Performance appraisal interviews
Performance appraisal interviews, Performance reviews help manager feel more honest in their relationships with their subordinates and feel better about themselves in their supervisory roles. Subordinates are assured clear understanding of what’s expected from them, their own personal strengths and areas for development and a solid sense of their relationship with their supervisor. Avoiding performance issues ultimately decreases morale, decreases credibility of management, decreases the organization’s overall effectiveness and wastes more of management’s time to do what isn’t being done properly.
The performance appraisal involves two parts – one, which is focused on the lessons from past performance and the other, which focuses on the future. This second part will include the new objectives and competencies, where appropriate, and the new development plan is prepared.
PREPARING FOR A REVIEW
Preparation will enable supervisors to make the most of the time they have with their employees during the review.
You should also encourage your employees to prepare – they have been encouraged to do this during their Performance Matters! Training, but may need further guidance and encouragement to make their preparation useful.
As a supervisor, there are a number of points to consider during preparation for your reviews:
ENSURE THAT EMPLOYEE
THE ORDER OF REVIEWS
Build up your own confidence by tackling relatively straight-forward situations first, then try more challenging ones i.e. Start with those who are willing and able rather than the ‘toughest nuts’.
Be aware of these particular types of bias and ensure you take the preventive measures mentioned:
Snap judgments – an employee does something particularly good or bad once, and this is allowed to bias our judgement for or against them thereafter. This is particularly relevant for supervisors who have limited contact with an employee.
Prevention: Base the review on performance against agreed objectives, and competencies, hold regular interim reviews and give feedback on a day to day basis.
Latest actions – allowing recent events to outweigh less recent events – a natural tendency since we tend to remember recent events much more clearly than older ones.
Sexual/racial/religious bias – treating a person differently purely because of his sex, race or religion. Always try and be aware of the risk of this type of bias, as it is particularly relevant to a multi-cultural organization such as our own.
CHECKING THE JOB DETAILS
Review the job description and KRA and KPI for the employees in advance in avoid the confusion.
Give staff adequate notice for preparation and schedule your own preparation. There is no short cut for good preparation so you should be prepared to be fair to yourselves and your employees, scheduling in your diary and allowing plenty of time.
Book a suitable venue. A private, quiet, and preferably neutral venue such as a conference room or a vacant office is best.
Have the relevant examples and paper work to hand, especially anything involving contentious issues, so that the discussion is based on fact.
One major benefit of regular interim reviews, together with continuous feedback of performance, is that preparation for the annual review becomes much quicker and easier.
Of course you need to prepare for a review, but it is also important to allow preparation time for staff. This will:
- emphasize the collaborative nature of the review.
- Allow time for self-assessment
- Help employees view the process positively.
A minimum of a week’s notice is recommended to allow employees adequate time to prepare for their performance reviews.
You should encourage staff to prepare for the review fully and base the discussion around the answers given. Where the employee has chosen to give you a copy of his preparation, use this to help with your own preparation for the review, particularly the section on what objectives he thinks might be appropriate.
CONDUCTING PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL INTERVIEW
Most reviewers are aware that they must try and put the employee at ease at the start of any interview or discussion. This often translates as 10 minutes of idle chat about the weather, family or travel to work. Many employees find this type of opening inappropriate and false, especially where these topics are not normally discussed. Since the opening sets the tone for the rest of the discussion, it is important that you get this bit right.
Try putting yourself in the shoes of the employee – you would want to know what to expect from this session, what you have to do and what the tone of the discussion will be. Answering these questions is the most effective way to relax the employee. You might also consider the following:
- Involve the employee immediately.
It is recommended that you involve the employee within the first 5 seconds by greeting him and asking him if he has managed to prepare for the session. You should treat the employee respectfully. Your opening questions should be easy to answer, e.g.
“Would you like me to run through the purpose of our discussion and how I thought we would go about it?”
“Is there anything that has caused you concern that you would like to address early on?”
Encouraging the employee to give his views first is the most effective way of ensuring a genuinely joint discussion that will lead to a genuinely joint agreement on action. If by being encouraged to talk first your employee can see that his views count, and this forms the basis of the discussion, then the majority of his fears and reservations about the review will disappear at a stroke.
This should consist of review of progress against the agreed objectives and development plan and an assessment of the level of each critical competency. The performance review should be a chance to take stock of the past and look to the future through the process of objective setting, identification of any new competencies, needed to help attain these new objectives and formulation of the development plan. The recommended steps to be taken with regard to each objective or competency are given below:
- Ask the employee for views on how well objectives have been met and competencies have been demonstrated.
- Establish reasons for this view.
- Reinforce and praise achievements.
- Raise specific cases
- where you believe there is scope for improvement.
- Encourage self-appraisal in these areas.
- Focus on how the employee believes his contribution can be improved.
Following these steps will help to make the review more of a consultative process in which the employee is asked to think about his/ her performance and is coached towards arriving at his/ her own solutions and proposed actions. He is then more likely to be committed to the actions agreed and the chances of successful completion are therefore improved.
Keeping on track
It is easy to go off on tangents during a review. This can be avoided by taking the following actions to help keep the discussion focused:
Take one area at a time
A common problem with reviews is that people try to deal with too many things at once. This creates confusion, which can be avoided by dealing with one issue at a time, and then summarizing what has been agreed at the end of each area.
Restate the purpose
A simple but effective technique is to repeat the purpose of the meeting whenever the discussion starts to go off on a tangent.
When a discussion about performance begins to lose its focus, one way of getting it back on track is to start taking notes in full view of the employee. Effectively these notes summarize what has been said and emphasize the important nature of work to the employee – this will tend to encourage people to take more care to give you the correct information and provide you with the kind of information you were looking for.
