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How should I conduct employee appraisals?

How should I conduct employee appraisals?

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Too many managers believe that an employee doing their job well is enough to justify their existence and that appraisals are a waste of time. Done badly, they could be right!

Appraisals are an invaluable tool for rewarding achievement and improving performance. They let managers know how the various cogs in an organisation are operating and provide documentation should a worker’s performance ever drop below satisfactory levels. Employees benefit from positive reinforcement for good work and direction for how to build on this in the future. They also have the chance to hear about areas they could improve upon and be heard on any problems or ideas for improvement.

You can see it’s a benefit-packed area for everyone concerned. Here's some guidance on how to make appraisals your company’s most productive meetings of the year:

  • Regular – Appraisals should be conducted once or twice a year. They should simply formalise what you're already talking about so if your employee is surprised by what you say, something's amiss in your management technique.
  • Prepared – Show a genuine interest by honestly considering your employee’s performance and bringing specific points to discuss. Ask them to rate their own performance against their objectives prior to the appraisal.
  • Fair – Set the same standards for all employees doing the same job and allow problem employees an agreed amount to correct their shortcomings. The easiest way to ensure this is to standardise forms so a equal comparisons can be made.
  • Positive – The idea of appraisals is to improve an individual’s performance, not find fault or place blame. Always open with positive comments; when discussing problems, focus on how to overcome them.
  • Objective – Use a uniform rating scale and try to dampen personal opinions. However, don’t be afraid to present a balanced portrait that includes both positive and negative comments.
  • Forward looking – Working together to set objectives that are measurable and achievable increases the likelihood that they will be met. .
  • Clear – At the end, be sure the employee knows exactly what they have to achieve, and what the next steps are. Every company differs on whether an appraisal should be linked to pay review or not. Whichever your policy, be sure your employee understands it.

Don’t wait for appraisal time to let your employees know how they’re doing. Praise good work when it happens and intervene immediately if performance declines. Appraisals are vital but continuous feedback based on that is the key to effective performance improvement.

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