Employee appraisals are a key part of any company's workforce management efforts, since you can't hope to get the best out of your people if you don't have a clear idea of their performance and potential.
As important as it is, this is an area where there are many problems and potential pitfalls for businesses to be wary of.
If you feel there’s scope for improvement in your appraisals, here are some of the steps you can take to enhance the process:
1. Focus on goals
Like many business functions and procedures, staff appraisals are more effective when they're goal-oriented. You should go into every appraisal with a clear idea of the objectives you want to achieve, in terms of both the individual worker and the organization as a whole.
Some of the best results are gained when your performance management methods allow you to set goals that are relevant and motivational for employees, but also closely linked to what the business is working to achieve.
This is the rationale behind management by objectives - a strategy that involves managers and their team members working closely together to set targets and to track progress towards reaching these aims.
2. Give regular feedback
Employee performance appraisals shouldn't be one-off or annual events that exist in isolation and have no connection to the individual's day-to-day work or the company's challenges and ambitions.
This should be an ongoing process that’s relevant and helpful to managers and employees alike. One of the ways you can achieve this is by maintaining ongoing communication with your people and giving them continuous feedback.
- 43% of highly engaged employees receive constant feedback on their performance
- 15% of workforce turnover can be reduced with regular, constructive feedback
- 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were fully recognized
Having a system in place to give regular feedback is a great way to incentivize employees by acknowledging their hard work and to maintain healthy communication between managers and their teams.
3. Make it a two-way process
The old-fashioned perception of employee appraisals is that the worker plays a passive role in the process, with their manager sitting them down and giving them a talk about how they're performing and what they should be doing differently.
Taking this approach brings major risks, one of the biggest of which is the worker feeling that they're being lectured and bossed around, rather than being included in the process.
For the best results, employees should have an active part to play in their appraisals and should feel that they have just as much to gain from the experience as their manager does.
You can put the views and goals of your workers front and center by using self-evaluations to set the stage for appraisals.
4. Use appraisals to redefine roles
All businesses - but particularly smaller, rapidly growing firms - are constantly changing and adjusting to the various challenges and opportunities around them. This means the roles within organizations have to change too, and this should be reflected in appraisals.
You can use the process as an opportunity to revisit job descriptions and to make sure they truly reflect what employees do on a day-to-day basis. This gives managers the chance to strengthen their understanding of the workforce and the individuals within it.
Workers can also benefit from gaining complete clarity about the parameters of their job and what's expected of them.
5. Keep things simple and specific
Employees are much more likely to disengage from their appraisals and to develop negative associations with them if the entire process feels convoluted, stressful and difficult.
Ideally, the appraisal process should be seen as something that rewards and supports your staff, not a chore that makes them feel like they're being tested, or just eats up time they could be using to get on with their job.
Managers and workers alike have a lot to gain from making the appraisal process as uncomplicated as possible. By focusing on specificity and ensuring that every aspect of your appraisals has a clear reason for existing, you can keep things simple and ensure everyone benefits, without wasting time or creating unnecessary stress.