Click to Print

How to Survive Employee Performance Appraisals

They're a necessary evil, so you might as well make them relatively painless.
June 9, 2010

When the words "performance appraisal" are spoken, they almost immediately evoke a strong reaction--sometimes good, sometimes bad--but there's always a reaction.

So just what is a performance appraisal? Simply put, it's the process by which someone in management provides feedback to someone they supervise. This interaction may sometimes result in a change in rank, responsibility and/or salary. Ideally, the appraisal should occur once per quarter, but it happens annually in most companies. In some cases, however, it never happens at all. Whatever it entails, people feel very strongly about whether or not it should even exist.

Why is that?

On the positive side, performance appraisal meetings are an opportunity to:

So far, these issues all sound very positive, and they're subjects that employees should be looking forward to discussing. So why are some managers and some employees reluctant to have a performance appraisal interview?

Thus, there are both positive and negative thoughts that can sway a leader toward or away from the appraisal process. If that is the case, here are some easy and informative guidelines for preparing for and conducting an appraisal interview:

  1. Keep a record throughout the year of what works and what doesn't work with an employee.
  2. Have a written form to guide the review.
  3. Allow both you and the employee to complete that form prior to the interview so that both parties are fully prepared.
  4. Compare your version with the individual's version, allowing the latter to go first in stating the pros and cons of the past year's performance.
  5. Try to stress the positive aspects of the performance.
  6. Don't avoid stating the negatives, but do so in a direct and brief manner.
  7. Balance the good with the bad.
  8. Invite the employee to suggest ways he/she can be motivated.
  9. Ask the individual what additional areas of responsibilities or other tasks he/she would be interested in.
  10. Discuss ways to gain additional knowledge and skills so that promotion becomes possible.
  11. If the discussion becomes emotional, take a break.
  12. Have tissue on your desk--just in case.
  13. End on a positive note.