5 Steps to Successful Annual Performance Appraisals

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This post is by Sean Conrad, Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software.

Annual performance appraisals are often viewed by managers and employees as a necessary evil – something HR makes them do that they get little value from. But performance appraisals can be a huge contributor to employee high performance, if you do them well. Here are 5 steps to successful performance appraisals:

1. Prepare for the Appraisal Meetings

  • Set up a date, time and location for a private meeting with each employee. Make sure you allow enough time for each meeting and choose a location where you’ll both be comfortable to talk.
  • Gather and review information about each employee’s performance over the past year. This can include things like self-appraisals, 360 degree feedback, last year’s appraisals, progress reports or journal notes, etc.
  • Consider each employee’s communication style and how it may differ from yours. Think about how you may need to adapt your communication to be effective.
  • Get the performance appraisal form you’ll be using and fill in the details you can in advance. You can get some samples of effective employee evaluation forms here.

2. Evaluate Last Year’s Performance

  • Rate each employee’s performance of their goals and any core or job specific competencies identified for them. Provide concrete examples of performance to substantiate your ratings and use as illustrations in your discussion. Remember to give feedback on good performance as well as less than desired performance.

3. Establish Goals for the Coming Year

  • Define SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) goals for each of your employees. Make sure you link each goal to the higher level organizational goal that it supports so each employee has a clear context for their work.

4. Conduct the Performance Appraisal Meetings

  • Go through your ratings and feedback with each employee.
  • Ask each employee for their perspective on their performance and your ratings/feedback.
  • Review and discuss their goals for the coming year.
  • Discuss short and long term career aspirations.
  • Define any development plans the employee needs to expand their knowledge, skills or experience.
  • Update the performance appraisal form as required by your discussion.

5. Stop Thinking of Performance Management as a Once a Year Activity

Performance management is most effective when it involves an ongoing dialogue between a manager and employee. Instead of just doing it once a year:

  • Give each employee feedback and coaching on their performance an ongoing basis.
  • Review progress on goals, and adjust as needed.
  • Keep notes on their accomplishments, performance and development throughout the year.
  • Address any performance challenges as they arise, with feedback, coaching, development, etc.

sean-conrad-halogen-softwareSean Conrad works for Halogen Software, a market leading provider of performance appraisal software. He’s passionate about helping managers adopt best practices that help develop a high performing, engaged workforce. You can read some of his other posts on the Halogen blog.