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Managers: How to conduct an effective performance appraisal
Most employees want to know the answer to this basic question: “How am I doing?”
Regular staff performance appraisals should fulfill that need and more. In these sessions, staff member and manager sit down at least quarterly or bi-annually and review the employee’s past and present performances and set future directions. The most effective sessions are simple and encourage open dialogue between manager and employee.
Here are some steps to follow when conducting a basic performance appraisal interview:
1. Allocate performance appraisal interview times for all employees.
Employees need to know well in advance the date and time of their appraisal. The performance appraisal interview may occur, for example, during the month of their birthday, or at some other time mutually convenient to the employee and to you. Both you and the staff member then have adequate time to prepare for the meeting.
2. Encourage the employee to prepare for the session.
With adequate forewarning, the employee should be able to prepare for the session. The design of the interview form or agenda can assist in this regard. Ask the employee to focus particularly on his/her performance since the last meeting, comparing against goals previously agreed to as per KPI’s.
3. Prepare yourself for the session.
As part of your planning, assemble material relevant to achieving your outcomes. Review the records of the employee’s past performance appraisal meetings and decide if there are any other issues you wish to raise or emphasise. Arrange for a location where you will not be interrupted and ensure you both allocate sufficient time for the meeting.
4. Establish a rapport.
Gaining the employee’s trust and confidence is essential to successful outcomes. This process cannot be rushed and the interview should not proceed until you feel a rapport has been successfully established.
5. Reach agreement on past and present performance.
Give the employee an opportunity up front to describe how she/he feels the job is progressing generally. Examine together how well the previously set goals in key result areas were achieved: were the standards met adequately, where they met on time, what improvement is needed, any problem areas? If both parties have completed their pre-meeting preparation, an agreement can be reached by each person walking through their respective lists. Remember, those lists will include positive items and others in need of attention.
6. Acknowledge employee successes.
Give full and generous acknowledgment for appropriate performance, and special emphasis on above average achievements. Indicate your intention to build upon these personal strengths.
7. Identify and agree on areas needing improvement.
Gain the employee’s commitment to addressing those areas in need of attention. Focus particularly on no more than two or three areas. Explain why improvement is necessary, express improvement in measurable terms if possible, and record actions to be taken. This process should not be rushed and should involve considerable employee input, as ownership of the issues is essential.
8. Stay focused.
If you are criticised or forced to defend your position at any stage, remain calm and focused on outcomes. Adopt the attitude that nothing can happen in the interview that you can’t handle competently.
9. List future directions.
Avoid dwelling on the past – very little can be gained from that. Devote maximum time to discussing the employee’s future. Reach agreement on the next stage and list the steps to be taken. Agree on new goals or standards together with an action plan to achieve them. Consider any staff training that may be appropriate. How can you assist? Update the job description if necessary. Document the outcome and include it in the employee’s file. A review of that list will form the basis for the next performance appraisal interview.
10. Close on a positive note.
Conclude the meeting by summarising what you think the appraisal interview has achieved. Ensure that the employee leaves in a positive frame of mind, feeling prepared to tackle the next stage with confidence. Fix a date for a follow-up meeting if required.
11. Monitor outcomes.
You must continue to look critically at the real results of your staff appraisal interviews and make changes accordingly. Those changes may even involve moving to a 360 degrees appraisal system.
Performance improvement is an area of responsibility for each manager. However, it does not just happen. An effective means of accomplishing improvement includes considering all factors influencing performance in a collaborative discussion with the employee. Measuring KPI’s against core duties and responsibilities which are measurable.
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Your trusted HR & Talent partner,
Asenath van den Berg
Director – ASIE Personnel
Source/Extracts from The Only Leadership Book You’ll Ever Need
About the author: Peter Barron Stark & Jane Flaherty