This is a technique for putting aside any issues that arise that are not directly relevant to the discussion or are trivial. They are ‘parked’ to be dealt with at a later date. These are issues that need to be discussed but which, if dealt with at the time raised, will distract from the main aim of the discussion. Make sure you do set up follow-up time to deal with ‘parked’ issues. Otherwise people will view it as a delaying tactic and will be reluctant to allow you to ‘park’ a topic.
If, however, an issue arises that surpasses the review itself in terms of urgency and importance, then you may wish to ‘park’ the review in order to deal with this issue. Be prepared to do this if necessary.
Performance appraisal interview will end with the feedback and development plan session
The ability to give effective feedback is an essential skill for any supervisor if he or she is to be able to manage the performance of staff. Most supervisors, however, do not give feedback regularly and staff may feel that they do not know how they could do a better job. This section gives you some useful information on how to give effective feedback.
Why is it important to give feedback regularly?
- It is a chance to give praise and recognition where appropriate so that employees remain motivated.
- It allows the employee to take responsibility for his own work and to modify his performance where necessary so that he is performing in live with your expectations and can avoid any problem which might otherwise develop (self-management!).
- Of course, feedback is a two-way process and should always involved giving and receiving, so giving feedback means that the employee has an opportunity to give some feedback.
Why should we give feedback?
- It prevents any nasty surprises at the reviews and makes the review process fairer.
- Help identify development needs. In knowing these needs, your employees are better equipped to work toward fulfilling them themselves.
Types of Feedback
There are two types of feedback
Formative – i.e. Criticism
Motivational – i.e. Praise
Formative Feedback – tells the person what he needs to do better and how.
Purpose – to help the person see how he can do better next time.
e.g. “David, this photocopying that I asked you to do: the pages are not copied properly. You have lost some of the end letters of words at the edge of the pages. If you place the magazine exactly at the edge of the marks on the photocopier and keep the magazine pressed down until the lid touches it, you should be able to avoid this problem. In future perhaps you could check each page before giving it to me?”
Motivational Feedback – tells the person what he did well and recognizes him for it.
Purpose – to encourage and reinforce positive behavior.
e.g. “Nazia, that report was excellent – it was well structured and you obviously put a lot of effort into it and it shows”.
Be careful not to contaminate praise by mixing it with a bit of criticism, e.g. “That was a great presentation, I wish your written work was as good”.
CREATING A NON-THREATENING ATMOSPHERE TO GIVE FEEDBACK
There are a number of ways in which giving feedback can be made less threatening to the employee:
- Be descriptive rather than judgmental.
E.g. “Can you explain how the incident happened?”
“How could you do such a stupid thing?”
- Be supportive rather than authoritarian.
E.g. “How do you think we should go about doing this?”
“Right, this is what we need you to do.”
HOW TO RECEIVE FORMATIVE FEEDBACK
Always try and observe the following when receiving formative feedback about your own performance.
- Listen: Try not to make quick judgments or dismiss what the person is saying. Listen carefully so you understand what is being said. Never say “Yes, but…” – it is a sure sign that you have not been listening.
- Clarify: Check your understanding of the feedback given by summarizing in your own words what you believe the person is saying. Ask for specific examples to help clarify.
- Do not be defensive: It is often tempting to explain why you acted as you did or why something did not go well. Resist the temptation, at least until the person has finished.
- Do not argue: You do not have to agree with what is being said, and eventually you will make your own decision about whether you accept or reject the feedback. But don’t argue. You will only discourage that person from giving you further feedback and giving you a chance to develop.
- Reflect: Once you have received the feedback, spend some time thinking about what has been said.
Do I act on the Formative Feedback ?
Consider the following when deciding on this question:
- Has anyone else said similar things to me before?
- Does the person giving feedback know a lot about the subject?
- Are the person’s standards unreasonable?
- Is the feedback really about me?
- Do I want to do anything about it?
- What will happen if I ignore the feedback?
- How can I use the information effectively?
Base your decision as to whether to accept or reject the feedback on the answers to these questions.
A key purpose of training and development is to develop human potential to assist organizations and individuals to achieve their objectives.
An umbrella concept which includes various ways of developing and growing staff – both enhancing current skills and developing new skills.
A planned process to modify an individual’s attitude, knowledge or skill in order to enhance his/her performance on the job.
Some other examples of development, which are covered in more detail below, are on-the-job training and coaching
Staff development aims to achieve the following:
Develop employees to enhance their level of performance.
Develop a multi-skilled workforce
Ensure that the best use is made of the natural abilities of our employees .
Develop commitment to the Group by using the development process to increase pride in the Group
Once you have agreed the objectives of the role and also the critical competencies, you need to discuss with the individual what support he will need to achieve these. Some of that support may be in resource requirements; it may also be in skill/knowledge development. Job-focused development is that which the individual MUST have to be able to achieve the objectives of his role.
Once all job-focused requirements have been completed there may be an opportunity to include some development for future tasks or responsibilities. These would be listed under the future –focused area.
Such training and development needs would ONLY be included if one of the following conditions were met:
- There is minimal job focused development
- The job holder is experienced in the job
- The job holder is a ‘superior’ performer
- There are changes coming up which will have an impact on the job holder
“ NO ” OF PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL INTERVIEW
- Spending more time on performance appraisal than performance PLANNING, or ongoing performance communication.
- Comparing employees with each other.
- Forgetting appraisal is about improvement, not blame.
- Thinking a rating form is an objective, impartial tool.
- Stopping performance appraisal when a person’s salary is no longer tied to the appraisals.
- Believing they are in position to accurately assess staff.
- Cancelling or postponing appraisal meetings.
- Measuring or appraising the trivial.
- Surprising employees during appraisal.
- Thinking all employees and all jobs should be assessed in exactly the same way using the same procedures.