We have addressed the fact many times in our blogs that performance appraisal is not something that should be reserved for the ‘big annual review,’ but should also include both formal and informal feedback right throughout the year.
That said, there is a frequent assumption on the part of team members that the end of year review is the most important and most meaningful. And no doubt they’re partly right – it’s strategically timed at the end of the year to light the path for the coming year, and so it tends to take on an extra significance.
But before you rush into your annual assessments as part of your performance appraisal system, now is a good time to take a step back and remind yourself of what you’re actually trying to achieve. The tips below can help you do precisely that!
Stick to the basics. At the very centre of annual appraisals are just three key elements - Engagement, Motivation and Learning. If you get these right, you can empower and inspire people to reach even greater heights, and pave the way for continuous improvement in the year ahead.
By engaging people in the appraisal process, you move away from an ‘us and them’ scenario to ‘we’re all in this together’. By motivating, you increase the chance of success exponentially and also promote a sense of self-starting. By learning from the appraisal, people gain new insights, new directions and new strategies for a powerful, important meeting and one that’s worth preparing for.
Stay within the scope of the meeting. The tighter you keep the conversation, the better. Regardless of the company size or the industry you’re in, the vast majority of performance appraisal systems should focus on the following skills, and this provides a roadmap of sorts to keep both parties on the same page:
- Teamwork and collaboration.
- Communication skills.
- Problem-solving and creative thinking.
- The quality of work (over the past year, and/or in a specific situation).
- Overall approach to work, e.g. reliability, punctuality etc.
- The ability to get things done and tick off KPI’s
- Make sure it’s a two-way street. A successful appraisal should not be a lecture from a manager listening to his or her own voice. Rather, it should allow plenty of time for feedback from the team member, for questions or clarifications, and also for an element of self-assessment, i.e. “How do YOU think you've performed in your new role over the past twelve months?”
Automate things with a performance appraisal system. It can take anything from three to five hours for an individual appraisal, to include documenting the conversation, and even for a company with as few as 100 people, that’s stacks up to a whopping 500 hours. By using a performance approval system such as Frankli, you can automate much of the admin chore, while still retaining the integrity and accuracy of the process.
Stay specific with your feedback. ‘Specific’ beats ‘vague’ every single time. When providing feedback, it helps to give practical examples of what you mean. So instead of suggesting that teamwork has been poor, specify some instances where this was the case and also highlight any examples of where the person did better on teamwork, as the gold standard going forward.
Don’t shirk the hard conversation. You owe it to your team to be honest with them as part of your performance appraisal system. Decide in advance what are your ‘red lines’ in terms of performance, and be forthright enough to bring up any issues that need discussing. If there’s an issue that’s affecting the broader team or the company, tiptoeing around it will only make the matter worse and won't go anywhere towards resolving it.
If it isn’t recorded, it didn’t happen! People take different things from the same meeting, so rather than have an instance where the manager and team member have a different take on things, make sure that there is a written or audio summary of the meeting. This makes it very clear what was said - and what was agreed for the coming months and year.
End things on a high. Even if the review has been critical on a number of points, it’s all about future behaviour, so make sure you finish off with some positive comments about the team member’s performance, and how you’re expecting more of it over the coming year. This should be a fundamental part of any successful performance appraisal system.
Interested in learning more?
For further information on how Frankli can help you avoid the dreaded annual review, feel free to get in touch here.