Appraisals are a critical part of the relationship between a manager and an employee. But how do you ensure you conduct an effective one?
Often, you can be both the manager and employee in a situation where you have direct reports and a direct manager. Appraisals can be seen as a chore and unnecessary often as they take time from a busy day.
But in fact, they create well-motivated employees who feel they have had an opportunity to discuss the skills needed to complete their job effectively.
As a manager, you have a responsibility to your staff and the organisation to ensure that your appraisal process works well.
The appraisal process is part of the overall organisational strategic, tactical and operational planning process.
This makes the appraisal process the ‘front-end’ of the business’ strategic and planning process. A well-run appraisal process creates a virtuous circle; see the diagram below.
This means it will reward good performance, motivate the individual, and help identify training and development needs.
- Corporate Strategy – dictates products produced and target markets
- Business Strategy – individual strategies for each market identified
- Functional Strategy – goals and objectives of departments to achieve the strategy
- Individual Objectives – strategy only works if individuals are trained and prepared through the appraisal process
There are many benefits to a well-run appraisal process, including:
- Motivation – a motivated employee will benefit their quality of life but also productivity and performance
- Mutual understanding – it is an opportunity to see what the employee wants to get from their career, both now and in the future. This clarity means that the employee will be happier, and it should reduce staff turnover.
- Planning – a key outcome is for the employee to have an action plan that ensures effective performance in the coming period. It should involve training and other goals that both the employee and manager should be involved in satisfying.
- Reward – appraisals are an opportunity to discuss pay raises, bonuses or promotions.
As an immediate checklist to have as either an employee or a manager, each appraisal should include:
- A performance review
- A reward review
- A discussion around career development
These are just some of the basic things necessary to do right in an appraisal. But, what about the things that you can do wrong:
- Chatting – getting distracted talking about holidays or sports can lead to wasted valuable time and the employee feeling demotivated.
- Bureaucracy – some managers think an appraisal is a ‘red-tape thing’ or something ‘that has to be done’. This means that it won’t be successful for either side. By taking it seriously, the person opposite you will also take it seriously, and it will be productive for both.
- Unfinished business – the appraisal can get into something happening in the day-to-day job. Talk about current work should be delayed until the formal appraisal is officially over or in a separate meeting.
- Annual event – if appraisals are too infrequent, they mean nothing. Ideally, they should be semi-annual with quarterly check-ins to ensure that the employee is working effectively and is remaining motivated.
- Judgement – A poor appraisal is a manager-led about their view of employee performance. This could be a missed opportunity, and it is a chance for the manager to hear from the employee and fellow workers about what they feel about current performance.
- Confrontation – if there are vital issues to be discussed on performance, this must remain constructive and not turn into a defensive conversation. Whatever led to the issue cannot be changed, and the appraisal should concentrate on how this can be avoided again in the future.
Like any successful task, preparation is key. Make plenty of time for an appraisal and never give the impression you have more important things to do.
It’s not just a form-filling exercise but central to an employee’s performance.