If you’re a manager who line-manages staff you will probably have to carry out performance appraisals with them. Many organisations have guidelines about how to run appraisals and yet staff often complain that they feel as if appraisals are just a ‘tick box exercise’, (ie. It is something that has to be done, but no one really cares what the result is), or they don’t feel that it’s a useful exercise. Obviously you should follow the guidelines that your company provides you with, but I think there are a number of issues that you should be aware of, that aren’t always covered in the necessary depth.
Read any guidelines
Ensure that you're familiar with guidelines and any documentation that you have to use for the appraisal. Decide whether you are going to fill in the official documentation during the appraisal or make notes and fill it in afterwards. If you use the latter option, remember this will take up more of your time.
Make sure that you prepare properly and have a clear idea of the success that the member of staff has had or any difficulties. Read through any previous appraisal notes. You should have a view of their strengths and opportunities for them to develop. Fill in any of the paperwork that you can before the appraisal.
Meet with a member of staff, before their appraisal
Managers often assume that staff understand the appraisal process and know what to expect. Even if the staff have some paperwork, it’s still worth meeting with the member of staff before the agreed date of their appraisal to make sure that you both understand the point of the appraisal and how it will be run.
Encourage the member of staff to prepare properly
Although it is often written in the guidelines that staff should prepare for their appraisals and make notes of what they want to discuss, staff are more likely to do it, if they know that they will be given the opportunity to talk about their achievements, any areas for development and the opportunity to ask questions or discuss professional development opportunities. Make sure when you meet with them, that they are aware of all these things.
Don't bring up new information about weaknesses
If you've had any issues with a member of staff since their last appraisal, these should have been discussed with them as they happen. There is nothing more dispiriting to a member of staff to find themselves being criticised for something that has never been discussed before.
Monitor the time
You’re likely to be provided with guidelines over the length of an appraisal. It is important that you manage the time well and ensure that you both have the opportunity to say as much as you want to.
Don’t be defensive
If you’re a new manager who has little or no experience of appraisals it can be a nasty shock if a member of staff who is being appraised criticises you. Don’t immediately be defensive or act aggressively. Listen carefully to what is being said and make a measured and fair response.
Avoid all distractions
Make sure that you give your proper attention to the appraisal by holding it where you won’t be disturbed. Make sure phones and computers are turned off (unless you are filling in an online form) and that there is a “Do not Disturb” notice on the door. Interruptions can spoil an appraisal.
It’s important that you get feedback from members of staff about the appraisal experiences and how useful they found them. Use this experience to improve or alter how you run appraisals.
Performance appraisals should be a positive and useful experience for both you as the manager and the members of staff that you appraise. Spend the time making that you are well prepared, understand the process and know what issues you want to discuss with the member of staff. Manager your time and check that the appraisal is carried out in the right environment. Don’t ever be afraid of getting feedback – it’s all part of the learning process.