Appraisals are nothing but a formal assessment of an employee done by an organization in the form of interviews or evaluating performances.
Appraisals are impartial in nature, and there is a criterion set to analyze and evaluate an employee to determine their acceptability, worth, and merit. They are usually given in a written form or otherwise in a verbal form. The need for appraisals in currently a hot topic in the current business world. With short-staffing and cost-cutting activities being undertaken, it is important a company does not lose out on their best employees in the process, for just the reason that they were undervalued in the organization in terms of both payments and in kind.
Moving forward in 2019, now it’s time to consider the right and wrong ways to conduct successful appraisals with the staff.
Formal performance appraisals can be of huge benefit to both the employer and the employee. Unfortunately, however, they are increasingly undervalued and underutilized by both parties. Companies must understand that appraisals have a direct impact on employee’s morale, organization's culture and retention of talented staff.
One might think that appraisals are a process driven, a form-filling activity that takes away creativity and adds more administrative pressure to managers and HR managers, or can think that a standardized appraisal system is key to company performance – the importance to get it right, whatever approach is taken is fundamental to success.
Any organizations success depends on their staff and their tenurity. This makes it very important to retain appreciate and nurture in-house talent, and a leadership responsibility to make sure that current staff is motivated for upskilling and continuous improvement.
Appraisals are important conversations which help align employee’s outputs, performance and personal development with the business strategy. These, whether formal or informal provide a framework for both employer and employee. A systematic approach to monitoring performance and employee engagement. Whatever process you choose, use good tools around it to support the overall requirements.
Employee engagement and empowerment are core activities that build employees decision-making ability, which further enhances their skills.
Rewards, recognition and timely appraisals are the most important factors to boost motivation. Appraisals should be in both ways. Employee should have monetary gains as well as he/she should be appreciated with higher responsibilities. This enables the respective employee to have a higher view on his daily tasks and automatically improves the quality of work.
As an HR, it is my responsibility to standardize the appraisal method, format, tools, information collection and storage across the business. However, the less you think of appraisals as a ‘doing’ activity, the more they become part of your management style, the easier they become.
In most organizations, especially those with 50 employees or more, HR departments will (or should) deliver an overview of the appraisal process, and offer support to managers to deliver appraisals. However, there can be tricky appraisals. Not all employees deliver time and time again to the expectations set by the organization, and delivering negative feedback can be difficult.
Some tips on how to get ready for, and conduct, an effective appraisal, are mentioned below:
Preparation will show employees that their boss cares about them and is invested in them, both as a worker and a person. Begin by gathering data on the employee and their performance – this may include records from previous appraisals, any HR issues raised by their colleagues and feedback from their immediate manager and/or co-workers. This data can help set the right topics for discussion, ready for the appraisal, as well as forming future goals. Referring to records from previous meetings also allows an employer to gauge where specific improvements (or lack, thereof) have been made since then.
Preparing exactly what to discuss with each employee is the key to ensuring all bases are covered. The person conducting the appraisal, often their immediate line manager, should discuss:
- The employee’s performance, both since the start of their current role and since their last appraisal – not just in terms of the delivery of their work, but attitude and things like whether they arrive consistently on time or not, whether they meet deadlines and how regularly they take sick days. At the same time, allow the employee to self-appraise.
- Exploration of where improvements can be made – and how to implement them.
- A discussion of any grievances the employee may have, and how these can be tackled. It’s also a great idea to talk about any ideas they might have for developing or diversifying their own role or the company at large.
- Agree on some goals for the future – both short and long-term.
Atmosphere and delivery
Arguably the most important element of an employee appraisal is ensuring it’s undertaken in the correct atmosphere. There should be no surprises. Honesty is the best policy, both ways. The employee should get the benefit of doubt to prepare well for it.
There are some organizations who conclude the appraisal the point of determining employees’ grades without holding one-on-one discussion meetings on the results. The employee is then left in the dark on the specific areas of improvement needed to enhance their future work performance. Heads of departments and supervisors should hold a meeting with the employees they assessed to provide them feedback. Progressive organizations are known to have employees attach their signature to staff appraisal form to confirm the acceptance of the ratings earned.
The outcomes of staff appraisals do not hold much water if they are not directly linked to reward. Some organizations operate a fixed salary incremental rate regardless of the employees’ level of work performance. Expecting improvement in work performance and productivity of employees in the subsequent year would be like wanting milk from a stone. Organizations should create strong linkages between employee performance and rewards systems to enhance staff productivity.