Performance appraisal is one of the most universally hated tasks that managers undertake, and one of the most important tasks they have. In the crush of time that is the workplace, many managers do not make the effort to give timely feedback to their staff. At performance appraisal time, feedback is given that is out of date and often a big unwelcome surprise to the employee. Both parties are tense and uncomfortable with this sort of appraisal.
Performance feedback once a year is just not good enough; the performance appraisal process should be happening all year long. HR can bring managers into the performance process and make annual performance reviews less onerous by conditioning them to believe that managing performance is a continuous process that is built into their job every day.
Train the managers to give performance feedback to their employees on a regular basis. A weekly, or monthly, chat with each individual on how things are going would not be too much.
Train them to have brief informal exchanges, where managers can let staff know how they are doing and review any critical incidents that occurred recently. The manager can discuss both those things that went badly and those things that went well, and the role the employee played in both productive and nonproductive incidents, while the time period is still fresh in everyone's mind.
The discussion of critical incidents and why they occurred could indicate the need for training or career development for the employee and give that person an opportunity to improve poor performance. It also can give managers an opportunity to take note of excellent performance that may lead to bonuses, awards or merit increases; or to document poor performance that may lead ultimately to disciplinary action.
These brief and informal discussions are a great time for managers to get feedback from their staff as well. Employees have good ideas about processes and products, and how things could be improved at work if they are given an opportunity to contribute. An atmosphere of open two-way communications makes employees feel comfortable with making suggestions or bringing problems to the managers' attention.
Managers dislike having discussions with employees when poor performance occurs because most people neither give nor respond well to criticism. Train them to present objective performance facts openly and positively, and not to attack employees on a personal level. Employees respond more positively when they are presented with facts and asked for suggestions for how the situation can improve, rather than being told they are "problem employees."
If managers keep a simple log of conversations held with employees each week or month, over the year a record develops with examples of each employee's progress or lack thereof. When that dreaded annual performance review day arrives, the managers have documentation readily available that already has been discussed with employees. The record will show improvement or the lack of improvement, training opportunities pursued and whether goals were met or missed. There won't be any surprises for either party, and the performance discussion can be smooth and productive.
Thanks to Society for Human Resource Management