How to Conduct Performance Appraisals at Work?

Conducting performance reviews of employees is critical for any organization. Wondering how to conduct performance appraisals? Read on to find out…

Performance appraisals are mostly used to improve an employee’s performance over time. They may also be used to justify an employee’s compensation and their potential for promotion. An effective employee performance appraisal process can drive performance, reduce dissatisfaction, identify training opportunities, and boost company culture. Appraisals are typically conducted with a performance appraisal form. Similarly, a poorly executed performance appraisal process can lead to negative outcomes such as employee disengagement, office politics, and poor company culture. This blog gives you an idea of how to conduct performance appraisals at work.

Performance reviews help supervisors feel more honest in their relationships with their subordinates and feel better about themselves in their supervisory roles. Subordinates are assured a clear understanding of what’s expected from them, their own personal strengths and areas for development, and a solid sense of their relationship with their supervisor. Avoiding performance issues ultimately decreases morale, decreases the credibility of management, decreases the organization’s overall effectiveness, and wastes more of management’s time to do what isn’t being done properly.

Here are a few steps on how to conduct performance appraisals at work:

1. Legal Review Process

Performance appraisals should be job-related and valid; based on a thorough analysis of the job; standardized for all employees; not biased against any race, color, sex, religion, or nationality; and performed by people who have adequate knowledge of the person or job. Be sure to build in the process, a route for recourse if an employee feels he or she has been dealt with unfairly in an appraisal process, e.g., that the employee can go to his or her supervisor’s supervisor. The process should be clearly described in a personnel policy. Make sure that appraisal policies are as per the company policy and laws of your country.

2. A standardized system of appraisal

Make sure to follow a standardized procedure for employee performance appraisal. Include the name of the employee, the date the performance form was completed, dates specifying the time interval over which the employee is being evaluated, performance dimensions, a rating system (e.g., poor, average, good, excellent), space for commentary for each dimension, a final section for overall commentary, a final section for action plans to address improvements, and lines for signatures of the supervisor and employee. Signatures may either specify that the employee accepts the appraisal or has seen it, depending on the wording on the form.

3. Proper scheduling

Schedule your performance appraisals at proper and frequent intervals. It is advisable to schedule the performance appraisal after six months of the employees starting their employment. Schedule the next one six months after the first. From the next appraisal onwards, conduct them on the employee’s anniversary date each year in order to maintain consistency in performance appraisals. In order to conduct performance appraisals at work, make sure to maintain consistency year-on-year basis.

4. Initiate the meeting

Before starting the performance appraisal meeting, keep it in mind to tell your employees that you will be initiating a performance review process. Remind them of what’s involved in the process. Schedule a meeting about two weeks out. Start the discussion with friendly greetings — this sets the tone for the rest of the session. Make sure to lay out the framework. Let employees know the topics you plan to cover, as well as the order in which you plan to cover them. Ask for questions from them. This will raise employees’ comfort level and eliminate nagging issues that could distract them.

5. Provide inputs to appraisal

Let your employees suggest whatever updates they have on the job description, however minute they may be. Have them record their input concurrent to your recording theirs. The reviewer and the employee can exchange each of their written feedback in the upcoming review meeting. By then, employees should have received the job descriptions and goals well in advance of the review, i.e., a year before. The employee should also be familiar with the performance appraisal procedure and form.

6. Document your inputs

Be sure you are familiar with the job requirements and have sufficient contact with the employee to be making valid judgments. Record major accomplishments, exhibited strengths and weaknesses according to the dimensions on the appraisal form, and suggest actions and training or development to improve performance. Use examples of behaviors wherever you can in the appraisal to help avoid counting on hearsay. Always address behaviors, not characteristics of personalities. The best way to follow this guideline is to consider what you saw with your eyes. Be sure to address only the behaviors of that employee, rather than the behaviors of other employees.

7. Hold the performance appraisal meeting

State the meeting’s goals of exchanging feedback and coming to action plans, where necessary. In the meeting, let the employee speak first and give their input. Respond with your own input. Then discuss areas where you disagree. Attempt to avoid defensiveness; admitting how you feel at the present time, helps a great deal. Discuss behaviors, not personalities. Avoid final terms such as “always,” “never,” etc. Encourage participation and be supportive. Come to terms on actions, where possible. Try to end the meeting on a positive note.

8. Finalize the performance appraisal form

Add agreed-to commentary to the form. Note that if the employee wants to add attach written input to the final form, he or she should be able to do so. The supervisor signs the form and asks the employee to sign it. The form and its action plans are reviewed every few months, usually during one-on-one meetings with the employee.

9. Avoid Surprise Elements

Nothing should be surprising to the employee during the performance appraisal meeting. Any performance issues should have been addressed as soon as those issues occurred. So nothing should be a surprise to the employee later on in the actual performance appraisal meeting. Surprises will appear to the employee as if the supervisor has not been doing his/her job and/or that the supervisor is not being fair. It is OK to mention the issues in the meeting, but the employee should have heard about them before.

In Short

Keep your feedback focused on your employees’ performance, especially in terms of meeting objectives, achieving results, handling critical incidents, and developing competencies. Listen actively to what your employees have got to say. Discuss and clarify the overall ratings with your employees and end the session on a positive note. Well-executed performance appraisals at work is the key to showing your employees that they have a future within your company.

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Suchismita Panda