Managers, especially in large organizations are often required to adhere to a particular process of employee performance appraisals. It doesn't matter whether they like or dislike the system, find the appraisal process easy or difficult to follow, or understand what they could achieve in a system they designed, they are required to follow the organization's approach. These managers want to know how they can improve their employee performance appraisals when they can't overhaul their employee evaluation system altogether.
The fact is that not every manager has the opportunity to have an impact on or help design or improve the overall performance appraisal system within which they must work. But, every manager can take the system they’ve been given to use and turn the performance appraisal process into a positive, rewarding, beneficial process for both themselves and the employees who report to them.
Managers Can Improve Their Performance Appraisals
Managers can improve their performance appraisals and make them into effective communication, goal setting, and development tools for employees. They can make these improvements while operating within the requirements of their system of performance evaluations.
Managers can start by implementing the suggestions that are made in this performance development planning process and this performance development process checklist. As a result of using these tools, managers can end up with the required performance appraisal document but make the performance appraisal process useful—for the employee and the organization.
Managers can make sure that the employee is clear about their goals by the approach they used to accomplish the task. They can make certain that any component of their employer's process that causes the manager to rate, rank, or limit the employee's performance is minimized.
Looking for Immediate Improvement in Your Appraisals?
Managers can make an immediate improvement in their performance appraisal system by implementing these five recommendations.
Use the Appraisal Document As a Discussion Starter
Use the performance appraisal document periodically, at least quarterly preferably weekly, throughout the year to assess employee progress. The performance appraisal document is a useful discussion starter. It consolidates employee performance information in one spot.
The performance appraisal report provides a running record of employee performance discussions all year. It offers a picture of the employee's accomplishments and progress—or lack thereof—throughout the year.
Provide Regular Employee Feedback
Provide feedback to employees regularly—not just in the annual performance appraisal. Employees want and like regular feedback (particularly millennial employees) and effective managers take time every day to provide employee feedback.
In a survey by "Betterworks," they found that continuous performance management practices, such as frequent employee feedback, produced better results for the company. In fact, they reported that organizations using these practices outperformed their competition by 24%.
On the plus side, when managers practice providing more frequent feedback, they get more comfortable with feedback. They become better at giving feedback and they can nip any performance problems before they become big.
Make the Discussion Two-Way
Engage the employees in a two-way discussion whenever their performance is the topic. You can improve performance appraisals by involving the employee in the discussion all year long. Then the official performance appraisal day is just an extension of the normal performance discussion.
Effective performance appraisals are never a talk to an employee by a manager. If the manager is talking even half the time, the performance appraisal is not a two-way conversation. It’s a lecture. Make the majority of the conversation positive, reinforcing, and developmental for the employee. After all, it's his or her stage—in a performance appraisal done correctly.
Use Employee Self-Appraisals to Set the Stage
Improve performance appraisals by using an employee self-appraisal prior to the performance appraisal. Far too many managers give employees a copy of the actual form before the performance appraisal meeting. Use these sample questions to develop an effective self-evaluation form.
In the worst cases, both the manager and the employee fill out the form prior to the meeting, give the employee a grade or score, and then, arrive at the performance appraisal meeting deeply dug into their positions and points of view.
Even worse, some managers tell the employees to fill out their performance appraisals, and if they do a good job, the manager will sign it. In this recommendation, the manager arrives at the meeting with ideas jotted down on the form; the employee comes with their self-appraisal filled out and then the discussion begins.
Effective Performance Appraisal Trusts Employees
An effective performance appraisal trusts employees to do the right thing if they know what the right thing to do is. Consequently, setting performance goals is critically important, but how these goals are set with the employee is the most important factor of all.
Set goals in a way that reinforces the employee's ability to plan and implement the steps necessary to reach the goal. The performance appraisal must support and strengthen the employee's empowerment, his or her ability to chart the course to successful accomplishments.
The Bottom Line
You can use these five ideas immediately to improve your performance appraisals. The performance of employees will improve and the manager will feel that their input was significant in helping the employee continuously grow in their ability to accomplish and contribute. This sounds like a win all around.