Conducting appraisals is one aspect of performance management utilised to manage performance and is seen as a ‘must do’ within the workplace. Surprisingly however, most business owners and managers dislike doing them and often appraisals don’t get done or are conducted in such a way that has it little benefit for either party.
My reason for writing this blog came out from a conversation with a friend who was told last Friday that she was having an appraisal on Monday (today). During my work with organisations on performance management some of the things that I have observed about appraisals include:
- Seen as a tick box exercise
- Lack of time to prepare as cited above
- The manager does all the talking
- Last year’s appraisal form being copied and re-dated
- Not carried out at all
- Rushed and conducted in public spaces
- Cancelled because the manager is busy
- Appraisals which took 2 hours because of the lengthy form filling
Giving feedback about performance is not something that is done once or twice a year but is an ongoing process throughout the year. The appraisal formalises the feedback and performance assessment that has already taken place, looking back and reviewing performance and looking forward to the future opportunities.
Appraisals however are not just about reviewing performance or identifying measures for improving performance and professional development. It enables you and your employee to have a period of focused time together. It enables you get to know your staff better and what motivates them, what they are interested in and where their strengths and potential lie and what can be done to increase their performance and productivity for the future. Thus it can help to build and improve working relationships and in succession and workforce planning.
It gives you the opportunity to clarify and reinforce goals and priorities so can the individual can see where his contribution fits into the team, department, and organisational goals. Staff who are aware of how their role and work fits into the wider business / organisational objectives, who are appreciated and recognised for their achievements, are better engaged. There is a growing body of research evidence to show that organisations which have highly engaged staff have higher levels of profitability and productivity, increased customer satisfaction and staff attendance.
There is no one right way to conduct an appraisal as this will depend on the nature and culture of the business and the people involved. Regardless of whatever approach and method you use, 2 fundamental apects of conducting appraisals include:
Fit for purpose Be honest and examine your reason for conducting an appraisal. Why are you doing it and for what purpose? How does it benefit you, the employee and the organisation?
Productive dialogue Without a thoughtful two-way discussion about the content, performance review forms are simply meaningless paperwork. The most important thing in any appraisal is engaging in dialogue to understand each other’s perspectives, to listen to understand, asking open-ended, encouraging curiosity and exploration so that there is a new shared understanding and meaning.
This is my perspective, what is yours? What is your experience of conducting appraisals or being the recipient of one?