I’m doing appraisals this week. Here is an appropriate extract from my Ten Top Tips series:
Everyone who manages staff should carry out regular performance appraisals whether part of a company scheme or not. These help team members to feel that their good work is recognised and that they are valued. It can also provide the opportunity to discuss any weaknesses or problems they may have, and to agree a way to deal with them. Here are some top tips for your next appraisals:
1 Be prepared by reading the job description and remind yourself of past appraisals. Check on actions taken as a result and refer to your notes on issues that have arisen since last time. It’s really easy to remember what happened last week but you’ve got to cover the whole period, good and bad.
2 Create the right mood by choosing a good time of day in a quiet room where you can both relax and feel comfortable about talking openly. Informality helps but don’t lose the formal intent of the exercise.
3 Structure the meeting by use of an appraisal form or a shared agenda which ensures that you cover everything you need to while still giving the appraisee plenty of time to express their views or ask questions.
4 Begin by praising the good stuff they do. It gets the meeting off to a good start if they know that you recognise their contribution. They will be more willing to listen to other feedback if you show that you appreciate their positive efforts.
5 Ask their opinion of their own performance before giving your own thoughts. People are often much more critical of themselves and it can make the delivery of a difficult message much easier if you begin from their point of view. I like to give people a checklist of key areas from their job description to reflect on before the meeting and then we compare notes.
6 Listen to what they have to say. They may know more about their job than you do! By getting them to talk and using open questions you will learn a lot and they will feel that you are giving them a fair hearing.
7 Facts are much more important in this process than perceptions. You must concentrate on performance more than personality referring to actual events, behaviour and results. Then explore why things went well or badly. Praise or blame that isn’t analysed provides no learning opportunity.
8 No surprises should be dumped on the appraisee during the appraisal meeting. Problems should be dealt with as they arise and praise is much more effective if it is swift. The purpose of the review is to reflect on these things positively not to hear about them for the first time.
9 Agree what is going to happen next. Whether it is a commitment by the appraise to try a new approach to something or a promise by you of a training plan, the sharing of some information or a follow up meeting you shouldn’t leave the meeting without agreeing and documenting who is going to do what.
10 Follow up the meeting with a written note or signed form confirming the conversation and the agreement and then be certain to do your bit. The objective of the appraisal exercise is to achieve and maintain high performance levels. That means you too!