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Performance Appraisal Interview

When applied properly, a performance appraisal interview can serve as an effective tool for enhancing talent and performance management strategies. Unfortunately, the performance review approaches most employers use nowadays leaves room for improvement. The statistics only prove it:

  • Only 44% agree that managers at their companies are effective at assessing the performance of their immediate subordinates;
  • Only 14% of employers report having altered their performance management approach to align with remote and hybrid working models;
  • However, 2 in 3 organisations report their employees don’t feel their performance is evaluated fairly.

There are also some positive trends: 20% of employers have improved employees’ understanding of how their performance is evaluated, and 23% have improved the employee and manager experience during the appraisal. It’s not breathtaking results; however, it’s better than nothing. We’re here to make our own contribution to improving the situation. In our article, we unpack the appraisal interview process and also provide feasible tips on how to make the process as stress-free and effective as possible.

What Is an Appraisal Interview?

The term’ performance appraisal interview’ implies a review of employees’ performance, skills, achievements and, as a result, their contribution to the company’s development and progress. The frequency of conducting performance appraisals varies from organisation to organisation, but they usually take place annually, semiannually, or every quarter.

Purpose of the Appraisal

Performance reviews are supposed to facilitate fulfilling two important tasks:

  1. Making administrative decisions. By accessing an employee’s contributions and achievements over the estimated period, a manager can make well-founded decisions regarding pay increases, bonuses, promotions, and redundancies;
  2. Fostering the employee development process. An appraisal interview is a great occasion to trace discrepancies and spark a dialogue about the skills or knowledge an employee may be lacking. Based on it, the manager and the HR team can develop a personal improvement or upskilling plan for them.

Tip for managers: Consider making employee appraisals more frequent. Performance conversations keep the employer and their employees on the same page, give a chance to build more trustworthy relationships, and overall, make the process less stressful.

Types of Employee Performance Appraisals

Performance appraisal systems include various types, for instance:

  • Self-assessment: An employee fills out an appraisal form rating their own performance;
  • Peer assessment: An employee’s team or colleagues rate their performance;
  • 360-degree feedback assessment: Feedback from an employee, their supervisor, team, or even clients;
  • Negotiated appraisal: In case of conflicts between subordinates and supervisors, gives the subject a chance to present the matter first;
  • Behaviour-based appraisals: One of the fairest approaches, as it focuses on the employee’s ability to carry out specific tasks.

Preparing for Success: Employee

The performance appraisal process won’t make you get jitters if you properly prepare for it. There are three stages of self-analysis that employees may consider doing. They will help them release tension and mitigate the surprise effect of the feedback they may encounter.

Gather Feedback

The more often you get feedback, the easier you take it eventually. You may set up a routine for yourself where you regularly gather feedback. You may ask your most reliable colleagues to share their thoughts on your job performance and then gradually expand the circle of interviewees. Opinions of people surrounding you will help you shape a more objective opinion about your contribution and maybe discover weaknesses you didn’t recognise before. As a bonus of regular feedback gathering, you stop taking it personally and develop immunity to unreasonable comments.

Goal Review

It’s great if you have a ritual setting personal goals with your manager; if not, we recommend doing it on your own. You may quickly check what set of skills should a specialist of your level have and what skills they need to reach the next one. Start working on achieving those goals. Do it not for the sake of being recognised by your current boss but for the sake of your self-development and the future perspectives that will come along with it. Furthermore, it will be easier to trace your progress when reviewing your list of goals at the end of a certain period and comparing your past performance results with the current one.

Self-Assessment

It can be challenging to come up with a decent answer to the question, ‘How do you evaluate your own performance?’. One can simply get confused even if they have good performance indicators. For this reason, analyse your strengths and weaknesses in advance, as it will help you avoid awkward silence or murmuring during the conversation with your boss. Moreover, you can outrun your boss and mention your weak spots before them. This will signify your professional approach to work and your role in the company.

Preparing for Success: Employer

If the idea of conducting a performance review looks like your own idea of hell, you, as an employer, should consider improving your mastery of it. By embracing the fact that regular feedback and performance appraisals can significantly boost your teams’ productivity and efficiency indicators, you can turn this procedure into a pleasant experience for both yourself and your employees. Here are some ideas on how to handle the appraisal process professionally.

