As a manager, you know that performance appraisals are important. Not only do they provide valuable feedback to employees, but they can also help identify issues and potential areas for improvement within your team.
But what makes an effective performance appraisal? And how can you ensure that your appraisals are actually helping to improve employee performance? That’s what we’re here to help you with.
What is a Performance Appraisal?
A performance appraisal is a formal review of an employee’s job performance. It usually includes a discussion between the employee and their manager, during which the manager will provide feedback on the employee’s work over a set period. This feedback can be positive or negative and is intended to help the employee improve their performance in the future.
The appraisals usually take place annually, but some companies conduct them more frequently. In addition to providing feedback, performance appraisals can also be used to identify areas of improvement and set goals for employees.
How to Deliver an Effective Performance Appraisal
When it comes to performance appraisals, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. However, there are some general tips that you can follow to ensure that your appraisals are effective:
1. Set Clear Expectations
Before you even begin the appraisal process, it’s important to set clear expectations with your employees. They should know how often appraisals will take place, what they’ll entail, and expectations for their performance. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page from the start.
2. Be Prepared
When you sit down to conduct an appraisal, you should be prepared with specific examples of the employee’s work. This will help to make your feedback more meaningful and actionable. It’s also helpful to review past appraisals, so you can see how the employee has progressed over time.
You should also plan for the future and set specific goals for the employee to work towards. These goals should be realistic and achievable so that the employee can actually make progress.
3. Create an Agenda for the Appraisal
It can be helpful to create an agenda for the performance appraisal. This will ensure that you cover all the important topics and that the discussion stays on track. The agenda should include items such as:
- A review of the employee’s past performance
- Feedback on specific areas of improvement
- Goals for the future
It’s also a good idea to share this agenda with the employee in advance, so they can come to the appraisal prepared with questions or concerns. Encourage them to add any additional points they’d like to discuss – assure them that the appraisal isn’t just a one-way conversation.
And just like the employee will come prepared based on the agenda, you should also be ready to answer any questions they may have, especially with discussion points like promotions or salary increases.
4. Use Positive Reinforcement
When you’re critiquing an employee’s performance, it’s important to balance the negative feedback with positive reinforcement. Recognize their achievements as much as the setbacks. That way, they’ll feel motivated to continue doing their best work, rather than feeling like they’re constantly being berated.
And as you share your feedback, make sure it’s specific so that the employee knows exactly what they need to work on. For example, rather than saying “you need to be more organized,” try “I noticed that you didn’t submit your expense report on time this month.” This will help the employee understand what they need to do differently to improve their performance.
Simultaneously, it’s important to ensure that your feedback aligns with the employee’s set targets and goals – you don’t want to assess them based on criteria they weren’t aware of.
5. Avoid Making Comparisons
Every employee is different and should be assessed based on their individual merits. And even if you do need to make a comparison, be sure to do so in a constructive way that doesn’t make the employee feel like they’re being pitted against others.
6. Discuss the Future Plans
While it’s important to reflect on past performance, the main focus of the appraisal should be on the future. Discuss the employee’s goals and how they can improve their performance to meet those goals.
This is also a good time to discuss potential promotions or salary increases. If there’s room for advancement within the company, make sure the employee is aware of it and knows what they need to do to achieve that next level.
Create an action plan with specific steps and deadlines so that the employee understands what’s expected of them.
Also, check in on their progress towards their future goals, and offer any additional support or resources they may need to grow.
7. Be Open to Feedback
The appraisal process should be a two-way conversation, not a one-way lecture. After you’ve shared your feedback with the employee, encourage them to share their own thoughts and concerns. This will help create a more open and honest dialogue and ensure that everyone is on the same page moving forward.
They may have some valid points about your managerial style or the way that you communicate – take their feedback into consideration, and make changes if necessary.
8. Follow Up
Once the appraisal is over, don’t just forget about it until next year. Check in with the employee periodically to see how they’re progressing towards their goals and offer help and support along the way. By taking an active interest in their development, you can show that you’re invested in their success – which will go a long way towards motivating them to do their best work.
An effective performance appraisal is a valuable tool that can help to improve an employee’s performance and contribute to their overall development. By following the tips above, you can ensure that your appraisals are constructive, positive, and productive.