Article: 7 tips to ensure a smooth appraisal process

Performance Management

7 tips to ensure a smooth appraisal process

The purpose of this article is to ensure that appraisals do not become an administrative and managerial process, and they fulfill the purpose they are meant to.
7 tips to ensure a smooth appraisal process

Performance Appraisal means different things to different people. For employers, managers and leaders, it means blocking weeks off of their schedule and taking stock of how people in their teams have worked. For employees, it continues to be an elusive and obscure process, which is assumed to end in negative feedback. However, why is it that a simple assessment turns out to be a dreaded process by both the sides? Employees remain anxious anticipating negative feedback, changes in the relationship with seniors, threat to reputation, scrutiny and follow-up, and a general fear of change. Employers and Managers remain sceptical and uncomfortable to talk about performances, of confronting employees and the fear of disagreements manifesting themselves as a thing of permanence, and a negative consequence of critical feedback on performance. 

The nature of the process of Performance Appraisal brings to fore opportunities to both the management and employees, to deeply assess the targets achieved by individuals, identify the barriers encountered, chalk a path to improve future performances and recognize areas where support is needed to achieve the same, for both of the organisation and employees.

People Matters presents seven areas where both employees and employers need to be careful, while treading the seemingly tough waters of Performance Appraisals:

  1. Information on Process: Appraisals should be scheduled well in advance, and managers and employers should ensure that there is clarity about the process which the organisation adopts. Details like what will be discussed, in what setting, how the responses will be measured, what is the preparation required, need to be communicated timely, clearly and unambiguously to everyone involved. The onus of the employee is actually spend some time understanding the process, and ensuring that any confusion or clarification is sought well before the process begins. 

  2. Documentation: Employees need to update all the documents that they are required to furbish, and must also gather their expenses reports, leave record, and other reports and presentations made during the year. Not only does this make the process smooth for everyone, it also reflects how responsible and consistent the employee is. The Employer must ensure that previous appraisals, the job descriptions, reports submitted by supervisors are in place at least few days in advance. Furthermore, the meetings, talks and discussions need to documented in a standard and fair format, to help reach a conclusion clearly.
  3. Fairness and Honesty: There is no point inflating your performance results, because your employers know what you have achieved better than you do. There is no harm in admitting that the goals were not achieved, as long as you are willing to take responsibility of it, and amend mistakes. Furthermore, there is also nothing wrong in beating your own drums, if your performance has been exemplary and is backed by facts and figures. Employers need to adopt a method that is fair and free of biases, to ensure performances are recorded justly. Employers also need to be careful, about clearly communicating the real feedback, and not sugar-coating or downplaying failures. This can result in shock and confrontation when the appraisal report is out, or the increments are announced. 

  4. Inter-personal Communication: It is highly encouraged that the immediate supervisor, or the person conducting the appraisal establishes a one-on-one meeting, maybe in an informal setting, with the concerned individuals to remove any doubts, assumptions or fear of the process. Employees can use this opportunity to familiarise with the process, establish a comfortable relationship to avoid anxiety later. These can also be conducted after the process, to follow-up or close discussion on topics.

  5. Don't use Defensive and Confrontational Tones: No matter how the other person responds to what you say, when tempers flare up, or accusations come up, it is better to stop the process and resume it later. Employees need to carefully assertive of their point, yet not be defensive. Dismissing critical or negative feedback about their performance or behaviour will reflect on the outcome. Employers need to be careful about confronting the employee about their performance, and making them feel they de-motivated and hopeless even before the process has completed. In other words, ‘Act, don’t react!’

  6. Back up with Facts and Instances: If you are making a point, asking for justifications, or asserting your side, make sure you have numbers and individual instances to back up your position. If your performance is under question, have the progress documented, or if behaviour and attitude is under question, revisit instances where they became problematic. Making conjecture or second-guessing yourself, without tangible evidence in your support, no matter if you are an employee or employers, kills the essence of the process. 

  7. Follow-Up: Maybe the most under-rated part of the process, follow-up is essential to close the loop. If you have been asked to report back with certain documents, or revert with certain information, make sure you do it. Since appraisals put a lot of focus on identifying barriers and suggesting areas of support in the future. The latter will obviously involve following up. Employers need to ensure that the outcomes of the appraisal are actually put to action, and their concerns and feedback is actually incorporated in the work ahead. 

There you go! The purpose of this article is to ensure that appraisals do not become an administrative and managerial process, and they fulfil the purpose they are meant to. Often, the fundamental qualities of an appraisal take a back-seat because of the immense pressure and the cumbersome nature of the process. Furthermore, appraisals are assumed to be the responsibility of the employer or the organisation, which is not the case. Performance Appraisals are like a two-way street that will require both the employee and the employer to come together and work in ensuring that both of them grow, in symphony. 

The trick to ensuring a smooth, and glowing appraisal process lies in preparing for it, understanding it and making sure all your concerns are put on the table. Your performance is the true indicator of the outcome of the process, however, skills like leadership, communication, willingness to take initiative, and your overall outlook and attitude go a long way in adding to the final outcome. There is no shortcut in making up for your appraisal process, but, working consciously on the yardsticks that you will be evaluated, all around the year. The process, otherwise deemed to be impossible to accommodate to everyone's concerns, can be simplified if employees and employers comply beyond what is expected of them.

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Topics: Performance Management, Assessments

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