Organisations need to know how their people are performing.  Are they meeting targets set and reaching the performance standards required?  Most organisations use some form of appraisal process but how many of those processes really work and deliver the information required?

So often the appraisal process is treated as a chore to keep the HR Department happy (or at least off line managers' backs) - a form filling exercise that at best achieves very little and at worst creates animosity between manager and staff that prevails for the rest of the year.  How can it add real value to the organisation and to people's working lives?

The first step is to prepare for the appraisal interview.  Ensure the time is adequate (two hours is about right) and in diaries in plenty of time.  Both appraiser and appraisee need to make time to review the past with as much if not more emphasis on what went well as what went badly.  

Secondly, managers need to use their skills of active listening, using a variety of types of questions - more open and probing than closed.  A listening environment requires uninterrupted space and time without distractions of mobile phones, etc.   The appraisee is more likely to self-appraise and come up with their own solutions to issues if given the opportunity and time to think.  Rather than a mutual rebuking session, an appraisal interview needs to include praise and celebration.  That is not to disregard problems and mistakes - on either side - but rather to keep them in context and hopefully learn from them.

Thirdly, having prepared and reviewed the past, the appraisal interview is the appropriate time to plan for the future.  This is best considered from the twin angles of work plans and personal development plans.  A wide variety of possible learning and development interventions need to be discussed, rather than assume formal training courses are always the answer.  SMART objectives which are Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and with Time-lines are much better than vague aims or targets which may or may not be met.

The best people managers use appraisal interviews not just to assess their team members' performance but also their own performance as team leaders.  Not so much 'how are they doing?' as 'how are we doing (together)?'

Is it time your organisation invested in some appraisal workshops so that appraisal really does deliver for your organisation?  Contact 3D HR if you want more advice or help in facilitating appraisal training workshops.


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