“How am I doing?” For most employees, this is the perennial question that affects just about everything — from morale to performance to day-to-day attitude. We’ve already written about how important it is to give performance feedback on an ongoing basis. But that doesn’t make the annual or biannual performance review less important to conduct correctly.
A formal performance appraisal is one of the most concrete ways for employees to get a sense of where they are in the eyes of management and their colleagues, and how they might improve. A good employee performance review consists of both oral and written feedback that provides clear ways for employees to improve performance or adjust behavior, as well as recognizes the employee for a job well done.
But why are performance appraisals so widely hated and feared by management and employees alike? The bad reputation stems from the poor use of performance evaluations in some organization, ie. only occurring when management is building a case for employee termination. This negative approach to performance management is no way to manage and motivate employees.
An employee performance review should instead be a fruitful exercise for both employee and manager, stimulating personal growth and development for both parties.
Goals of Performance Appraisal
To ensure that your performance appraisal is hitting its mark, keep in mind the following goals for an effective review process:
To improve productivity across an organization
Feedback — both positive and negative — can make your employees more productive.
A recent Gallup poll found that teams with managers who received strengths feedback showed 12.5% greater productivity than teams with managers who received no feedback. And according to a survey by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the Harvard Business Review, 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”
*Side note: We covered some tips for giving positive feedback in this blog. For delivering negative feedback, we recommend keeping it specific, private, timely, and focused on the behavior or action, and never the person. Managers should make sure to stay calm, reaffirm their faith in their employee’s abilities, and establish a time for a follow-up.
To make informed decisions
Documenting job performance in a consistent fashion gives managers the necessary insight to make judicious decisions on salary increases, promotions, job changes, and termination. By providing transparent justifications to both employees and human resources, managers can clearly demonstrate the reasoning behind their recommendations and make all stakeholders at ease with the final decision.
To identify goals and responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities can change — intentionally or otherwise — throughout an employee lifecycle. Sometimes, an organization realizes that the role they listed on the job description isn’t necessarily the role best suited to the employee, or that the role needs to adapt to a changing focus in the organization.
To measure performance against these goals
The most obvious reason to review employee performance is to measure individual contributions to a team and the organization as a whole. By sitting down with an employee on a regular basis and checking in on their progress towards reaching pre-determined goals, you cultivate personal accountability and instill confidence that their contributions are being recognized.
To provide a concrete plan for improvement
By identifying specific areas for an employee to focus on, and mapping out a concrete plan to guide their next steps, you can ensure that the employee feels supported in their efforts. Be sure to determine several actionables that an employee can execute in the coming weeks and months, and arrange for regular check-ins to monitor progress, give feedback, and clear roadblocks along the way…