Last time, we looked at the ways in which an appraisal meeting can be prepared for, both by the employer and employee. Now we examine the conduct of the appraisal itself.
The employer should carry out the appraisal as follows:
• Clarify the time allocated. • Check that the employee has completed his/her preparation and has returned their completed form. • Explain the format and the importance of carrying out regular reviews. • Suggest the employee also makes notes. • Complete the appraisal form together during the meeting, or at the end of the meeting. • Ask the employee to give their assessment first. • Add feedback as relevant. Opinions expressed in the appraisal and recorded must be supported by evidence. • Be as specific as possible with feedback and share observations which will help the employee to develop in their role and/or learn new skills. • Focus the discussion both on what has gone well and what could have gone better. Ask open questions such as “What did you learn from that?” “What would you do differently next time?” • If the appraisal process requires this, agree an overall performance rating for the period. Some employers have a scoring system; others avoid this approach. There can be an issue with an employee not concentrating on what is being said as they are trying to work out their “score”.
Plan future objectives
• Look to the future and agree new targets and objectives. • Objectives may be short or long term and should be kept to a reasonable and manageable number. • Manager and employee must clearly understand what is to be achieved, how it is to be achieved and how achievement is to be measured. • Explain to the employee how their objectives link with business objectives so that the employee understands the importance of his/her contribution.
Agree areas for future development
• Identify how these needs will be met and agree and record this in the employee’s development plan. Learning and development needs should be expressed as competency requirements – what the employee should be able to do. • Explore the employee’s career development plans (if any) and what training and development is required. • Discuss the manager’s contribution to the above. • Discuss future business plans and how they may affect the employee’s aspirations.
• be written; • be agreed; • have target dates (e.g. “by 31st December”, not “as soon as possible”); • be reviewed regularly – having to be accountable is critical to achieving objectives; • have a clear outcome in mind; • have a way of measuring progress; • identify a support system – this will usually be the manager but may be a mentor or a colleague with expertise in a specific area.
Identifying competencies and skills for development (individual development plan)
The manager and employee should decide which competencies should be developed over the coming year and these should be linked to objectives. Competencies for the role should be highlighted in the Person Specification. They should be at an appropriate level for the employee’s current post and development needs. If the prior year’s competencies have not been met (or not met to an acceptable standard) these may be brought forward and/or new competencies agreed.
Giving Feedback to the employee
A central part of the appraisal is giving and receiving feedback. Feedback given should be clear, honest, helpful and constructive. It should be based on:
• Behaviour rather than personality. • Observation rather than inferences. • Description and not judgement. • Specifics rather than generalisations. • Facts and not unsupported opinions. • Suggestions for improvement which are capable of achievement.
Close the meeting
• Summarise, agree actions and the date of the next appraisal. • Record any relevant issues in the “Additional Comments” section which do not fit easily into the previous sections. Factors affecting performance should also be entered into this section e.g. employee absence, absences in the team, changes in priorities, any relevant personal circumstances. • Thank the employee for their contributions. • Complete the appraisal form and ensure it is signed off by both parties. • Close the meeting.
• Let the employee have a copy of the final completed form. • Whatever is written shouldn’t be a surprise to the employee. • The process is not about completing the form. It’s about continually developing and improving the performance of employees. • Ensure that what is agreed is actioned.