The value of managing the performance of staff is all too often ignored by businesses and those in a management role. It can seem like a difficult and complicated process where uncomfortable conversations are sometimes required. However, the reality is that appraisals are an incredibly useful tool for businesses to motivate, engage and communicate with staff â€“ as long as they are properly used.
Before the appraisal
The value of managing the performance of staff is all too often ignored by businesses and those in a management role. It can seem like a difficult and complicated process where uncomfortable conversations are sometimes required. However, the reality is that appraisals are an incredibly useful tool for businesses to motivate, engage and communicate with staff – as long as they are properly used.
Before the appraisal
- Take care when scheduling. It’s important that both you and the employee have enough time to prepare for the appraisal so that no one is caught out and unhappy about it taking place. It will be a more constructive experience for everyone if there is adequate preparation time.
- Make sure you’re ready. As a manager, you need to lead the appraisal and be ready to confidently explain assessment processes, decisions and consequences. Look at previous appraisals, check the employee’s job description and be prepared with questions, such as “which completed tasks are you most proud of?” or “what have you found challenging this year?”
- Look forward, as well as back. Appraisals are about covering past behaviour but also planning for the future. What new skills is this person going to need to develop and what career defining moments do they have coming up? Development is as important as assessment.
- Think ahead. What kind of issues is this person likely to raise and what are their next career goals likely to be? How will you manage a situation in which they have a high volume of criticisms to bring to the table?
During the appraisal
- Remember that this is an ongoing relationship. You still have to work with this person after the appraisal so be kind, constructive and businesslike even if you’re delivering bad news.
- Be specific and factual. Working on the basis of making a statement and then providing the evidence to back that up will give whatever you say credibility and ensure that you get your point across.
- Remember the impression that you make. Relaxed body language, maintaining eye contact and asking friendly open-ended questions will create an atmosphere of openness and rapport.
- Focus on solutions as much as problems. If you’re in the position where you’re having to raise issues about conduct or performance with an employee then just imagine how this is going to feel from the other side of the table. It’s difficult to hear criticism for anyone – but if this is accompanied by suggestions for solutions and next steps it can be much easier to bear and use constructively.
- Make sure there are outcomes. Appraisals should always end with employees being able to see what positive next steps are likely to be. So, aim to create an action plan, points or ideas that will turn the appraisal into positive progress.
If you manage other people and you’re keen to understand how to get the most out of them, our Appraising Performance Effectively course is designed to help you do just that. Learn how to handle appraisals effectively and use them to begin producing better results.