Appraisals are a two-headed process of looking backwards to analyse past job performance and also looking forward into the future with a view to improving future performance.
The overall objective of an effective appraisal scheme should be to help each of your employees to maximise their job performance for the joint benefit of that employee and your organisation.
This blog aims to help line managers to understand the processes involved in conducting effective appraisals.
The Purpose of appraisals
The main purpose of an appraisal scheme should be to assist employees to improve their performance. This will be of benefit to both the employees and the organisation.
An appraisal scheme may be designed to include some or all of the following elements:
- a review of the employee’s past performance
- discussion of the employee’s strengths and weaknesses
- discussion of any problems and constraints, with a view to identifying solutions
- a review of the extent to which the employee has achieved set targets
- discussion of appropriate targets for the forthcoming year
- identification of training and development needs in relation to the employee’s current job
- identification of training and development needs in relation to a job that the employee may do in the future
- a review of the employee’s long-term potential
- a discussion about the employer’s future plans and
- a discussion about the employee’s future ambitions and plans.
The Benefits of Appraisals
If carried out effectively, a staff appraisal scheme will provide benefits for the individual, the line manager and the organisation.
What are the Problem Areas to Look For?
While appraisal schemes have many potential benefits, it is useful for line managers to appreciate the negative issues that they may sometimes raise.
- If appraisal is linked to the organisation’s pay review process, discussions may become focused on pay instead of performance. Pay reviews are therefore best kept separate from performance appraisal.
- The line manager may be tempted to use the appraisal interview to raise disciplinary matters. If there is a problem with an employee’s conduct or performance, the matter should be raised with the employee at the time the problem arises, and not stored up for the annual appraisal interview.
- Managers may be reluctant to deliver criticism on a face-to-face basis, perhaps because of a fear that the employee might react badly, become defensive or even respond negatively to the whole process of appraisal.
- Line managers may not work closely with their staff and may not therefore have the necessary insight into their performance or strengths and weaknesses. If this is the case, it will be vital for the line manager to talk to the employee’s immediate supervisor to gain the necessary feedback.
- Personal likes and dislikes can affect the outcome of appraisal interviews, unless the line manager has a sound awareness of these, and is able to put them to one side and view the employee’s abilities objectively.
- An employee may believe that the line manager holds prejudices against him or her, perhaps as a result of a personality clash or because of disagreements over the year.
- Some employees are intrinsically suspicious of appraisal.
If you need more advice about appraisals, you can listen to the free webinar that we ran in October 2017. Click here to register your details and you’ll be able to listen to the webinar straight away.