How to… conduct an appraisal

Comments are closed. Manyemployees view their annual appraisal with a mixture of ambivalence andcynicism. One reason for this is that the appraiser can abuse the exercise byusing it to highlight an employee’s performance failings and as a forum forcriticism. Fortunately, the shift from appraisal as a retrospective assessmentof performance towards a forward-looking, joint discussion about developmentmeans managers and employees have an opportunity to transform the annual ritualinto a meaningful and profitable experience.PersonnelToday’s recent report, UK Line Managers, Are they good enough?, in conjunctionwith Richmond Events and Computers In Personnel, reveals 68 per cent of linemanagers handle their organisations’ performance management, compared to 32 percent of HR professionals. Worryingly,performance management is highlighted by the HR respondents as one of linemanagers’ problem areas. HR’s role is not only to create the template for anorganisation’s appraisals and implement appropriate feedback systems, but alsoto lead by example. HR should, therefore, be the most expertly appraiseddepartment in the company.Preparationis everythingAppraisalsoften fail as a result of lack of preparation on the part of the appraiser.It’s unrealistic to expect the appraisee to take the exercise seriously if youhaven’t even bothered to go through their appraisal from last year, so makethat your starting point. Familiarise yourself with their employment history.If you are well prepared you could improve communication, put your relationshipwith the employee on a better footing and make them feel better about work.Yourorganisation may have a formalised structure in place to elicit furtherinformation, such as a multi-sourced feedback or full-blown 360-degree appraisalsystem (if not, then consider putting one in place). If the feedback throws upinconsistencies, such as wildly differing views on an employee’s performance,leave adequate time before the appraisal to investigate further.Anticipateany questions or problem areas that will arise during the exercise. Avoid beingtoo prescriptive but the employee, reasonably, will expect you to have answersto all of their questions.Tomaximise the benefit of the appraisal exercise, it is not unreasonable toexpect some preparation on the part of the employee, too. Get them to list inadvance their strengths and weaknesses, achievements as well as performancehighs and lows for the previous 12 months.Createa framework for the appraisalThisis the template HR should set for the entire organisation. Recognise that theexercise should be stimulating, not stifling, so while imposing a structure itis essential to retain a degree of flexibility.Atypical framework will allow for the following:–A general introduction, stating the purpose of the appraisal–To review objectives set at the last appraisal and a forthright and honestdiscussion as to whether they have been met–If the objectives have not been met, to highlight any difficulties and how theycan be resolved or dealt with –Outline and agree future objectives–To formulate a personal development plan (PDP) for the year ahead and how itwill be achieved–To identify any training and development required by the appraisee to meetthose objectives–Sufficient time for the employee to discuss concerns.Therecan be a tendency to assume too much from the exercise but the employee willexpect to:–Receive constructive feedback on their performance–Understand what their objectives are for the year ahead–Be made aware what their career prospects are for the year ahead and in thefuture–Be able to air grievances about management or the organisation without itaffecting their prospects–Be able to discuss salary frankly–Above all, to feel notice has been taken of what they have said.Whatshould I do if bad feeling or hostility arises?Oneway to avoid such unpleasant- ness is to frequently discuss performance anddevelopment throughout the year. Regular informal chats with employees can alsoprovide early indications of any discontent or resentment so they don’tsuddenly, and confrontationally, surface in the appraisal.Makesure you listen to what is being said. “Listen to what appraisees say andignore how they say it,” says Terry Gillen, author of Exercises inAppraisal and Performance Development. “More than a good appraisal, peoplewant a fair appraisal; they want confidence in their appraiser. Activelistening forms an essential foundation.”Alwayskeep the discussion on the track of the appraisee’s performance anddevelopment. Be assertive about it if necessary.Wherecan I get more info?Books–The Appraisal Discussion, Terry Gillen, Chartered Institute of Personnel andDevelopment (CIPD),£6.99, ISBN 0852927517–Exercises in Appraisal & Performance Development, Terry Gillen, CIPD,£175, ISBN 0852927738ReportsUKLine Managers, Are they good enough? Personnel Today Management Resources,£25, Esco Business Services, 01371 810433, [email protected] only do five things…1Make sure both parties prepare in advance2Set clear objectives3Actively listen4Be specific and descriptive5Make it an ongoing process, discuss performance and development through out theyearExpert’sview Terry Gillen on appraisalsTerryGillen is a consultant trainer and author of 11 books and trainers’ resourcesincluding The Appraisal Discussion, Exercises in Appraisal & PerformanceDevelopment and Leadership Skills for Boosting Performance. His website iswww.terrygillen.co.uk DoHR and line managers work closely enough in terms of developing their appraisalskills?Unfortunatelynot, and HR is often its own worst enemy in this regard. All too frequently,appraisal training focuses on the formal processes and documentation and not onday-to-day performance management skills. Where managers are trained in thelatter, coaching and staff development, formal appraisal is what it should be –an overview of conversations that have already taken place.Whatare common failings when conducting appraisals?The‘mother’ of them all is the appraiser doesn’t know what performance theyactually want. (Here is a challenge for readers: describe three fictitiousstaff, one whose performance is acceptable, one under par and one who is verygood. If you can’t begin immediately, you’re thinking about it for the firsttime). Another is to think of giving feedback as an end in itself: it isn’t. Itis a step towards modifying behaviour and improving performance. Lastly, theappraiser sees it as an HR process. It isn’t. It is about what good managers doanyway.Whatqualities and characteristics make for good appraisers? Feedbackand performance development is part of their day-to-day management style. Soformal appraisal is just an ‘overview’ of what they already do. They know whatperformance they want from staff in terms of both inputs (what they do and howthey do it) and outputs (the results they achieve). They see themselves as aperformance coach not a performance police officer, and enjoy developing peopleand seeing them move on (knowing talented people will always want to work forthem). They see performance management as part of their job, not something theysqueeze in once a year. Previous Article Next Article How to… conduct an appraisalOn 8 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. read more