"I will soon be conducting performance appraisals for each of my team members. I want to make sure I do a good job as each of them is a high performer. How do I conduct a successful performance appraisal?"
Jo Causon, Director, marketing and corporate affairs, Chartered Management Institute
Conducting an effective appraisal requires excellent communication skills and demands thorough preparation. It is also a chance for you to formally recognize the achievements of your team and find out how they feel about their role within the organization so you can plan for their continuing professional development.
The focus of performance appraisals has shifted in recent years from simply reflecting the past to improving future performance of the employee by means of a well-prepared, honest and open discussion. A well thought out and valuable appraisal should focus on behaviors and outcomes, issues and problems. Through two-way discussion, it should outline constructive development plans to improve performance.
Before starting the appraisal itself, compile evidence to demonstrate the points you intend to make and review the past year's objectives to see if they have all been met.
You will also need to inform the team member about the purpose of the appraisal and the structure that it will follow. Make sure you let them know of any work required in advance. For example they may need to consider personal strengths, weaknesses and achievements from the past year. You might also ask the employee to reflect on the value, and practical application of, training or development activities that have taken place in the past year for the discussion.
The time of the appraisal itself should be agreed and kept. Make sure that you conduct it in a private room where you will be free from interruption and can talk in confidence. Like in interviews, people can feel nervous in appraisals, so it is important to ensure they can relax.
Develop the discussion around objectives, any problems experienced during the past period, evaluation of professional development carried out, goals for the next 12 months and support required in order to attain them.
Use the appraisal to offer an opportunity for the individual to explain where they think problems lie and to give possible solutions. Even in high performing teams there is room for improvement so discuss and agree how this can be achieved through development and training.
Once you are sure you have reached understanding and commitment in terms of objectives, the means to achieve them, and dates that serve as targets or review points, a way of measuring future goals needs to be put in place. Make sure you agree on a follow-up date and know who will write up the objectives and set up the development activities.
Most importantly, end the appraisal on a positive note so that you both leave feeling progress has been made.
While it is essential that you get what you need from the appraisal, it must also be of use to the employee so that they have a clear indication of career development opportunities and future goals.
When considering development opportunities, remember that to be truly effective, training must be linked to the overall business strategy. Research conducted by the Chartered Management Institute and supported by the DTI, suggests that when this is the case, business performance increases. Read the research at the CMI Web site
If you can marry the needs of the individual with the needs of your organization, you are sure to provide your employees with some developmental challenges to work towards for the improvement of their own careers and the longer term business objectives.
Director, marketing and corporate affairs
Chartered Management Institute
The Chartered Management Institute is the only chartered professional body that is dedicated to management and leadership. It is committed to raising the performance of business, supporting and advising individuals and organizations, and to help tackle the management challenges you face on a daily basis. E-mail to a friend
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