Recently I was attending an appraisal training course and it amazed me the different opinions everyone had of performance appraisals.
Having worked with organisations in the past who used appraisals effectively as a way to firstly keep people informed of how they were performing, secondly using the time allocated to discuss with staff members their future aspirations and ambitions and thirdly as a way to motivate people, I was surprised at some of the comments I heard from other people on the course.
What amazed me, even more, was a lot of the people were Managers as the course was titled Appraisal Training for Managers. I sat there contemplating if these people are managers and feel like this about appraisals, what hope do they have carrying out effective appraisals on their own teams.
To me it was such a waste, as I really do see appraisals as a way to enhance performance and motivate people, I remember years ago being on an appraisal training course and the trainer saying that ‘people need to get feedback and know how they are performing’ and if you do this, and do it effectively you will build a stronger team.
When the appraisal training for managers course was over I decided to ask a few of the managers what were the biggest problems they had encountered over the years with carrying out performance appraisals. From this, I decided to point out a few of them in this article.
- No Surprises
Managers often put off having difficult conversations with employees about performance issues and then eventually have to say something in the appraisal interview. As managers of people we must understand that managing performance is an ongoing part of our job and we need to deal with issues as and when they arise.
We need to follow these key steps that were on a power point slide I had access to on the appraisal training form managers course.
- Identify the performance issue
- Gain agreement that the issue exists
- Explore the reasons for the performance issue
- Agree SMART goals to correct the issue (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Frame)
I know this seems simple but we have to do this on an ongoing basis and as said on the appraisal training course deal with issues when they arise, not wait for the appraisal to talk about it.
- Focus on job performance, not the person
Performance appraisal experts and particularly trainers who teach the key skills of performance appraisals through performance appraisal training courses will all say one of the key areas that go wrong with appraisers who have to appraise their team is the ability to separate the person from the performance.
I recall being on a performance appraisal training programme once and someone saying always remember ‘Love the Person but hate their mistakes’
I have carried that statement with me through all the appraisal training sessions I have been involved in as it sticks in my mind as being one of the key areas of appraisal and it is always said in training courses if you retain one thing and use it, the time has been well spent and this statement is one that I think of every time I hear of appraisals or an appraisal training course.
- Remember the word praise is in the word appraisal
So many managers during an appraisal tell people about the areas they need to improve which is really important. We must also tell people about the areas of work they do well, we need to get good at praising people when they do a good job.
Like what was said to participants on the appraisal training course about dealing with the poor performance we should praise people in a timely manner when they have done a good job and not wait for the appraisal. We can then reemphasise the praise in the appraisal.