Performance appraisals.  Other than terminating an employee, is there any managerial or HR task more dreaded than carrying out a performance appraisal?

Also known as annual performance reviews, performance management systems and performance evaluations, they can be stressful for all involved, sometimes creating a quasi-adversarial relationship between the appraisee (employee) and appraiser (manager).  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

In this article let’s look at how the entire process can be enhanced in hopes of generating the best result possible: An engaged employee determined to do his best and improve wherever possible.

To engage employees and managers in improving performance, what are the critical components of effective performance appraisals?

The first and most important ingredient is honesty. I addressed the importance in a previous article. Once you’ve addressed the issue of honesty, discussions involving the following thirteen additional tips become more relevant and help create effective performance appraisals:

  1. Clearly identify your objectives;
  2. Have the employee complete a self-assessment;
  3. Redefine or reconfirm the purpose of the job, the duties and the responsibilities;
  4. Define the priority of and set objectives for each responsibility;
  5. Establish specific performance standards;
  6. Be specific when addressing areas requiring improvement, (i.e., facts, figures, work records, reports, etc.)
  7. Be specific when addressing examples of unacceptable conduct (not general references to ‘laziness’ or ‘bad attitude’), cite specific examples as much as possible;
  8. Present, discuss and agree to a “Performance Improvement Plan” if necessary;
  9. Set ongoing goals;
  10. Provide the opportunity for feedback, not only during the meeting but by allowing your employee to respond to the evaluation in writing, detailing their disagreement or position;
  11. Solicit as much feedback as possible not only about the performance at issue but also about what the employee would like to improve, what professional development, training, new assignments and challenges in general she has in mind for herself;
  12. If performance in some area(s) does not meet standards, then agree to set frequent and regularly scheduled performance discussions;
  13. Before closing the meeting, be sure to ask if there is anything else the employee wants to discuss, thereby maintaining a conversational rather than confrontational tone.

One other thing to remember is that it’s always a good idea to remind the employee that the annual performance appraisal is not automatically tied to a compensation review.  He may be disappointed with some of the results of his appraisal; it’s best not to deepen that disappointment by not addressing compensation if he presumed you would.

Effective performance appraisals – They are not possible but, if given the proper priority, purpose and planning, but essential to maximizing the productivity of your most important resource: People.