How can Employees help at Performance Appraisal time?
Sometimes Performance Appraisals / Employee Evaluations or Performance Reviews end up as a total waste of time.
Sometimes I think they can actually reduce performance.
How does that happen?
The answer is of course it’s sometimes untrained managers, sometimes unaware human resources teams and sometimes it’s what the employees do that can sabotage the process.
We cover this on our Appraisal Skills Training Workshop and Employee Briefings
Let’s take a look at employees and how we can improve their contribution
1. Don’t focus on filling in the Performance Appraisal Forms
Performance appraisal should not be about the forms .
They are only the vehicle and occasionally the proof, that an appraisal was done.
The purpose of performance appraisal is to allow employees and managers to both continuously improve and to remove barriers (get rocks off the runway) to job success.
Forms are simply a way or recording basic information for later reference.
If the focus is getting the forms “done”, without thought and effort, the whole process becomes a waste of time.
2. Prepare Beforehand
Employees need to be active and constructive participants in the performance appraisal process. Performance appraisals work best when employees understand the process, prepare, and see the benefits of being engaged in it. Preparing for performance appraisal helps the employee focus on the key issue – performance improvement, and to examine their performance in a more objective way Employees when preparing can identify barriers they faced in doing their jobs, relook at their job descriptions, job responsibilities, and review themselves against any job performance expectations or objectives agreed with the manager.
3. Don’t be too Defensive
We tend to take our jobs seriously and personally, making it more difficult to hear others’ comments about our work, even when it is constructive criticism. If employees enter into the discussion with an attitude of “defending their corner”, then it can be difficult to create the dialogue necessary for performance improvement. Employees should present their own opinions and perceptions. However if they do present them do so in a calm, factual manner, rather than a defensive, emotional way.
4. Communicate during the year for no surprises
Employees need to know how they are doing all year round, not just at appraisal time. It is primarily their managers responsibility to ensure that there are no surprises at appraisal time. Many managers discuss both positives and negatives of employee performance throughout the year, however this is unfortunately, not a universal practice. It’s in the employees interests to open up discussion about performance during the year, even if the manager does not initiate it. The sooner employees know where they are, and what they need to change (or keep doing), the sooner problems can be fixed. Many problems can be prevented if they are caught early enough. Even if managers aren’t creating that communication, employees can and should. We believe it’s a shared responsibility.
5. Clarify if you are not sure
If managers were perfect, life would be much easier. Some communicate and explain well. Some don’t. Safe to say that at times employees won’t be clear about their managers’ reasoning or suggestions. That could be because the manager isn’t clear themselves or simply isn’t very good at explaining. However, unless employees clarify when they aren’t sure about the reasoning or explanations, they won’t know what they need to do to improve their future job performance. It’s important to leave the appraisal meeting having a good understanding of what’s been said and even why. If that’s not possible clarification can occur a little later if that’s more appropriate.
6. Don’t allow the performance appraisal to be a one way communication.
Performance appraisals work best when both participants are active, and expressing their positions and ideas. Managers should be creating a climate where employees are comfortable. However some managers may need a little help because they just aren’t good at it. Performance appraisal time is an excellent time for employees to make suggestions about things that could be changed to improve performance. They should also come armed with ideas about how to remove barriers to job success, and ways to increase productivity. Remember that managers can’t read minds. The better managers will work with employees to help them do their jobs more effectively. This is really helped if employees provide them with good, factual information, or, even better, concrete ideas.
7. Don’t view Performance Appraisal time as Pay-Rise discussion time
Unfortunately, many organisations tie employee pay to appraisal results, which can put employee and manager on opposite sides of the table. Employees in such systems tend to focus too much on the money component, although we understand why. It’s also understandable that employees in such systems become hesitant to reveal shortcomings or mistakes. Employees can sometimes take a view that their main purpose is to squeeze as much of an increase out of the company. Managers then tend to take up the opposing view and try to keep increases as small as possible. This makes it totally impossible to focus on what ultimately matters over the long term, which is continuous performance improvement and success for everyone. Pay IS important, but it should not the only issue related to the appraisal focus. If employees enter into the process willing to defend their own positions in factual and fair ways, and to work with managers, the process can become much more pleasant.
Summary: Responsibilities for performance appraisal tone and climate rest with managers, human resources and employees. The key is for employees to participate actively and assertively, but to keep a problem-solving mindset, and keep focused on how things can be improved in the future. It does not really matter who initiates it, performance appraisal are about positive open, honest, job focused communication between employee and manager.