The performance appraisal process is one that few look forward to. However, understanding the process can help managers and employees conduct a more fruitful appraisal. At the University of Texas at Dallas, managers are taught that “A chief purpose of any performance appraisal program is employee development. This goal is accomplished by helping the employee to do a better job and by developing in the employee the knowledge and skill to meet the future needs of the work unit and the institution.”
Establish a File
For managers to be effective and help employees develop skills and capabilities, it’s essential to begin the performance management process on the employee's first day. Create a file for each employee and record the accomplishments, areas for improvement and regular feedback throughout the year.
Provide Regular Feedback
Regular feedback should occur at least once each quarter and more frequently if an employee needs encouragement or motivation. According to the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, “The performance management process starts with employee planning and ends with an evaluation of employee progress. Managers and employees should meet to discuss planning and goals throughout the year. If possible, formally sitting down with your supervisor or manager on a quarterly basis is optimal. The process, at its best, is a collaborative one which should add value for both the employee and the employer.”
Employees thrive on feedback because it ensures they are performing job duties and responsibilities according to the company’s expectations. The feedback can be given in a casual manner, provided the topic of the feedback is suitable for a casual meeting. Always document any feedback you provide to employees, even if it’s just to say “great job.”
Throughout the year, an employee may engage in behavior that warrants disciplinary action. Your company’s procedure for addressing discipline should include a requirement to document every disciplinary action taken. All disciplinary issues and improvements are taken into account during the annual performance appraisal meeting.
Management by Objectives
Management by objectives, or MBOs, is another step in the performance appraisal process used for some employees who have defined goals and steps to achieve each goal. These MBOs really should be reviewed quarterly to track progress or redefine the goal if neither of you see enough progress. MBOs are also particularly helpful to employees who are on a professional career track within your business.
Conduct the Appraisal Meeting
As the time nears for scheduling the appraisal meeting, begin preparing the performance appraisal document. Many companies have lengthy forms that require managers to record relatively detailed information about the employee’s performance in all areas of the job. Performance is rated in areas such as job proficiency, interpersonal relationships, communication skills and aptitude.
Some employers consider employee self-evaluations. In these cases, the employee should prepare her comments about her performance during the past year. Both the manager and the employee should feel comfortable during the appraisal meeting. Tension will just make the meeting agenda much more difficult and uncomfortable than it needs to be.
Follow Up Action
After the performance appraisal meeting, there will likely be follow up matters such as discussing areas for improvement, establishing goals for the next year and confirming the employee's salary or wage increase. In addition, the manager and employee may schedule another time to discuss unresolvable issues that arise during the performance appraisal meeting.