Opening Remarks

Whatever the reason for the occasion is, you, as a supervisor, should start the meeting with a greeting. Watch your facial expressions too: body language does say a lot. Smile to your interlocutor, greet them, offer to take a seat, and mention that you appreciate their presence. To engage them, inquire if they feel good and ready to start a productive conversation.

Having done this slight warm-up, proceed to the main topic. It’s essential to explain the purpose of the meeting, even though everybody is aware of it. Also, talk through the job description focusing on the objectives and core duties to check if you’re on the same page with the appraisee about their responsibilities.

Strengths and Achievements

According to the CIPD research, strengths-based performance conversations during appraisal meetings positively impact the usefulness and effectiveness of such meetings. Employees can apply their strengths and replicate success in other aspects of their work by focusing on what is already working well. It doesn’t mean a manager should turn a blind eye to underperformance; shift the focus from ‘what hasn’t been done’ to ‘what has been done well and how it can help with weaker/problematic areas’.

Kluger and Nir, Human Resource Management pros, described in their research how strengths-based performance conversations can be used in practice:

  • Step 1: ‘Eliciting a success story’. An employee is asked to focus on what’s been working well personally for them, providing specific examples and details.
  • Step 2: ‘Discovering your personal success code’. The employee is asked to reflect upon the contributors to their success, both internal and external.
  • Step 3: ‘The feedforward question’. Employees are asked to think about how they could use those contributors when dealing with current tasks and share what results they expect to attain in the end.

Areas for Improvement

Even if an employee meets all the position standards and fulfils expectations, there is always room for growth. However, the manager has to have well-developed people skills to do it the way that they motivate employees to improve instead of making them feel frustrated or even embarrassed.

What can work well:

  • Asking questions to lead the employee to the idea of improvement instead of rubbing their nose in their mistakes;
  • Giving constructive feedback that will be based on evidence and actual examples, not subjective opinion, and showing how their improvement could influence the company;
  • Using realistic examples to explain how the employees could benefit themselves from this improvement.

Developmental Goals

After carefully considering the employee’s weak spots and the benefits they can receive due to personal development, it’s time to develop an action plan. Firstly, define specific objectives the employee is supposed to fulfil during the next estimated period. Second, think about the means of achieving those goals. Based on that, you can create a more specific improvement plan, including a training course, getting a mentor and their practical support, or attending workshops.

It’s vital to convey the significance of having this list of goals always in sight. Not only will it serve as a reminder to contribute to their self-development, but it will also prepare them psychologically for their next appraisal meeting.

Feedback Exchange

Professional feedback has to be based on factual data, not subjective observations. The options include:

  • Task performance: assessing the core activities included in a job;
  • Contextual performance: assessing activities that go beyond one’s job responsibilities;
  • Adaptive performance: assessing the ability to respond to unexpected changes and stressful situations or initiate innovation.

Only by using actual performance metrics is it possible to create constructive feedback. If the appraisal process includes 360-degree feedback, ensuring its fairness is also important. Here are some ideas on how to do it:

  • Communicate the aims and objectives of the feedback to all the interviewees to encourage honesty;
  • Maintain confidentiality;
  • Offer employees practical assistance in providing feedback.

Last but not least, remember: it’s not the feedback itself but the employee’s reaction that shapes their future performance. Allow employees to share their feedback on the issue without fearing being judged. Try to make the procedure as fair and valuable as possible and allow the employee to participate in the process, confirming their worth and significance in the team.

Closing Part

At the end of the appraisal procedure, it’s good to mention the key takeaways and outline the improvement action plan one more time. Then, express appreciation for the employee’s participation and reinforce the commitment to achieving the goals you’ve set together in the meeting.

Explain that some records should be done as well: the agreement for the discussed action plan where the appraiser and the appraisee will put their signatures and the appraisal report. Let them know they are welcome to ask for clarification if any disagreements arise.

  1. Wtwco.com
  2. CIPD research
  3. Kluger and Nir research paper
Performance Appraisal Interview
Date: 16 October 2023
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