6 Ways Great Leaders Conduct an Effective Performance Appraisal

As a supervisor, there are some tasks that are less than enjoyable. More often than not, the employee performance appraisal is one of those responsibilities.  Like all things, practice makes perfect, and the same could be said for conducting an effective and engaging performance appraisal. With a little finesse and some organization, you can conduct better performance reviews for the benefit of you and your employees.

Prepare Ahead of Time

In order to provide clear and concise performance feedback, organizing thoughts is key to staying on track. This means you have to understand the employee’s job, the requirements associated with it, as well as how their actual performance rates against the predetermined expectations. Prepare an itinerary ahead of time complete with open-ended questions to prompt conversation with your employee.

It’s a Conversation

You’re not the only one in the room so you shouldn’t be the only one talking. While it is a discussion about the employee’s performance, they should have an input as well. Harold M. Messmer, Jr. (@RobertHalfFA), Chairman and CEO of Robert Half said:

“Keep in mind you’re having a two-way discussion. This is not a criticism session, so avoid detailing every mistake an employee has made and don’t dominate the conversation. Make it instead a chance to discuss a team member’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of his or her achievements over the review period.”

Don’t be Afraid to Confront

Positive reinforcement is a good practice to uphold, however, not every employee is going to have a performance appraisal that is all shooting stars. Only 35% of high performing employees feel their supervisors speak with them honestly about their performance. Some managers would rather avoid confrontation than explain how exactly an employee can improve performance. Keep in mind these are critiques, so they are meant to aid the employee.

Provide a Takeaway

Unfortunately, 98% of employees see their performance reviews as a waste of time. Give your employees something to learn from the meeting. No one is perfect, so there is always something new to try or practice to change. If you or your employees haven’t gleaned anything from the performance appraisal, was it really worth it? Professionals spend enough time in meetings they don’t need to be in. You can save yourself and your team a lot of time by building the performance review around key takeaways.

Change the Orientation

You’ve already noticed a reason for change in your current performance appraisal process. Maybe it’s simply the way you position the meeting in the first place. Depending on the disposition and learning style of your employees, adjust the review accordingly. Try taking these approaches to adjust the performance appraisal for different employees:

  • Learning goal-oriented: These are the employees that enjoy learning for the sake of gaining knowledge and who pursue challenges despite setbacks.
  • Performance-prove goal-oriented: These employees want to perform at their best in order to prove their competence in a position.
  • Performance-avoid goal-oriented: These employees don’t want to look foolish and may not take direct criticism well.

Focus on the Progress

A main component of failed performance appraisal processes is that they are just that, nothing more than a required process. Since you have several employees to take care of in your department, it does not give reason to allow the meaning of the review to slip through the cracks. Get rid of the “good job” and “this needs improvement” statements, and focus on how much the employee has grown and where their development can take them in the company.

Employees typically dread the performance appraisal, but they don’t have to. Supervisors aren’t fond of the practice either. However, if the reviews are conducted in a more discussion-oriented manner with an emphasis on progress and providing a helpful takeaway. As a manager, you can conduct performance reviews better by communicating goals and expectations before the review. Prepare questions to prompt discussion, and target communication with your employees to set the stage for a more productive team and a review that is worth the time of you and your employee.