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How to do a Performance Appraisal … well!

Why do Performance Appraisals have such bad press?

It’s not only from employees either – there are just as many business owners and managers out there who don’t seem to have a good word to say about them – one Shrewsbury business owner actually said to me with a deep sigh: “Oh no, not appraisal time again … I’d rather walk on burning coals!”

Yet, what’s wrong with taking time out to review progress, recognise successes, identify training and development needs and look for better ways of doing things?

I think the problem lies in TWO places: the WHAT and the HOW of performance appraisals.

The WHAT – a 12 page performance appraisal form and accompanying explanation booklet, the size of War and Peace, will frighten off the bravest manager and employee.

The HOW – a one-off annual performance appraisal with no other interim meetings, exchanges or management feedback, is rarely of value to employee, manager or organisation.

How to do a Performance Appraisal … well!

I challenge you to try this 6 Point Plan on How to do a Performance Appraisal … well! and see what a difference it makes!

1) For starters, KEEP IT SIMPLE – anything more than a couple of sheets of paper and you’re setting yourself up to fail before you begin.  A concise prompt form (see below) – ideally a page long is all you need.

2) Focus on 2-3 WORK OBJECTIVES – anything more is a waste of time (in my opinion!) – yes, it does help if they can be specific, measureable, achievable and timed!

3) Include a couple of STRETCH OBJECTIVES – something that will excite, challenge, stretch or develop your member of staff, not frighten them to death.

4) Be radical and APPRAISE more often – a shorter more regular appraisal meeting can be far more motivating than a once a year, three hour epic conversation.  They should also be supplemented with ongoing, good ‘ol face-to-face, two-way communications.

5) Give ALL-ROUND FEEDBACK a go (360 degree feedback sounds too much like geometry!) – managers really should know what their staff think of them and employees should know what their peers think too – a simple anonymous list of strengths and areas for improvement can be extremely valuable.

6) TRY IT! – a process can always be changed and improved, but the challenge is to make Performance Appraisals an important part of the business process, not an irksome add-on – that only comes with practice.

Still not sure, well add a comment below or pop a note on my contact form and I’ll send you my FREE one sheet Performance Appraisal Prompt Sheet to get you started. No excuses!

Look forward to hearing how it goes.

Kay

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  1. Andy Parkes says:

    Kay. You have shown how simple it should be, so why do people makes it so complex? I hope people who read this can take it into their companies and use it on a day to day basis. Twitter works, wouldn’t have seen this otherwise.

    • Kay Heald says:

      Andy, thanks so much for your comment (and for finding the blog on Twitter!) – I’m on a mission to make Appraisals useful for managers and their staff! Wish me luck!

  2. Leigh says:

    Kay, We’ve all heard the horror stories and dreaded fear associated with appraisals and I think you’ve summed it up nicely in that it should be kept simple!
    Personally I’ve found past appraisals invaluable for developing myself further as well as recognising skills I would have perhaps considered the norm. When carrying out performance appraisals for my team in the past, I found that ensuring it was a 2 way process and ‘owned’ by the individual was the key to growing people. Funnily enough it is one thing I really miss- no longer having a ‘boss’ to be accountable to!

    • Kay Heald says:

      Leigh – thanks so much for sharing your experiences – some lovely examples of ‘good’ appraisal techniques too! I think the point you make about individual ownership of the process is also key, which helps move staff away from feeling that an appraisal is something they ‘receive’ and ‘endure’, to something that they actively ‘participate and contribute to’.

4 responses to “How to do a Performance Appraisal … well!”

  1. Andy Parkes says:

    Kay. You have shown how simple it should be, so why do people makes it so complex? I hope people who read this can take it into their companies and use it on a day to day basis. Twitter works, wouldn’t have seen this otherwise.

    • Kay Heald says:

      Andy, thanks so much for your comment (and for finding the blog on Twitter!) – I’m on a mission to make Appraisals useful for managers and their staff! Wish me luck!

  2. Leigh says:

    Kay, We’ve all heard the horror stories and dreaded fear associated with appraisals and I think you’ve summed it up nicely in that it should be kept simple!
    Personally I’ve found past appraisals invaluable for developing myself further as well as recognising skills I would have perhaps considered the norm. When carrying out performance appraisals for my team in the past, I found that ensuring it was a 2 way process and ‘owned’ by the individual was the key to growing people. Funnily enough it is one thing I really miss- no longer having a ‘boss’ to be accountable to!

    • Kay Heald says:

      Leigh – thanks so much for sharing your experiences – some lovely examples of ‘good’ appraisal techniques too! I think the point you make about individual ownership of the process is also key, which helps move staff away from feeling that an appraisal is something they ‘receive’ and ‘endure’, to something that they actively ‘participate and contribute to’.