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Conducting Effective Staff Appraisals

Conducting Effective Staff Appraisals

An effective staff appraisal isn’t simply a matter of going through the motions, which often consists of holding annual meetings with staff where both sides feel awkward about the process.

Instead an appraisal should be a valuable and objective opportunity for managers and their staff to come together to reflect on an individual’s achievements in the last six or twelve months against a set of predetermined goals. It is also a prime opportunity to discuss and agree future expectations for the business and the role of the employee.

Prior to the appraisal taking place it is often beneficial for the employee to complete an appraisal questionnaire. The questionnaire should be completed and returned to the manager before the meeting allowing its content to be fully considered. The questions should seek to elicit answers in two key areas:

  • The individual’s assessment and observations about themselves and their role in the company.
  • The individual’s assessment and observations about the business, its management and ideas for improvement.

It is essential that the questionnaire is prepared using both open and closed questions. It is also very helpful to use a weighted scale. For example, numerically from one to eight with five being an average score. Beneath this scale should be the statement ‘If you scored six or below please provide details’.

A score of less than six should arouse a managers concern. Whether it is the individual finding it difficult to work in the team or receiving a lack of positive feedback from their manager / supervisor, the appraisal creates an opportunity to get to the root of the problem, allowing measures to be put in place to resolve the problem and move forward in a constructive way.

It is important that staff are re-assured that answering the questions honestly will in no way compromise them. Creating a positive team in an environment for delivering results is not based on luck but judgment. It requires that managers and staff work hand in hand and that there exists mutual understanding and respect. The appraisal itself should be seen by both parties as a positive event, even one to look forward to rather than be feared. The staff appraisal is a time when both the employer and the employee can speak honestly, openly and frankly with the aim of improving business results and individual performance.

At the end of the appraisal, the employee should feel that their contribution over a given period has been duly appraised, and when there is a difference of opinion, that views have been listened to with disagreements being noted. Furthermore, goals, targets and training needs should be established and agreed by both parties for the period ahead.

If it is true that employing an appraisal strategy is fundamental to businesses of all shapes and sizes, then it has to be the case that managers possess or acquire the necessary skills to perform that function. This means verbal, listening, questioning and constructive criticisms are imperative.

Establishing a dynamic, loyal and productive team that contributes measurable growth year on year with low attrition rates has to be the overall objective of staff appraisals. Successful businesses that are genuinely committed to their staff inevitably spark the law of reciprocity and the cycle continues.