Don’t: Surprise the Employee.
The employee should not be surprised by anything that is said during the appraisal. During ongoing coaching activities you should have already discussed any specific performance issues and needs in advance of the formal appraisal.
Don’t: Treat the review as an unimportant task you have to make time for.
Don’t roll your eyes, and sigh that it is “that time again.” The performance appraisal is an important step in aiding your employees’ development.
Don’t: Focus on the employee’s personality characteristics.
Focus on what the employee does, or could do. Don’t focus on the “trait” issues that a person fundamentally cannot change, but rather focus on specific behaviors that will achieve better results. Document behaviors only, not opinions, feelings, guesses, intuition, or interpretation.
Don’t: Focus only on first impressions or self – comparisons.
First impressions are often sweeping generalizations based on our first encounters that are retained in spite of impressions of contrary evidence. Also be aware of the “halo effect” – – where the rating on one item influences all other ratings. This usually takes place when an employee is like us on one task and we carry this approval over to others. Avoid being influenced by manners and personalities we find pleasing or flattering to ourselves or judging someone harshly who does not do the job the way we did, or would do it. Instead, focus on the behaviors and outcomes of the employee’s performance.
Don’t: Play the role of a therapist.
Offer support if the employee’s personal problems are affecting job performance, but avoid getting involved. If necessary, refer the employee to outside help (i.e. the Employee Assistance Program). It may also be applicable to direct the employee to discuss the issue with his/her Regional HR Director if benefits such as Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Short Term Disability (STD), or Long Term Disability (LTD) may apply.
Don’t: Rely only on your memory.
Avoid primacy (the tendency to base evaluations only on performance that occurs early in the appraisal cycle) and recency (the tendency to base evaluations only on the performance that occurs late in the appraisal cycle). Write things down shortly after they happen and base your notes directly on observed behaviors, not rumors.
Don’t: Generalize your ratings.
Avoid leniency, rating everyone high because you feel uncomfortable about communicating negative information, and middle ratings, choosing mostly middle ratings for everyone because of a tendency to avoid extremes. This closes the door on employee growth.
It’s unlikely that every employee in your department is above average. Focus on the specific behaviors of each employee. Be realistic and rate accordingly.
Don’t: Be vague in your appraisal.
It will be easier to set goals and create a development plan if the employee has specific details to utilize. Be clear, specific, and focused on the issues. The language you select makes a difference. Provide specific examples in nonjudgmental language.
Don’t: Expect one major change right away.
Details add power to your message, and small changes can make a great impact. Talk with the employee about small things they can change/improve/build on to make a solid impact.
Don’t: Discuss pay increases during the appraisal process.
Avoid telling an employee a specific amount during the process. If the requested increase is not forthcoming, the employee may develop a poor attitude toward the company. Only discuss a pay change after approval from those necessary and once you’ve completed the performance discussion.
Don’t: Wait for the next appraisal to follow up.
Use informal progress reports or mini-reviews to identify potential performance problems or to recognize an employee’s improvements and successes.
Do: Prepare for the performance appraisal before the meeting begins.
Know what the employee has or has not done. Be sure that performance issues are not just “in your head,” but that you have documentation (i.e. logs, reports, examples of work). Be objective. Be consistent. Be honest.
Do: Keep a performance journal.
If you have been communicating well and documenting performance issues as they arise, writing the appraisal and conducting the appraisal conversation become easier – and are more effective as tools in achieving improved performance.
Be sure you’ve kept track of both positive and negative performance examples
during the normal course of work. Use your notes to prepare for the session, and be sure to cover the entire time period under review – not just the first and last weeks of the review cycle.
Do: Use third party feedback.
Consider seeking reliable, objective performance data from another person. Utilize this with discretion – make sure the third party feedback you are seeking is job related.
Do: Use the employee’s self appraisal.
Get a well-rounded picture of all performance issues and make sure you understand what the employee thinks about his/her work and the work environment.
Do: Remain positive and professional.
This is an important time for the employee and the employee is important to you. Maintain the employee’s self-esteem by treating the review as an important event – because it is!
Do: Choose the appropriate environment and time.
Understand your employees, their schedules, and their comfort levels. Don’t schedule an appraisal meeting on Monday morning if you know that employee has an important deadline. If you are expecting several phone calls in the afternoon, don’t schedule the appraisal at a time when you may be distracted. Focus completely on the employee and his/her appraisal throughout the appraisal meeting. Make your employees the top priority during their appraisal meetings and make it easy for them to do the same.
Do: Start the discussion off right.
How you open the discussion is important for setting the tone and direction for the discussion to take. It is helpful to begin by stating the purpose of the meeting and the benefits it can provide to the employee. It is also helpful to provide a brief outline of what you will be covering. Explain the general areas for discussion. It is beneficial for the employee to understand where you will start and know the course of the meeting.
Do: Be descriptive rather than judgmental.
Judgmental statements often trigger defense mechanisms. Descriptive statements provide raw material for problem solving. Use specific examples of the employee’s performance and why the performance was good or where improvements could be made.
Do: Listen and ask questions.
The employee should voice his/her concerns and suggestions during the appraisal meeting. Employees often provide valuable feedback about their own abilities and job performance. Be sure to do a lot of probing of the employee’s thoughts and feelings to ensure a well rounded appraisal. Listen to the words and feelings expressed so that any difference of opinion can be discussed.
Do: Be sensitive to the employee’s reactions.
Talking about performance is highly personal. Understand that the process may be difficult and stressful for the employee. Be ready for a variety of emotional reactions and handle them with patience and courtesy.
Do: Be open to suggestions from the employee.
There may be things that you can change to help the employee become more successful (i.e. communicate more often or more specifically). You are expecting your employees to change and improve, demonstrate that you are also willing to change.
Do: Create an action plan.
Focus on the areas that have been discussed throughout the appraisal which are most significant to the job. Set clear, observable, and measurable objectives and plan for the outcomes. Follow up with periodic progress checks.
Do: Close the appraisal meeting appropriately.
Review the action plan. State what you’ll do and when. Ask the employee to do the same. Document all the areas you have discussed. Make sure your appraisal form accurately reflects what was discussed during the meeting. You and the employee will need to electronically sign off on the appraisal through eAppraisal. Lastly, thank the employee.