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The Performance Appraisal that Performs

Men discussing performance appraisal

The performance appraisal is a crucial tool in driving a performance-based culture at any organization. Regardless of whether your organization conducts appraisals quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, it is important to remember that the goal of a performance appraisal is to provide feedback on an employee’s performance not only in relation to their position and its requirements, but also in relation to your organization’s goals and values. Generally speaking, a well-designed performance appraisal should highlight areas of both strength and improvement, evaluate whether objectives set during the previous performance appraisal have been met, and set goals for the next appraisal period.

Below are a few best practices that will help ensure each performance appraisal at your organization is always focused, effective, and productive.

Set goals clearly

Employees should always know exactly what criteria they are being evaluated on, what goals they should be working towards, and that their results will be reflected in their performance appraisal. To ensure your employees are aware of these factors, simply follow the SMART formula:

  • Specific – Be precise when telling your employees what you want them to accomplish.
  • Measurable – Explain exactly how you will measure their accomplishments.
  • Attainable – Ensure the goals you’re setting are things that can actually be done.
  • Relevant – Make sure objectives are tied to your employees’ individual job functions as well as the organization’s overall objectives.
  • Timely – Be clear about when you expect your employees to achieve their goals.

Promote shared responsibility

The performance appraisal should be clear not only about what the employee is responsible for, but also what you as the manager are responsible for. Allow employees to provide feedback about what they felt went well, what they want to work on, and what their successes were. This openness allows for collaboration – and when you collaborate with your employees, you gain valuable insights that can lead to increased productivity.

Identify career development benchmarks

An important message from any manager is that you are investing not only in your employees’ job performance, but also in their professional development. However, each employee also needs to take ownership of their own development. To ensure that each of your employees knows how to reach the next step in their career path, be sure to provide clear benchmarks for performance measurement, career development, and promotions.

Keep every performance appraisal private

A performance appraisal represents a confidential, open dialogues between you and a particular employee, so it’s important to ensure that each one is held in an environment that is private, quiet, and free of distractions.

Provide feedback all year round

Remember that feedback should not be limited to performance appraisal periods alone; it should be provided continuously throughout the year to address any issues or areas of development as they arise, and to ensure everyone stays on the path to success.

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