A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

In a whirlwind of deadlines and meetings, it’s not always easy for employees to take a step back and think about how their job’s going. Even roles with a steady, predictable schedule can become comfortably routine.

But your company should find time to monitor and improve individual job performance, because it can closely affect your success.

That’s where the performance workplace appraisal comes in.

What is an appraisal?

A performance appraisal (or review) is an important time to discuss your employees’ performance and development. It’s a meeting between an individual and their line manager to record recent achievements and decide on future objectives. This helps maximise the potential of any one role.

For the employee, it’s also an ideal opportunity to put forward ideas about career development, including training and support needs. This can help them gain practical support in their career path and enjoy better job satisfaction.

All types of role — manual or office, front-of-house, senior management or freelancer, should enjoy this dedicated time.

How to carry out an employee appraisal

Formal appraisals are usually conducted annually. This means there can be a lot of information to cover, so it’s important that both employer and line manager come to the meeting well prepared.

Before an appraisal, both parties should take time to think about their objectives and complete an appropriate form with concrete areas for discussion. The line manager can also gather feedback from colleagues for a more comprehensive conversation; this is called a ‘360 review’.

During the appraisal, the line manager should:

  • assess performance against KPIs and soft targets (for example, behavioural and ethical values)
  • provide feedback about the employee’s progress, including positive reinforcement for tasks done well
  • suggest areas for improvement and provide access to resources, training ideas or mentoring schemes that could help
  • encourage honest feedback from the employee — do they feel supported? Is there specific training they need?

Following an appraisal, employees should be given a copy of their appraisal report so that they can carry out actions and track progress throughout the coming year.

However, many companies also encourage open dialogue throughout the year. This can help address issues as they arise and prevent problems from escalating.

Making appraisals work

Appraisals should feel like an effective use of precious time. One of their aims, after all, is to improve business performance. To ensure these evaluations are beneficial, your company should:

  • Make sure senior managers are committed to appraisals. All reviewers should receive proper training. They should also be given the time and resources they need to conduct the reviews thoroughly.
  • Keep it simple. This includes making forms easy to complete, using straightforward systems and minimising paperwork.
  • Appraise the appraisals. Check that appraisals are happening regularly, and ask for feedback about adapting the system to changing needs.

Employers are not required by law to introduce appraisal schemes. But, the benefits of doing so are clear to see

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