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Conducting the appraisal

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We appraises employee performance for two reasons: to assess performance and to counsel the employee in further development. The ultimate goal is to inspire the employee to reach his/her potential. 
Ideally, appraisal procedures are geared to the employee’s level of performance. They may focus on developing a promising employee, maintaining current satisfactory performance, or remedying substandard performance. To be successful, the appraisal procedure must be clearly understood by the employee and the Front Line leader. The appraisal must be a valid measure of the employee’s effectiveness, taking into account his/her level of authority. 

A detailed Performance Appraisal document can be used by your organization’s Human Resource and leadership personnel. The employees should be encouraged to make comments on the form. These need not be a rebuttal (although this is possible). Ideally, they will address suggestions, career expectations, etc. Both Front Line leader and employee should sign and date the completed Performance Appraisal. The employee’s signature is a confirmation only of the discussion. 

Should a disagreement arise between employee and Front Line leader about the Performance Appraisal assessment and/or development plan, both parties should make a concerted effort to reassess the data and seek an agreement. Subsequent meeting(s) may need to be scheduled. If required, time should be used constructively (and not as a point of pressure). When reviewing the performance data, other resource people such as the next-level manager and/or the Human Resource manager may need to assist. 

Conducting a Performance Appraisal 

Conducting an effective Performance Appraisal is not a “sit down, shut up and listen while I tell you your strengths and weaknesses” presentation. In fact, the most effective appraisal discussions are just that — discussions. They are two-way discussions that involve preparation and participation by both the Front Line leader and the employee. The following is a nine-step approach for conducting an effective Performance Appraisal: 

1. Prepare. 

Plan the appointment two to three weeks in advance, and at that time give the employee a blank copy of the form that will be used in the interview. Ask the employee to fill it out in advance of the meeting. This encourages the employee to think through his/her own job performance and area needing improvement - when measured against the Performance Standards. Before the meeting, the Front Line leader should list the employee’s key strengths and areas that need improvement. 

2. Greet the employee. 

Greet the employee warmly, getting out from behind your desk to reduce the “I’m the boss” image that can easily inhibit communication. Say something like, “During this interview, I’d like to offer any assistance I can give and answer any questions you may have. It’s your interview and I’m here to help in whatever way you wish me to.” 

3. Determine the topic(s) the employee wants to discuss first. 

This can be achieved by having you and the employee exchange the draft Performance Appraisal forms you have just completed. There is a strong likelihood that the two of you will have independently reached agreement on many of the factors. Beginning with a topic or issue that the employee is prepared to discuss can reduce tension. It may also increase the employee’s acceptance of changes that you suggest be made later in the interview. 

4. Discuss concerns not mentioned by the employee. 

Ask the employee to describe why he/she chose that particular self-rating. Probe into his/her rationale with open-ended, non-judgmental questions. Seek out facts, reference points and previous Performance Appraisals to better understand the employee’s perspective. Keep the discussion on objective issues (that is, performance versus personality). 

Then, as the leader, explain why you chose your particular rating for the factor. Again, deal with objective data (not your “gut feeling” or hearsay). At this point there is usually enough new information or clarification about old information on the table, so that one or both parties can see themselves logically revising their assessment on the factor. In this way both parties demonstrate their willingness to listen, learn and change positions based on new inputs. 

This type of problem-solving discussion will repeat itself until all factors have been covered. 

5. Develop a written Action Plan for carrying out key solutions in a specific time period. 

6. Give specific feedback to the employee on positive performance that has not already been discussed. 

• Describe the employee’s positive behaviour in specific terms and give examples. 
• Tell the employee why his/her positive performance is important to you, your organization and to the employee. 
• Spell out your future expectations of the employee. 
• Express your appreciation. 
• Develop Action Plans for utilizing the employee’s strengths, if appropriate. 

7. Summarize the interview and discuss ratings. 

The Front Line leader should communicate the ratings now rather than earlier in the interview. This helps the employee to accept the ratings since critical job performance areas have already been discussed in detail. 

8. Set follow-up dates. 

9. Thank the employee.

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