The Dreaded Appraisal

Published: 31st March 2011
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It is common for businesses to carry out their annual performance appraisal process around this time of year. However, all too often the process feels like a burden and a waste of time. Managers dislike the time it takes to meet individually with each of their employers and to write up appraisal reports. Employees dislike having to talk about themselves and find the whole situation awkward and sometimes intimidating.

The CIPD believe that done well an appraisal process can significantly enhance relationships between individuals and line managers, and provide an effective vehicle for objective setting and review. Appraisals at their best can enhance good performance, improve average or low performance levels, motivate staff, and align employee objectives with those of the business.

So where is it going wrong?

Too much importance is attached to the formal review meeting, especially when it is an annual event. Any performance appraisal should be part of a much bigger, regular cycle of ongoing two-way feedback. Managers have a responsibility to give regular feedback to their staff and this is most easily done if the manager collects and notes data about work performance every week and has a short one to one meeting with his staff every six to eight weeks. This ensures that matters are reviewed in a timely way and objectives can be monitored or updated as appropriate.

The appraisal process should not simply provide a one-off annual opportunity for doing this. Giving effective feedback is challenging and for most people it is a skill that needs to be learnt. The consequences associated with not giving feedback in an effective way or giving no feedback at all can be costly. For example, feedback given poorly can damage the employee-manager relationship and create uncomfortable tension in the office.

Quality of feedback is certainly one area of the appraisal process which is vital to the success of an appraisal process. Positive feedback which is given in an ineffective way can be patronising to the receiver- "Havenít you done a good job today?" Ineffective feedback given to address a shortcoming does not encourage cooperation or improvement- "Youíre just no good at your job". Feedback must be constructive and based on facts- "You did x, the impact was y, and this is what I expect going forward..."

To avoid time wasting appraisals, train your managers so that they are equipped with the skills needed to do it well. This is one way of making your appraisal process more valuable to your business and considerably less dreaded by managers and employees.

We are currently offering a discount on in-house performance appraisal training booked in April 2011. Visit our website for more information.

The HR Headmistressí Guide to workplace investigations (How to Get Top Marks in Ö Tackling Workplace Investigations) publication date is on 31st March 2011. For more information

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in the practical application of employment law as well as providing employment law training and HR support services. For more information, visit our website at or call a member of the team on 0845 644 8955.

Russell HR Consulting offers HR services to businesses nationwide, including Buckinghamshire (covering Aylesbury, High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Banbury, Northampton, Towcester and surrounding areas), Nottinghamshire (covering Chesterfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, Sheffield, Worksop and surrounding areas) and Hampshire (covering Aldershot, Basingstoke, Reading, Farnborough, Fareham, Portsmouth, Southampton and surrounding areas).

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