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Effective Appraisals Start with Open Questions

Keeping things simple and engagingBusiness managers often question the value of appraisals. It is easy to overlook the benefits and just see the cost in time and disruption from preparing and delivering appraisals. However effective appraisals add lots of value to any business provided the appraisal program is simple, easy to use and creates an opportunity for manager and employee to talk about performance.

Key to a successful program is that it engages both the employee and the manager in a conversation about performance. Keeping things simple and engaging start with asking the right questions through the appraisal process. What questions are most effective?

Simple appraisal programs work. Here are some of the basic ways to make your appraisals effective:

An employee appraisal or personal development review (PDR) is an opportunity for employee and manager to reflect on how the employee is performing within the organization and to identify ways to increase performance and satisfaction. The process should be collaborative involving both the employee and managers perspectives. The objective is learning and reflection that lead to positive action that increase performance and satisfaction.

The Questions to Ask:

Only by asking questions will the manager and employee be able to explore current performance and potential future performance. Starting with the question: “how are things” a process that is open before drilling down into specifics is more effective.

Before you Start the Appraisal:

Not all organisations are ready to deliver appraisals. Preparation for the process must include clarification of expectation to employees and time need to be given for employees and mangers to work together so performance feedback can be based on first hand observation. Typically the preparation for effective performance feedback includes:

Job description:

Have a simple 1 page job description to provide day to day focus. Headings to include: Company Aims and for the employee: Job purpose, Specific Objectives, Responsibilities and key tasks. Agreeing and maintaining a job description for each employee will help focus and results.

Manager Preparation:

  1.  Tell the employee when and where the appraisal will take place and that the form has been shared together with a copy of the latest job description.
  2. Review the job description and use the form to make notes about the points you want to share. Be honest and constructive balancing strong points and development opportunities.
  3. Consider and describe the most important changes you would like to see.

Employee Preparation:

  1. Review your job description and use the appraisal form to make notes about the key points you want to share. Be honest and constructive. Maintain a balance between achievements and development opportunities.
  2. Consider and describe the most important change you would like to see as a result of the process.

Holding the Appraisal:

  1. Hold the appraisal in a quiet place with no interruptions – and in private
  2. Manager explains, Employee asks clarifying questions, then both discuss and agree
  3. Work through one section at the time, capture what is agreed in each section
  4. Make sure that key development actions are captured including a date for the next follow up review

Using a Structured Process and Simple Form:

By using a simple appraisal form (click below for an example) will facilitate an effective process. This together with training of managers in appraisal delivery is the best investment a company can make towards employee performance development.

Key Learning Points for Delivering Effective Appraisals:

  • Keep the process simple and question based
  • Open questions works better to create a conversation
  • Make sure performance expectations are in place in the form of a job description
  • Use a simple form to make records. make sure that development actions are agreed and recorded
  • Invest in training of managers to deliver effective employee development

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About Alison Driver

Alison Driver
Alison Driver is a professionally qualified HR specialist with over 25 years experience who works with businesses to help solve people related issues.Read more about Alison >>