Employee appraisals are a key part of reviewing employee performance and are a crucial element in staff development.

How often

Appraisals should take place every six or twelve months, but in the meantime regular, informational discussions should take place between line manager and the member of staff, so both parties can discuss any issues, concerns or successes. The appraisal should only be used as a formal review to reflect on the previous six months or year and to plan ahead.

Preparation on both sides

In the lead up to the appraisal meeting, both staff and management should be involved in the preparation. The manager will need to look over previous objectives that have been set, while the employee should be considering what points they wish to discuss.

For the business to be successful, the objectives set for each employee should align with the objectives of the team and importantly, tie in with the wider organisation.

To get the most out of employee appraisals, managers need to be prepared. They should have a list of previously agreed objectives and notes that have been taken throughout the year that they can refer to.

Stay positive

It is important to start the meeting positively and reference any specific achievements and successes that the employee has been involved with. Appraisals should be kept positive, even if there are negative issues to discuss.

Managers must be ready to listen and to let the employees talk and feel that they can raise anything they feel they need to, while feeling that they are being listened to.

Encourage self-appraisal

Encourage staff to analyse their performance with you and examine why things went badly or went well, and how this could be tackled to ensure future success. Inviting staff to self-appraise is a constructive way of seeing things from their perspective and how they think they are performing.

Appraisals should be used as an opportunity to agree measurable objectives for the employee and a plan of action put in place to support them in achieving these set goals.

What’s your best asset?

Your staff are your best asset and appraisals should always be taken seriously and be a good experience for everybody involved. Staff should come away from their appraisal feeling positive and motivated for the year ahead.

Reasons for poor performance

Do not wait for the next appraisal meeting to tackle the issue. It must be dealt with immediately. You need to find out why the person is under-performing. Speak to them directly and ask them if there is a reason behind it.

Reasons could be:

  • a personal issue, such as a domestic or health problem
  • A lack of knowledge and skills
  • there is an issue with the working environment

The poor performance may not be because the person can’t do the job, but in actual fact it could be because they refuse to do the work to the standard required. If this is the case then it is likely that you will need to move to disciplinary action.

Dealing with poor performance

  • Make sure the employee understands what the problem is with their work and performance, giving them specific examples.
  • Give the employee an opportunity to explain and make sure you listen to any feedback they give you.
  • Offer whatever support is suitable to meet their needs – this could be further training or better supervision.
  • Keep detailed notes of all conversations, the employee’s progress and the goals you have both agreed on.

If after reviewing the situation, you have been able to rule out a personal problem and there isn’t a concern about a lack of skills and training, or the working environment, then you need to look at their attitude and behaviour. If it is concluded that the employee’s behaviour is the main factor in their poor performance, then you may need to consider other options, including more formal disciplinary procedures.

In most cases an employee’s potential can be reached through motivating them and providing them with challenging and interesting work.  In addition, addressing any concerns early with the member of staff can also cause them to reflect and adjust their performance or behaviour accordingly.

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