Preparing to be appraised.
The focus of performance appraisals has shifted in recent years, away from strict evaluation towards improving performance and developing the appraisee by means of an honest and open discussion.
With improvement and development as guiding principles the appraisal process focuses on: results and behaviour, not personality; issues and problems, constructive development to improve performance; and the motivation and growth of the appraisee. It takes place as often as is thought productive, perhaps every three to six months, certainly no less frequently than every twelve.
Appraisees should expect to:
* have a clear picture of what is expected of them at the appraisal after discussion with your boss
* be able to discuss priorities
* receive feedback on their performance
* be heard and respected
* be offered constructive guidance on attaining agreed goals
* receive help in constructing personal development plans and targets
* accept ownership of their performance
* understand how their work relates, to their team and/or the corporate objectives of the company.
Requirements for successful appraisal
* Clear understanding of the purpose and the process of the appraisal
* Clear understanding of the terms of reference of the appraisal--eg if it is linked to pay then what are the evaluation criteria and how are they applied?
* Thorough preparation by the appraisee (and appraiser)
* Resolution to tackle problems honestly
* Being relaxed even if past objectives have not been achieved
* Being positive, especially in terms of further personal development
National Occupational Standards for Management and Leadership
This checklist has relevance to the following standards:
A: Managing self and personal skills, units 1, 2
A performance appraisal is a more complex process than simply having a meeting. It centres on a face-to-face discussion wherein an employee's work is discussed, reviewed and appraised by another, using an agreed and understood framework. Line managers usually conduct the appraisal(s) of their staff. Objectives and targets for the coming year are also agreed.
1. Understand the objectives and terms of reference
If there is an established scheme or programme, then this will provide a framework that your employer follows. Make sure you understand whether the appraisal scheme is linked to pay. If it is, make sure you understand how the evaluation criteria apply to your work.
2. Agree a date for the appraisal
Ideally, at least two weeks should be allowed for preparation and reflection. An early date should not be agreed simply to get it over and done with. An appraisee should be allowed reasonable time to prepare.
3. Prepare for the meeting
Your manager should provide you with notes for guidance about the purpose of the appraisal process and an outline of the structure of the meeting. This will help both of you to prepare and focus on the same issues. Make notes on each point that you wish to comment on. Broadly, the appraisal will be in two sections--reviewing the past year's performance and agreeing goals and objectives for the next year.
4. The appraisal itself
Although your manager will lead the appraisal, you will be expected to contribute substantially to the discussion. Key areas to focus on include:
* tasks or projects that gave you particular satisfaction--and why
* tasks or projects that gave you least satisfaction--and why
* your overall performance
* areas for possible improvement
* next year's output
* short and long-term personal development.
5. Ask for, and give, feedback
Feedback should be constructive, using events, instances and examples to highlight aspects of learning and development. Feedback is invaluable, both to yourself and your manager.
6. Don't be reticent about problems
Use the appraisal process to raise any issues or problems that may be affecting your performance. For example, a faulty piece of equipment may be delaying your efforts, or you may feel you need extra help. Whatever the issue(s), open discussion is an essential key to resolving such problems. Additionally, it is an excellent idea to propose your own solutions to any problems. Even if they are not implemented, it shows a thoughtful approach to the job.
7. Establish priorities
Both you and your manager may have differing views on what are your key priorities. There may be good reasons for this, for example, your manager will be trying to align the department's output with the organisation's goals and objectives, which may give a different focus. Discussion should help clarify the issues and help arrive at an agreed set of priorities.
8. Bring departmental relationships into the open
Apart from breakdowns of equipment systems and people relationships, other departments can cause difficulties. If another department is a genuine and continuing source of operational or customer difficulty, then suggest that a meeting is held with that department to resolve the problem, and possibly establish a service level agreement with them. You will need to give clear examples of how you are being affected.
9. Propose objectives
Do not go into the appraisal meeting assuming that your boss will have your next year's goals and targets already defined. Work out your own proposals, your own tactics and your own targets and remember that you have an advantage that your boss should recognise--you are the one who is doing the job.
10. Agree goals and targets
The setting of goals and targets should not be a one-way process. At worst you can go blindly on "upping" last year's figures paying no attention to changing resources and changing markets. At best you can discuss a reassessment of factors contributing to change with the appraiser. Do not be afraid to take a completely fresh look: you may need to establish different kinds of goals and targets. Consider alternative ways, procedures or processes to achieve your goals.
11. Agree further training and development
As well as specific problems and concerns, discuss aspects of continuing development which have not yet been addressed or which form part of a general programme of skills acquisition. Make time to reflect on and plan a flexible development programme from which both your job and you yourself can benefit.
12. Explain personal development requirements
Your boss will help you to identify training needs, some of which may be more obvious than others. Take the opportunity to review your competence and capability, both technically and in terms of general management development, not just in relation to your immediate job, but for your future development and promotion. What would you like to be doing in, say, three years' time?
13. Identify support required
With objectives set and targets agreed, assess whether you need extra support in order to move forward, in terms of training, resources, or even time for further clarification.
14. Agree the evaluation
If the appraisal process has an evaluation element rather than the discussion focus which this checklist has featured, then be clear on what you can contribute to the process and how far you agree with the overall evaluation.
15. Do the summing-up
It is good practice for the appraiser to ask the appraisee to summarise the agreed action points and plans from the discussion. While it is important that you "own" the tasks and activities ahead, it is to your advantage that they are clarified and expressed in a way that you understand. Write up the agreed action points and targets for both you and your boss to sign as a record for the future. This will also act as a useful reminder to you as to what you need to do, and will help you to schedule in conflicting priorities.
How not to manage preparing to be appraised
* try to avoid difficult issues
* be afraid to challenge any unfair conclusions or decisions
* spend all your time taking notes--outcomes / action points are important
* be over-critical of other departments or colleagues
* descend to personal levels.
Appraisal and feedback: making performance review work, 3rd ed, Clive Fletcher
London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2004
Appraisal and performance management, Alison Naisby London: Spiro Press, 2002
Effective personal appraisal: a management guide, Trevor J Bentley Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2001
Managing performance: (Managing best practice 86) London: Industrial Society, 2001
Successful performance management in a week, Phil Baguley London: Hodder and Stoughton, Institute of Management, 2001
This is a selection of books available for loan to members from the Management Information Centre. More information at: www.managers.org.uk/mic