Handling Performance Appraisals in a Nutshell

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 25 January 2017
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered:

The start of a new year is the perfect time to conduct appraisals with your staff. The appraisals process benefits both staff, management and the business as it allows for clear communication in a two-way process where both parties have equal opportunity to discuss the role, work performance, objectives and future goals. In her latest article, Caroline McEnery of HR Suite provides useful guidelines on carrying out performance appraisals.

Performance Appraisals

In advance of the meeting, the appraiser should inform their employees that they will be conducting a review with them approximately one week in advance. The appraiser should provide the employee with the correct template paperwork and ask them to prepare a review of their own performance.

Once staff have completed the appraisal form and returned it to management, it should then be reviewed and assessed by the appraiser. By ‘assessed’ we mean the appraiser should review how the staff have rated their skills, performance etc. The appraiser should outline in their own notes if they would rate a staff member higher than what they have rated themselves in each relevant category. Essentially the appraiser will be preparing their own review of the employee’s performance.

When conducting the meeting, both parties should be honest and fair in their review and feedback. Clear, relevant and achievable goals should be set for the year ahead and these should be agreed by both parties prior to the meeting concluding.

At least one meeting should take place during the year to review the progress of the goals. Following the correct process and using the right performance review forms ensures consistency in the process.

Advantages of Conducting Performance Appraisals

Conducting performance appraisals in your business has numerous advantages:

  • It enables a structured framework to record feedback.
  • It allows the appraiser to receive feedback and to give feedback to the employee on past performance and to set out objectives for the future.
  • It provides the opportunity to identify training needs and to give the employee an opportunity to improve.
  • It has positive effects such as improving staff motivation, performance and commitment to the company.

The appraiser needs to have the skills, qualities and knowledge to conduct the review. Asking the right questions is essential. The appraisee should be asked to be open and honest and ask questions and give feedback – they should talk 70% versus 30% appraiser. Useful questions to ask during the process include open questions which encourage them to talk: eg “How do you feel you are getting on”. Probing questions should also be used. These questions provide specifics, uncover feelings and attitudes: eg “Tell me more about working on that project”.

What is a Constructive Appraisal?

A constructive appraisal review has the following characteristics:

  • Achievement is recognised and reinforced.
  • Past performance is reviewed.
  • The appraiser listens actively.
  • There is honest and open discussion, reflection and analysis.
  • Action plans are agreed jointly.

Characteristics of a poor review meeting involve the appraiser focusing on appraisee negatives and failures. One where the appraisee has no input and that is controlled by the appraiser ends with disagreement and no set join objectives. A bad review meeting is one in which the appraisee leaves feeling demotivated by the process.

In conducting the appraisal, the appraiser must ensure that they:

  • Control the environment
  • Schedule an adequate amount of time
  • State the purpose of the discussion - explain that it’s a two-way process to allow for open communication.
  • Ask for the employee’s opinion.
  • Use appropriate questioning techniques i.e. probing and open questions.
  • Outline a review of their performance - be specific and give corrective and positive feedback.
  • Build on the employee’s strengths - ask the employee to name his or her strengths. The appraiser should outline their opinions of those strengths.
  • Ask for the employee’s feedback and listen to what the employee has to say.
  • Set specific goals - the appraiser must outline areas for improvement and identify training needs.
  • Close the discussion - the appraiser must summarise the meeting and both parties should sign the appraisal form.  The appraiser should thank the employee and explain the next steps.

After the appraisal, it’s important to follow up correctly:

  • Arrange any necessary follow up meeting.
  • Write up key points on the appraisal.
  • Write up targets/objectives which have been agreed.
  • A copy of all notes and forms to be placed in employees file.
  • Plan to conduct another meeting in 6 months’ time to ensure the staff member remains focused on achieving their objectives.

It is important to remember that the review meeting is only a small part of the process which should be occurring continually throughout the year. Managers and staff should continually review their progress against goals, make adjustments as necessary, and recognise achievements. Managers should give their team feedback to ensure that the organisation gets the most out of their most valuable resource – their people. 

This article is correct at 25/01/2017

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

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