Effective Performance Appraisals Part 3

For performance appraisals to provide the most useful information for employers and employees, they require proper planning and accurate data. Planning and reviewing the data will help you align goals and provide the resources employees need to succeed.

Following some easy guidelines will help with planning appraisals and aligning employee and company needs.

Planning Performance Appraisals

When preparing for performance appraisals review all the data before sitting down with an employee. This includes:

  • Review all feedback, notes, and documentation since the last appraisal.
  • Review previous appraisals.
  • Analyze previously set goals and desired behaviors you have addressed.
  • Look at performance for the entire period since the last appraisal, not just the last couple of months.
  • Ensure you clearly understand the appraisal/assessment tool and follow training and instructions.
  • Ask employees to do a self-evaluation. It is beneficial for them to assess their effective performance, and it can help when giving feedback.

*Note: A best practice is to conduct your appraisal before reviewing the employee’s self-appraisal to avoid biases.

  • Rate each employee and prepare written comments for high and low ratings. Be prepared to discuss real-life examples.
  • Take detailed notes that focus on desired results.

Performance appraisals should provide actionable steps for employees to succeed. They should provide clear goals and resources to help employees meet these goals.

Answer Employee Questions

You are ready for your appraisal discussion when you are prepared to answer the following questions for employees:

  • What can I improve?
  • What are my advancement opportunities?
  • What’s going to be expected of me before the next review?
  • How will my work be evaluated during that time?
  • What help or attention can I expect to get from my supervisor?

Although it is a good idea to prepare possible employee goals, areas for improvement, and needed training, don’t write these out on the final appraisal. It will be more effective to review these points with the employee.

Employees may shed some light on their needs and goals that could change the information, or they may have better objectives. Employees must be involved if you want to secure their commitment and buy-in.

Conducting the Interview

During the performance appraisal, there are steps you should take to ensure employees are comfortable and receptive to any suggestions provided.

  • Make the setting comfortable and private.
  • Set the employee at ease. State the purpose of the meeting and engage in a two-way conversation.
  • Avoid too much small talk and get to the point of your meeting.
  • Seek the employee’s personal view of their performance. Discuss your scores and try to understand and clarify any differences in perception.
  • Build on the last review by discussing what was planned and what has been accomplished.
  • Discuss your ratings and comments. Look for non-verbal employee reactions to guide how much detail you go into for each point. If they appear to be upset, ask questions to get them to open up.
  • Give recognition for accomplishments and achievements. Find something positive to say.
  • Identify areas where improvement is needed. Ask for the employee’s confirmation and suggestions for improvement.
  • Agree on specific improvement actions and a time frame to accomplish them. Write this plan out along with measurable objectives either on the appraisal or as an attachment.
  • Remove obstacles to performance and define what you can do to help the employee.
  • Provide employees an opportunity to agree or disagree with their evaluation. Hear them out and answer their questions.
  • Set new goals and schedule a follow-up session as needed.
  • Where appropriate, this may be an excellent time to discuss the employee’s next possible position with the company, where they are now at achieving this, and what experience or skills are needed to get there.

Make sure employees fully understand all information provided and give them a chance to share their comments, questions, and concerns. Make sure employees feel supported as they work towards meeting any new or updated goals.

Effective Appraisal Dos

To ensure the appraisal process is effective, you should do the following:

  • Evaluate the performance, not the personality. Strive for objectivity by focusing on results.
  • Apply performance ratings consistently.
  • Keep track of job performance, noting both the positive and the negative.
  • Maintain written performance-related records to help you when evaluating.
  • Gather all relevant information before completing the evaluation.
  • Think of specific examples to give employees when discussing problems and when giving praise.

Take steps to avoid biases and make the appraisal about performance and results.

Effective Appraisals Don’ts

An effective appraisal also requires avoiding certain pitfalls:

  • Inflating appraisals.
  • Using evaluations to play office politics or to make yourself look good.
  • Waiting for a formal review to address performance problems.
  • Evaluating performance based solely on the recent past. They should reflect the entire review period.

Personal likes and dislikes should not play a part in the appraisal process. The appraisal is a tool to help employees succeed in their current and future roles, not a popularity contest.

Avoid Common Performance Appraisal Errors

Without proper planning and consciousness of potential biases, performance appraisals can fall into pitfalls. You want to go into the appraisal aware of potential errors that could give the wrong impression and data for an accurate view of employee performance.

Halo effect: Where the employee impresses the supervisor so much in one area of the evaluation, like productivity, that they rate them high in all areas.

Horns effect:  the opposite of the halo effect occurs. The supervisor is so concerned about performance in one area that they rate them lower in all areas.

Recency: Writing the appraisal based on the most recent past performance. Remember that the appraisal should cover the overall performance for the past 12 months.

Leniency: This is where the supervisor sugarcoats performance appraisals, so they are well-liked by their employees. Being lenient with employees only hurts them and the supervisor. Encourage leadership to state the facts and tell it like it is.

Getting the Most Out of Employee Appraisals

With the proper planning and review, performance appraisals provide an effective tool to ensure success for your company and your employees. Following these guidelines will help you develop an appraisal process that provides accurate data and align goals.

If you are unsure about the effectiveness of your current appraisal processes, contact us to learn more about the resources available to get the most out of your appraisals and your employees.

For more tips and best practices for an effective performance appraisal, check out:

Effective Performance Appraisals Part 1

Effective Performance Appraisals Part 2

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