This article provides a useful framework for conducting an employee appraisal. We hope you find it helpful in shaping yours.

Why a Positive Employee Appraisal Experience is So Important

Before getting to our employee performance review tips, let’s consider the merits of a positive appraisal experience. If conducted in the right way, it can engage, motivate and retain your employee. It also provides them with recognition for work well done, identifies improvement areas, helps them set goals for the future and offers the chance to air any concerns.

For you as a manager, it is a chance to see a real-time snapshot of how well your team is functioning and areas for improvement – whether that is processes, practices, team relationships or extra training.

While traditionally performance reviews occur annually, many modern managers are realising the virtue of conducting them half-yearly or quarterly. With meetings shorter in nature, this frequency allows you to provide employees with real-time feedback to help them reach their targets or goals. It may also mean you catch an issue and nip it in the bud before it has the chance to cultivate into a much bigger problem.

To be most effective, consider separating an employee appraisal from their pay review discussion. By lumping them together, an employee quite naturally equates performance with pay. The conversation then turns into a justification of why they should get a pay rise, rather than a self-reflection and assessment process that helps them grow professionally.

In the same vein, the employee may not feel as open to providing feedback, limiting your ability to recognise areas for improvement to help the business progress as a whole.

Employee Appraisal Prep Work

Devoting time to preparing for your employee performance reviews is a must. We recommend setting aside some time a week or two prior to the review to go over the employee’s performance and specific areas you’d like to discuss during the session.

It’s also a good idea to provide your team member with a self-assessment form before the meeting. This form can be a series of open-ended questions covering what they see as being their key achievements, areas for improvement and the chance to provide feedback on the team and company culture. Aim to give it to them at least a week to 10 days to complete the form and return it to you.

Employee Appraisal Steps

You are now well primed with the information you need to conduct a positive employee performance review. Here is a suggested framework for the discussion:

1. Be present

It’s natural for your employee to feel nervous about their appraisal, so it’s a courtesy not to keep them waiting. Allow adequate time for the discussion (one to one and a half hours), turn off all electronic notifications and your phone and be sure to let other staff know to hold all interruptions.

2. Set the scene

Warmly welcome your staff member, letting them know the discussion is a two-way street – you’re just as open to receiving honest feedback as you are to providing it. Briefly cover the agenda, advising you’ll first focus on their performance and achievements, then moving on to the next quarter or six months and ending with any issues they want to raise.

Also let them know you’ll be taking notes throughout the discussion to accurately capture action points, their suggestions and any plans you make together. Let them know they’ll have a chance to review and sign off on them.

3. Speak about their performance over the past quarter/six months

You could begin by quickly going over what you discussed at the last review and the goals that were set. Next, move on to what they feel they’ve achieved and which goals they’re still working towards.

Provide your feedback too and try to be specific with direct examples. For instance, rather than saying ‘You’ve been a great leader’, you could say ‘I’ve been really impressed with not only your team’s overall metrics, but also how you’ve mentored those that are struggling to hit their individual targets’.

After leading with the positives, you can more comfortably turn to addressing the areas for improvement. Try to use an encouraging tone by offering suggestions to help, as well as asking if they have additional ideas.

4. Look ahead to the next quarter/six months

This is a chance to move the conversation back into a positive direction by focusing on setting future targets or goals. Discuss what support the employee may need to get there – whether that’s support from management, a form of training or even a lateral job move.

If you’ve taken the option of a quarterly or six monthly review, brainstorm some short-term goals they can aim to hit before the next appraisal.

5. Identify obstacles and issues

Hopefully your employee felt at ease enough to be honest in their self-assessment regarding the things they don’t enjoy about their job – whether that’s the duties themselves, issues with colleagues or company culture. If not, encourage them to do so now, reiterating that the aim is to try to address the things they’re unhappy about to provide them with a better work experience.

Depending on the issue/s raised, this part of the discussion has the potential to be confrontational. If it’s to do with other team members, management or the company as a whole, it will require a little diplomacy. Ask for specific examples, rather than general statements. Listen carefully to their responses and attempt to determine the core problem. Again, seek their input about ideas to remedy the situation.

Let them know you might need some time to digest what they’ve told you and come up with an action plan (unless of course it’s a serious allegation that needs to be addressed immediately) and that you will come back to them with your thoughts within a specified timeframe.

6. Summarise

Conclude the performance review by going back through your notes and summarising their achievements, the new goals they’ve set and your action points. Finish by saying you will formally write up your notes and will ask them to review and sign it. It’s a nice way to round out the discussion and end on a constructive and upbeat note.

Need More Assistance With Your Employee Appraisal?

That’s our guide to conducting an employee appraisal that benefits all parties involved, from helping you know more about your business to retaining the valued staff within it.

As the experts in temp and permanent recruitment in Australia and New Zealand, we’ve helped many clients hone their employment performance review process, offering a range of tips gleaned from our years of conducting interviews. If you’d like some extra support in this area or are in need of a new temporary or permanent recruit, please get in touch.

Author – Employment Group