Effective performance appraisals to become the leader

Deliver more effective performance appraisals and become the leader your employees can trust by applying these ten practical and proven tips.

1. Plan Meetings in Advance
Most organisations have an annual performance appraisal cycle so time block and book meetings well in advance. Schedule your one on ones with each employee and, if you don’t have an office, book meeting rooms at the same time. Even though your company may not require a formal progress review schedule time for at least one informal check as well.

2. Make Meeting a Priority
Tell employees that these meetings are a priority and rescheduling is non-negotiable (unless there’s an emergency of course). Actions speak louder than words so the same rule applies to you. Every time you postpone you send a message to your “most valuable asset” that someone else is more important.

3. Activate your Reminder System
Create a bring up at least two weeks prior to each round of meetings with a reminder to check that your meeting rooms are still available.
Remind employees that they need to begin their preparation too. The most effective approach is a personal one so use your regular team meeting to restate the purpose of performance appraisal and your expectation that people will arrive well prepared.
Record appraisal meetings on a highly visible wall planner too. It not only serves as a reminder but also quietly reinforces the message that you really do value your employees by taking their development seriously.

4. Create an Employee Portfolio
At the beginning of each cycle create a secure and confidential file for each employee. This file is for your eyes only and solely for the purpose of performance appraisal. It’s not a duplicate HR Personal File.
Keep your photocopy of the employee’s current performance appraisal and file notes on progress and achievements throughout the year. You can also use Email folders for each employee to quickly and easily file copies of relevant messages. And, if you use a hard copy dairy allocate a section to jot notes.
Use your discretion and common sense when gathering information. You’re not building an iron-clad case for the High Court. Your intention is to create a balanced picture of the employee’s performance, one that’s less subjective and backed up with practical examples.

5. Don’t Rely On Memory
A year is a long time, especially if you don’t include progress reviews, so it’s very easy to forget an employee’s earlier accomplishments. This contributes to the “recency effect” where reviewers evaluate and rate performance based on recent events only.
Prepare for your one on one meeting by reviewing each file and briefly summarising progress and achievements. This is much more effective than relying on memory, especially where you have several employees. Once the performance appraisal cycle is over purge the file and start afresh.

6. Involve Employee’s
Employee’s suffer from the recency effect too so encourage your people to maintain their own portfolio as well. After all it’s their career and their performance appraisal.
Some employees feel uncomfortable reviewing their own performance; a personal portfolio makes it much easier for these people to highlight achievements. It also helps them to explain and substantiate reasons for a lack of progress, particularly where factors were beyond their control.

7. Support the Soft with the Hard
The personal portfolio also helps with the notoriously difficult evaluation of “soft” objectives, such as individual contribution to teamwork. Incidents, comments and emails from customers and colleagues can be noted and copied for the file. It all helps to build a more reliable view of an employee’s interpersonal behaviours.

8. Communicate
Explain your system to employees so they understand what you’re doing and why. Compared to the manager who postpones meetings, makes broad generalisations and relies entirely on memory to determine a final rating, you’ll be seen as the leader employee’s trust

9. Keep Up to Date
Once you’ve set up your system keep it up to date. A small amount of thought and regular effort throughout the year will save you a great deal of time when it comes to all those one on one meetings. It won’t become the end of year administrative chore many managers’ dread. Most importantly, it helps you to give your employees a fair and more effective appraisal. If it were your appraisal would you expect anything less?

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