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How to conduct appraisals smoothly so that a positive outcome is achieved

Employers that know how to conduct appraisals can benefit from the improved performance of an employee, especially when it comes to their motivation and efficiency.
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Appraisals can be viewed by HR professionals, line managers and employees as a box ticking exercise rather than an opportunity to review an individual’s work with the intention of improving their output. With that in mind, here are some top tips on how to conduct appraisals.

1) Train your managers

There is often the assumption that because a person is a manager they know how to conduct appraisals. To ensure both employees and managers understand how they can maximise the benefits, make sure the process is clear and brief them on the organisation’s approach to appraisals, as well as why and how they should conduct them. Managers should be taught how to broach/approach potentially difficult conversations to ensure the process goes smoothly and a positive outcome is achieved.

2) Plan ahead

A self-assessment form completed by the employee and a pre-appraisal form completed by the manager can ensure the conversation is structured and will enable there to be a focus on both the positives and negatives of an employee’s performance; too often the focus is on the latter and achievements are overlooked.

3) Keep and set targets

It’s important to explore the skills employees have used to work towards their targets (not just the more simplistic issue of whether they have achieved them or not), and how they can develop those skills. Some three to five action points are ideal. Make it a two-way process – managers should encourage an employee to participate fully in the appraisal, so they feel as involved in their development as their manager.

4) Consider ‘mini’ appraisals

You should question how many months you should leave before having an appraisal with an employee. An ongoing appraisal process throughout the course of the year, rather than an annual appraisal, offers the employee the chance to reflect on recent mistakes and receive more instant – and therefore relevant – praise for success. Leaving it a year means some positive and negative experiences may have been forgotten.

5) Review targets periodically

Managers should ensure they follow up with employees regarding targets set in the appraisal to help them progress. This is where one of the key values in appraisals lies – it’s crucial that action points don’t get filed away and forgotten.

Remember that appraisals can be rendered meaningless when issues are not discussed in depth, and appraisal scores are awarded similarly across all employees. Difficulties could arise with this if used in a redundancy selection process and the scores are near identical. It’s also important that problems are documented and discussed as this can create issues if you want to fairly dismiss an employee at a later stage. If an employee is unaware of an issue they will not have the opportunity to address it.

Every organisation – and every employee – is different, so it’s important to conduct appraisals accordingly. Having a simple and clear process that is followed through consistently and constantly, in addition to training managers, is key to ensuring that your organisation extracts maximum value from appraisals.

Keely Rushmore is a senior associate in the employment team at SA Law

Image: Shutterstock

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