and can pick up where you left off.
The items include:
- Thank the employee for coming
- Document the meeting
- E-mail what was agreed to the employee
- Make sure the file is updated
- Send a copy of appraisal to HR
- Set the follow up date on your calendar
To summarize our training, here are six key points:
- Successful performance appraisals are a function of effective relationships
- All people value being respected. No employee will object to receiving too much respect
- Clarifying expectations is important. When people know how to play the game, they are grateful. Removing ambiguity and uncertainty is always appreciated.
- Agreeing on the game plan is critical
- Being on the same page really counts and is another relationship builder.
- Mini performance assessments should happen frequently in order to ensure the annual is pleasant, and valuable for both people.
All people like to know where they stand. If you have built a solid relationship with your employees, and you give them meaningful, relevant, and timely feedback that they can easily integrate, you will then ideally have happy, focused, and satisfied employees for a very long time.
Anyone responsible for conducting performance reviews can take Performance Appraisal Training. MMS Performance Appraisal Training program is designed to document the expectations of individual and organizational performance, provide a meaningful Performance Appraisal process by which employees can be rewarded for noteworthy contributions to the organization, and provide a mechanism to improve individual/organizational performance as necessary.