Performance appraisal systems across the world tend to be thought of as inadequate, biased and even unnecessary. Regardless of which organization they work in, no matter the industry or the kind of job they do, employees seem to share a mutual dislike for performance appraisals. This unanimous discontent with and loathing of an entire system cannot be rooted simply in the fear of receiving negative feedback. Maybe there really are aspects of the appraisal system that need attention. That brings us to the question of what you can do as a manager to prepare for an upcoming appraisal.
Explain the what, why and how: It is best to have a clearly defined and sensible agenda at hand. You need to be sure of what goals were set, why they were important and how they should be measured. The same needs to be communicated to your employees not only when they were handed out these goals in the first place but also before an appraisal. This also adds more transparency to the whole system.
Do your homework: You need to review and follow-up on the work done by every employee in your team. While 5-point scales and scores might simplify the process, measuring performance is never easy and you might often find it difficult to justify the scores you label your employees with. Going in-depth and understanding the challenges and successes will prepare you better for a performance review.
No surprises: Neither the timeline set for the performance appraisal nor the actual outcomes should be a surprise for your employees. What would be a good idea is to conduct a pre-appraisal meeting. This would not only allow you to prepare your employee for what is to come (good, bad or ugly), but also have a less formal one-on-one conversation that helps you understand what went well and what went wrong. An employee might be facing issues that are not work-specific but have the power to affect his/her performance. Try to go behind-the-scenes of any performance. Your employees will then get to feel that you are willing to actually make an effort to appreciate their work and also measure their output more holistically.
Be ready with the way forward: A performance review is incomplete and rather hollow unless complimented by an action plan. Before the review, since you already know what points you will emphasize on, you would be wise to prepare a clear list of specific actions that you feel would help the employee improve his/her performance. In fact, you should inform your team to make a list of feedback for you as well. That way, you both have important individual takeaways from the whole process.
While the importance of performance appraisal is not refuted by most, it is the process that seems to be dreaded. Honest, effective and productive appraisals are the key to better performance. Ticking boxes or giving ratings cannot be enough.
The next performance appraisal is right around the corner and your employees are preparing hard for it. It’s time you start preparing too!
What are your ideas on improving appraisals so that they make more sense to your team? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org