Managers are expected to not only do performance appraisals; they are expected to know what to do. So, what if you don’t know – it might be difficult for you to admit that you need some help or worse you muddle your way through creating a bad experience for you and the employee.
Where to start? Like anything else good planning makes the execution easier and more constructive. So start by having objectives in place that have clear measurable outcomes. Think about what needs to be achieved and also how these should be achieved- this measures the outcome and how the employee got there. This allows you to discuss behaviour as well as performance.
Now that you know what the discussion will be about, you need to consider what you are going to say. You should do some prework by reviewing the objectives, talk to customers and do your research by gathering examples.
The employee should also prepare for the meeting, they should come to the meeting with their thoughts and examples ready to discuss. An appraisal is a feedback meeting and is not all about the Manager telling the employee what they think. The purpose is to review performance and also gain feedback from both sides, the employee may not have achieved for a good reason, so you need to ask and go into the meeting with an open mind.
You are now ready to have the discussion, so what to do? A good way to set the tone of the meeting is to ask the employee how they think they have gone before voicing your opinion. This allows the employee to see that you value their opinion and also gives you an indicator of their views. Good questions are open ended like “How have you found this year?’ or “What have been your achievements?”
The next step is to go through each objectives asking the employee how they think they have performed. Ask why they think they have performed or not and you can ask for examples. Then you understand how they have formed that view and only then you can give your opinion based on your prework. Be specific with your feedback and use examples as much as possible. Vague feedback can be damaging to the employees ongoing performance and the perceived value of the appraisal. Things like “you have done really well because I have received 4 emails from our customers complimenting you on your efforts” or “we need to work together on prioritising your work as you have missed the deadline on this objective 6 times”. You can also explain the consequences of the employee’s action. If their non-performance has resulted in loss of business or complaints explain what that means.
So what happens if the employee’s view of their performance and yours are not aligned? this is where your examples will support your view, as it is hard to argue with fact. Of course, the employee should be allow to defend their performance and they may have a valid reason which is why this is a two-way conversation.
It is important to document the conversation and the evaluation of each objective, detail good results and what action both of you will do to improve performance. Closing the meeting well ensures you both have a clear understanding of actions to be undertaken. Don’t forget to thank the employee for their participation.
Are you about to do an appraisal and just know it will not go well? Want to put in a system that formalises regular performance reviews? Not sure where to start? Need some advice or training to conduct valued reviews? Contact The Outside Lane to discuss your concerns.