Methods for reviewing employing performance differ from company to company, but it’s often the case that improvements can be made. Good appraisals should be both constructive and positive, emphasising goals and opportunities, rather than dwelling on problems. Here are eight important tips for conducting better employee appraisals.
1. Take the time to make the employee feel valued
Even if you’re going to have to deal out some constructive criticism during the appraisal, it’s very important that the outcome is not entirely negative. Remember that while each employee will have their strengths and weaknesses, it’s rare to find anyone who does not contribute to the company. So before you become overzealous in pointing out the areas they need to improve, you need to take the time to show them that the business values their contribution.
2. Use appraisal software
When you’ve got a small business with only a few employees it’s fairly easy to keep track of the performance of each individual. But as companies start to grow it becomes necessary to have a system to keep track of employee appraisals. With software you can follow the progression of each member of staff individually.
The best appraisal software for you will likely depend on their requirements of your business. Make sure that you choose one that gives you the ability to analyse performance and schedule appraisals through the same system, as this can save a lot of time and hassle.
3. Make it clear how the employee will be evaluated
It needs to be clear to an employee exactly how they are being evaluated – what are the criteria on which they are being assessed? The format needs to be explained so that they can properly defend themselves or provide their side to a story that may not have been fully explained. Some organisations like to use elements of self-evaluation, but some employees may not be used to this – so make sure that you are clear on what is expected of them.
4. Give weight to the full year of work
One common issue with appraisals is that they focus far too much on recent performance. If you carry out appraisals once a year, it can be easy to only remember the last two or three months’ worth of work. But this can be an unfair way to carry out assessments, as members of staff can be more productive at different times of the year, depending on circumstances such as holidays and the projects that they are working on. This can be where appraisal software is especially useful, as you’ll be able to get a full overview of the year.
5. Ensure that the focus is on performance
Too often, appraisals will fall away from issues like performance and mangers will prefer to talk about issues such as attitude and dress. It’s important to remember that while dress and attitude can be relevant issues at work, they should be looked at outside of the performance appraisal.
Managers should not allow themselves to be influenced by other factors – just look at how well the employee has completed their work and how their results have affected everyone else. If there is a serious problem with an issue such as timekeeping, this warrants its own meeting and is unrelated to their working performance.
6. Obtain feedback from colleagues
It is often the case that the people who are most qualified to analyse an employee are those colleagues that work closely with them. Make sure that you get feedback from these people so you can take a full understanding of the employee into the appraisal. If you are part of the HR department or don’t have much contact with this employee, it’s vital to look at the person and not just the numbers that they produce.
7. No surprises
It should never be a surprise in the appraisal for the employee to hear either that their performance is very bad or very good. Managers should talk to their team on a regular basis to make sure that they are aware when they have done well or when something needs improving. If the employee is left in the dark about their performance it can come as a shock to them during the appraisal which may leave them in the wrong state of mind – too pleased to properly discuss negative issues in the workplace, or too annoyed to properly defend their position.
8. Create an action plan
No matter the outcome of the appraisal, the final step should be to create an action plan so that both you and the employee understand what needs to happen next.