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Top Tips for conducting Appraisals

Opinions vary widely on the subject of performance appraisals; why they are carried out and the format they should take, with some organisations understanding the importance of incorporating them into their strategic plan and others feeling duty bound to carry them out, simply because it’s what everyone else is doing.

According to the CIPD, a performance appraisal (or performance review) ‘is a process for individual employees and those concerned with their performance, typically line managers, to engage in a dialogue about their performance and development and the support they need in their role.

Fundamentally, the purpose of an appraisal is to review the performance of an employee over a specific time period. The intention being to increase motivation, ensure that employees are kept updated with the company’s developments and strategic direction and to help them, through training and development, to contribute towards the organisation’s overall goals and strategies.

Although experts in human resources and employee management are often divided over whether employers should conduct annual performance appraisals; indeed there are pros and cons for doing so or not doing so (but this is not the remit of this article). Ultimately, each employee should be given an opportunity to share observations and discuss issues and concerns with their supervisor, on a regular basis during the year.

If an employer does decide to conduct performance appraisals in whatever format they choose, carrying them out correctly and accurately, not only avoids potential litigation (documentation can be used in a discrimination trial) but makes for a more valuable outcome. Here are five tips for a successful appraisal process that will deliver results:

1.Be prepared

Careful preparation is essential before undertaking any performance appraisal. Get your facts together and gather all the relevant information you have about the employee, including job description, any previous appraisal forms and any training and development records. For a first appraisal, the duties and responsibilities outlined in a job description are a good starting point for assessing performance.

Book an interview time convenient to both of you – somewhere quiet and free from distraction. Make sure you give the appraisee an idea of the types of things you are likely to discuss and give them time to prepare as well.

2.Establish a rapport

Establishing a rapport and encouraging participation is important, ask them for their ideas.Keep the discussion frank and open and pay attention to what they have to say – above all listen; don’t let yourself do all the talking. Apply the 90/10 rule – the appraisee talks 90% of the time and you talk 10%.

3.Keep emotions out

Stick to the facts and focus on performance achievements, not on any emotional issues.

Try to be as specific as possible and steer clear from focusing on attitude or personality. Try not to be judgmental.

4.Be honest

Be honest and prepared to discuss questionable areas. If their goals are unrealistic, tell them what your limitations are and what you are prepared to help them achieve. Never offer or promise something that you cannot deliver.

5.Create an action plan

However informal your appraisal is, keeping notes is highly recommended and a written action plan that you have both signed agreement to, is best practice. The plan can include future objectives, goals and expectations for the next performance period along with ideas for developing or training the employee to achieve these.

Ensure you follow through the agreed plan with regular update meetings and end your appraisal interview on a positive note.

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