While you might not look forward to carrying out appraisals with your employees or members of your team, they are a very good way to keep track of performance and to make sure that staff are working happily and productively.
If appraisals are to be successful in motivating employees and enhancing job performance, it’s essential that you plan and conduct effective appraisal interviews.
Preparation for an appraisal interview is one of the most important stages of the appraisal process.
Keeping the Necessary Records
You must have the necessary facts about your employee’s performance before you when you carry out an appraisal interview. Since they are generally conducted once a year, and no manager has a perfect memory, you should make records throughout the year of instances when your employees have performed well, adequately or badly.
Doing so will provide specific, factual examples of job performance for you to discuss with each employee during the appraisal interview. Without such evidence, the appraisal interview may turn into a haphazard chat based on generalisations – which is neither meaningful or constructive.
Having specific examples will be particularly important if you need to discuss aspects of an employee’s performance that are not wholly satisfactory. This will act as a starting point for discussion on why performance was not satisfactory in the particular area and what can be done to achieve an improvement in the future. Without concrete examples, your employee may not accept your claim that their performance was unsatisfactory and they may become defensive.
Checklist for Appraisal Interview Preparation
If you fail to prepare properly for an appraisal interview, the employee being interviewed will quickly sense and resent this.
Dos and don’ts:
- Do review the job description and the previous year’s appraisal report to check the job duties and responsibilities and what was said at the previous year’s appraisal.
- Do talk to other managers or supervisors – and peers where appropriate – with whom the employee has been working during the year to obtain factual feedback on performance.
- Do think through what aspects of the employee’s performance are to be discussed and identify specific examples of both good and not-so-good performance.
- Do be prepared to back up any criticism with facts and examples.
- Do consider what points the employee may wish to raise and think through how any delicate areas can best be handled.
- Do agree the date, time and place for the interview at least two weeks in advance, taking into account the employee’s preferences. Part-time employees should be appraised at times that fall within their normal working hours.
- Don’t underestimate the time necessary for the interview. There is no ideal length of time for an appraisal interview, but it useful to schedule more time than you think you will need to avoid having to cut a discussion short.
- Don’t forget to brief each employee well in advance about the purpose and scope of the appraisal interview.
- Don’t be tempted to complete the appraisal form until after the interview, although you should review the appraisal form and make some provisional notes.
- Don’t allow interruptions during the interview and make sure that there are no distractions from mobile phones and other electronic devices.
- Don’t overlook the importance of taking into account the personality and temperament of each employee. Any likely reactions should be identified beforehand and an appropriate response planned. Different styles of interview may be needed to cater for individual needs. A relatively insecure employee may, for example, need a lot of reassurance.
Employees should be properly briefed before their appraisal interview on what the interview is for, how it will be conducted and what they should expect to gain from it. These briefings can be done on a group basis. However, it is also important for you to make sure that each individual has the opportunity to raise questions about the purpose and process of appraisal and to have any doubts or concerns dealt with.
The briefings can be carried out at the same time as the self-appraisal forms are issued.
If you’re planning your annual appraisals and you need any help or advice with getting the best from them, you can listen to the free webinar that we held last year. Just click here to find it. If you have any specific questions, please do get in touch by calling 0118 940 3032 or emailing me here.