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Quick Tips for Managers: How to do a Constructive Performance Appraisal

performance appraisal or review is conducted by a supervisor or manager not only to increase the employee’s effectiveness and efficiency, but also to recognise his/her achievements, and efforts within the company and team. Depending on the policies and procedures of a company, most managers are expected to do some sort of employee performance appraisal or evaluation annually or either before an increase is due, or after a probation period.

Whatever the process, there is a negative connotation to doing performance appraisals and can be nerve wrecking not only to the employee, but also to you as the manager. Most managers don’t want to offend or hurt their employees’ feelings. Also, they want to avoid conflict situations and don’t want to anger the individual. And let’s face it, nobody wants to be criticized. But “a performance appraisal that is conducted effectively leads to greater employee morale, higher productivity, creating a positive culture and improved overall performance and effectiveness of an organisation”, Kumar Parakala says. 

Quick Tips on Performance Management:

The following tips will assist managers with the review process, ultimately increasing the probability of it becoming a win-win situation for both parties.

  • Be clear from the beginning. Build the foundation from the beginning. Make sure there are clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), and deliverables set out so that the employee knows exactly what they need to achieve, how they will be measured and what the consequences are if they don’t meet the expectations. Find out what motivated each employee and make them part of this process from the start. Sit down with them and get their input. Ask them what their own goals and expectations are and what they deem as realistic performance objectives. 
  • Talk about strengths and weaknesses. It is important that everyone is on the same page. While discussing the employee’s goals and objectives, make sure both parties understand their strengths and weaknesses. This will help to determine achievable and realistic objectives as well as make the necessary adjustments and suggestions of how challenges can be overcome from the start.  
  • Then, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Use the ‘Sandwich Approach,’ when giving feedback to the employee. This means start with an area where the employee shows positive performance, describing what he/she is doing right. Then word your negative feedback in such a way that it is more of a suggestion and end off by pointing out again some of the employee successes. This will make them feel as if you are not attacking them but dealing with the issue and suggesting positive change. 
  • Talk it through. Make them part of the discussion. Engage constantly with the employee by asking questions about the areas of improvement you would like to see.  Get the employee’s input on how they think they could enhance their performance. Talk about the various challenges and allow them to respond and ask questions.
  • Avoid going into attack mode. If you start the conversation with an attitude or an attacking tone of voice, the performance review will start negative. Don’t attack their personality or who they are as a person, but rather try to focus, in a relaxed, positive and constructive manner on the situation or area where they need to improve. Remember to be and act fair. Stay calm and collected throughout the conversation and if the conversation gets side-tracked, calmly bring the focus back to the issue at hand.  
  • Coach, guide and develop, rather than reprimand. It is important that an employee sees the experience as a learning opportunity. Employees should not be made to feel like failures. Throughout the review, the aim should be to build up efficiency and productivity and if employees feel unmotivated because they feel like failures, the opposite is achieved. Provide them with the necessary opportunities and courses where they can advance and enhance their skills to excel in cumbersome areas. 
  • Finish strong. End the review on a positive note and with a “thank you for hard work and dedication.” A clear plan going forward should be agreed upon by both parties before you finish. Set the next performance review date so the employee knows by when things need to be fixed.  Consider coupling a reward system as part of something to work towards. When the employee leaves the review, they should feel motivated and determined. 
  • Make it a regular thing. A lot of the time people only realise it is too late to perform when the performance review date is upon them. Rather adopt a model of continuous performance reviews where it is a regular or ongoing process. Also, don’t stop motivating the individual. Continuous motivation and guidance make for continuous improvement. 

Harold S. Green said: “In business, words are words; explanations are explanations; promises are promises, but only performance is reality.” A professional performance appraisal process helps give employees a clear path, guides them and aligns them with the objectives of the company.  Positive performance reviews clarify their job responsibilities and role and in turn also promotes workplace wellness and positive morale among staff.  But there is so much more to performance management.

The Mindspa Institute offers a training course ideal for Middle to Senior Management. It looks at why performance management is critical to business success, managing poor performance and motivation of your team.

The course will address frequently asked questions such as:

  • Why is performance management critical to business success?
  • What are the basic elements of performance management?
  • How to set performance objectives and goals that align with your strategy?
  • How to conduct a successful employee performance review?
  • How to listen actively and give proper feedback?
  • How to address poor performance and have that difficult conversation?

Furthermore, the course comprises of two sessions:

Session 1- First part of the day

  • Why is performance management critical to business success?
  • The basic elements of performance management
  • How to set performance objectives and goals that align with your strategy
  • Understanding Key Performance Areas (KPA’s) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) in conjunction with the employee’s job description
  • Managing poor performance
  • What Are Some of the Main Differences between Traditional and High Performance Organizations?
  • Recognize the early signs of poor performance, negative attitude or burn-out problems
  • How to deal with personal problems brought to work
  • Motivating your team
  • Understand the power of motivation
  • Top 5 High Performance Employee Motivation Techniques
  • Effective ways to reward employees
  • The Performance Review Process
  • How to prepare yourself and the employee
  • How to conduct a successful employee performance review
  • How to listen actively and give proper feedback
  • How to address poor performance and have that difficult conversation

Session 2 – During the second part of the day we spend the time conducting a practical workshop. During this session, the facilitator will lead the delegates through their company’s specific Performance Management Process. This will be a workshop approach where each delegate will be given the opportunity to follow the process, draw up a personal development plan, complete the documentation and role play various difficult scenarios.