Successful staff appraisals

Looking ahead at 2019, it’s time to consider the right and wrong ways to conduct successful appraisals with your staff

While we always talk to dealers in our interviews about how their teams operate and conduct customer service, we don’t often take the time to discuss the positivity and efficiency that can be created through regular staff appraisals.

When was the last time you sat down with your workers, one-on-one, to discuss their performance? Is this something you do every six months? Once a year? Is it regular, or just as-and-when you deem it necessary? This is the time – as 2019 stretches out before us as a fresh slate – to consider appraisals more seriously.

The fact is that staff appraisals keep workers focused and aware of what is expected of them; this, in turn, encourages better efficiency and improved mental well-being – something that is becoming increasingly important. For the employer, it also ensures that staff feel able to approach their boss and that said boss is more aware of, and in touch with, what their workers are doing day-to-day; this connection is important for all parties.

As a brightHR article – What are the best ways to conduct employee appraisals? – so eloquently states, ‘Appraisals are about both past performance, and the future.’ This means they are an opportunity to discuss the employee’s full journey – what they came to the company to do, how that job has evolved, how well they have adapted and what the future holds for them. It’s also the time to ask the employee how they feel about their role, whether they are content with the trajectory it has taken and what they expect from their employer – in terms of support or remuneration – going forward.

Let’s explore how to get ready for, and conduct, an effective appraisal.

Prepare

Preparation will show employees that their boss cares about them and is invested in them, both as a worker and a person. Begin by gathering data on the employee and their performance – this may include records from previous appraisals, any HR issues raised by their colleagues and feedback from their immediate manager and/or co-workers. This data can help set the right topics for discussion, ready for the appraisal, as well as forming future goals. Referring to records from previous meetings also allows an employer to gauge where specific improvements (or lack, thereof) have been made since then.

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It’s a good idea to get really organised by creating a template for these meetings, with spaces to jot notes. This encourages consistency and will make it easier to refer back to this meeting in future.

Topics

Preparing exactly what to discuss with each employee is the key to ensuring all bases are covered. The person conducting the appraisal, often their immediate line manager, should discuss:

  • The employee’s performance, both since the start of their current role and since their last appraisal – not just in terms of the delivery of their work, but attitude and things like whether they arrive consistently on time or not, whether they meet deadlines and how regularly they take sick days. At the same time, allow the employee to self-appraise.
  • Exploration of where improvements can be made – and how to implement them.
  • A discussion of any grievances the employee may have, and how these can be tackled. It’s also a great idea to talk about any ideas they might have for developing or diversifying their own role or the company at large.
  • Agree on some goals for the future – both short and long-term.

Atmosphere and delivery

Arguably the most important element of an employee appraisal is ensuring it’s undertaken in the correct atmosphere. Firstly, there should be no surprises; the smallbusiness.co.uk blog, How to conduct staff appraisals and keep them motivated, advises, ‘…if an employee tells a manager that the six months since the last review have gone really badly, it should not be the first they’ve heard of it.’

This advice cuts both ways, as the blog goes on to explain. ‘This is because staff appraisals must not exist in isolation, but should be part of an ongoing process in which both management and staff have a responsibility.’ Open communication is a must both during appraisals and between them, and successful meetings are best conducted in an information environment which encourages employees and their bosses alike to speak honestly, without worry.

Employers should focus on asking open-ended, and open-minded, questions and give constructive feedback in order to get the best out of their staff appraisals. As the smallbusiness.co.uk blog concludes, ‘Employees should go away from the appraisal meeting feeling good about themselves and involved in their own development.’

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