Performance appraisal interviews are no longer the only means of identifying, evaluating, and developing an employee’s performance to ensure the company meets its goals and objectives.
These days, a performance appraisal is just one of many procedures that takes place within the context of a system of managing performance. Instead of a yearly review, which tends to focus on the past instead of planning for the future, a system of managing performance is the ongoing and systematic review, monitoring, and management of employee performance throughout the whole year.
Typically, performance appraisals are conducted by either the employer, manager, or member of the HR department. During this one-on-one meeting the assessor may discuss the following with the employee:
You have the freedom to make the appraisal interview as formal or casual as you wish. Although, as a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to conduct the meeting in a safe, secure environment (e.g. private meeting room or quiet local café), where you can both speak openly – free of distractions and interruptions.
A range of new performance employee methods have been developed and put into practice in the modern workforce. As a result, employers have the freedom to pick-and-choose from a number of approaches, which can be tailored to match their style and the needs of the business.
Here are some of the most popular and effective appraisal solutions to consider for your business:
You (or the assessor) writes a short essay summing up the strengths and weaknesses of each employee, and includes supporting facts and case studies. Ideal for small business owners, this approach lets you be highly detailed and thorough with your assessment. However, for larger organisations, a less time-consuming approach is better suited.
Each employee fills out a self-evaluation form (prepared by the assessor) so they can reflect on their past and current performance, behaviour and conduct. By letting the employee evaluate their own performance first, this stops the process from being ‘one-sided,’ and it allows you to compare the employee’s self-assessment to the company’s own performance criteria.
This involves preparing and completing a questionnaire. In the questionnaire, you ask yourself a number of questions that relates to the employee’s performance. For example, their ability to work as a team, take initiative, or effectively solve problems.
In response to each question, you reply with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Although this approach is relatively quick and simple, it is less detailed than an essay analysis of an employee’s performance.
Over a set period of time, maintain a logbook of instances where an employee demonstrated either highly positive or negative conduct. For example, an employee completes a project to an exceptionally high standard, or they behave poorly to a customer or member of staff.
After the reporting period, you reflect on the results and either choose to reward outstanding behaviour, or put into place a program to address poor performance.
A number of online software tools have also been launched, which makes it easy for you to put in and modify the contents of your appraisal interview form. You can also download performance appraisal templates and modify them to suit the needs of your business.
Regardless of your approach to the performance appraisal, it is important to have all your bases covered. Below is a checklist of the key details to include in your appraisal form:
You most likely have a clear idea as to what to expect from your employees. However, if you do not communicate to your workers those expectations, they will forever remain in the dark. Likewise, your employees probably have their own criteria as to what they expect from you and the company.
By setting clear expectations, your employees will be happy to know what is expected of them, and they may be more motivated to achieve those standards. Plus, if the business can meet the expectations of your employees, you will likely boost productivity and retention rates.
To clearly define expectations, lay them out in your company policy and during appraisal interviews.
Poor performance can occur for many reasons. An employee may be suffering from low morale, lack certain skills or abilities, or the issue could relate to problems outside of the workplace (i.e. problems at home). Regardless, it is crucial to identify the cause of the underperformance first before you jump to conclusions.
First, carry out a general observation of the employee in question. Do they appear to be stressed, upset, or over-worked? How do they interact with other staff and customers? Even a few basic observations may clue you in to what is really going on.
Secondly, reach out to other team members and find out if they have noticed any strange behaviour lately. Don’t pry though! You do not want the team to feel as if they are being investigated. Otherwise, this may reduce morale and productivity.
From there, have a meeting with the employee. Give clear examples as to where the employee has underperformed, let them share their side of the story, and listen carefully. Depending on the reason for the underperformance, the next step is most likely to provide the necessary guidance, training, and education to improve the situation.
When managing underperformance, always set clear, reasonable goals for the employee to focus on and reach. And carry out follow-up meetings to ensure the program is achieving the desired outcomes.