Effective performance appraisals
Aside from formal traditional (annual, six-monthly, quarterly, or monthly) performance appraisals, there are many different methods of performance evaluation. The use of any of these methods depends on the purpose of the evaluation, the individual, the assessor, and the environment.
The formal annual performance appraisal is generally the over-riding instrument which gathers together and reviews all other performance data for the previous year.
Performance appraisals should be positive experiences. The appraisals process provides the platform for development and motivation, so organizations should foster a feeling that performance appraisals are positive opportunities, in order to get the best out of the people and the process. In certain organizations, performance appraisals are widely regarded as something rather less welcoming ('bollocking sessions' is not an unusual description), which provides a basis only on which to develop fear and resentment, so never, never, never use a staff performance appraisal to handle matters of discipline or admonishment, which should instead be handled via separately arranged meetings.
types of performance and aptitude assessments, including formal performance appraisals
Formal annual performance appraisals
Informal one-to-one review discussions
Observation on the job
Skill- or job-related tests
Assignment or task followed by review, including secondments (temporary job cover or transfer) Assessment centres, including observed group exercises, tests presentations, etc.
Survey of opinion of others who have dealings with the individual
Psychometric tests and other behavioural assessments
Graphology (handwriting analysis)
None of these methods is mutually exclusive. All of these performance assessment methods can be used in conjunction with others in the list, depending on situation and organizational policy. Where any of these processes is used, the manager must keep a written record, and must ensure agreed actions are followed up. The notes of all review situations can then be referred to at the formal appraisal.
Holding regular informal one-to-one review meetings greatly reduces the pressure and time required for the annual formal appraisal meeting. Holding informal reviews every month is ideal all staff. There are several benefits of reviewing frequently and informally:
The manager is better informed and more up-to-date with his or her people's activities (and more in touch with what lies beyond, e.g., customers, suppliers, competitors, markets, etc)
Difficult issues can be identified, discussed and resolved quickly, before they become more serious.
Help can be given more readily - people rarely ask unless they see a good opportunity to do so - the regular informal review provides just this.
Assignments, tasks and objectives can be agreed completed and reviewed quickly - leaving actions more than a few weeks reduces completion rates significantly for all but the most senior and experienced people.
Objectives, direction, and purpose is more up-to-date - modern organizations demand more flexibility than a single annual review allows - priorities often change through the year, so people need to be re-directed and re-focused.
Training and development actions can be broken down into smaller more digestible chunks, increasing success rates and motivational effect as a result.
The 'fear factor', often associated by many with formal appraisals, is greatly reduced because people become more comfortable with the review process.
Relationships and mutual understanding develops more quickly with greater frequency of meetings between manager and staff member.
Staff members can be better prepared for the formal appraisal, giving better results, and saving management time.
Much of the review has already been covered throughout the year by the time comes for the formal appraisal.
Frequent review meetings increase the reliability of notes and performance data, and reduces the chances of overlooking things at the formal appraisal.