Nine Tips for Smooth Performance Appraisals—Guidance for Managers

As managers sit down to prepare for a performance appraisal, they need to remember that this is a stressful time for the employee as well as the manager. Unless there is a significant performance or behavior issue, employees should leave the meeting feeling good about their accomplishments, feedback, career development, and their relationship with their supervisor. Here are nine tips to make the process go more smoothly.

  1. Review the employee’s goals and development plan, their accomplishments, feedback from key stakeholders with whom the employee has worked (either informally or through 360-degree surveys), and your correspondence with the employee.  Your credibility is an important factor.
  2. Create a comfortable environment. Schedule the review well in advance at a time and place that is convenient for you and the employee.
  3. Employee engagement session. Weeks before the formal review, consider holding individual employee engagement sessions to get their views on their performance, what they like most about their work, the team and the company, and what they don’t like.
  4. No surprises. No employee should be surprised by anything on his or her performance appraisal unless a significant performance, behavior, or ethical issue has occurred in the past week. Of course, no surprises means that the supervisor has maintained regular and timely feedback and open communications with the employee throughout the year and at key milestones.
  5. Provide praise and allow the employee to feel good about their accomplishments! Adults generally do not hear enough praise. Providing positive feedback and praise reinforces those behaviors. Build their sense of achievement, self-esteem and sense of self-worth. The level of appropriate praise will differ with each employee, so be flexible!
  6. Provide constructive feedback with suggestions for improvement. Research shows that constructive feedback is more impactful when the reviewer gives suggestions for improvement.  Keep the feedback to job performance, not the individual.
  7. Choose your words carefully and rehearse. As you give the review, be aware that your tone of voice, your expressions and body language will actually make a bigger impact than the words you use. Rehearse your expression and tone of voice as well what you will say.
  8. Ask for feedback. You may modify the review based on the accuracy of the employee’s feedback. Also check to see that your messages have been heard. Many coaching models call for the employee to articulate their improvement goals and any assistance they may want regarding coaching or training. Listen for this.
  9. It is important to bring closure to the process. Make sure the employee understands what they did well, areas for development and what you have agreed to do to assist the employee’s development or to improve the work environment. Be sure to cover your understanding of the employee’s long-term career goal, and the developmental opportunities for this year.

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