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Giving an effective performance appraisal

Aude Creveau

You might have some of the brightest employees in the industry, but are they stumbling around in the dark?

Unless a clear strategy is in place to communicate feedback to employees and share a performance assessments, they'll be hard-pressed to know what they're doing right, or how they can improve. That's where a performance appraisal comes in.

Performing a performance appraisal allows managers to review an employee's performance on an individual level. It's also an ideal time to recognise achievements, goal setting, and discuss learning and development opportunities.

When performed successfully, employees walk out of their performance appraisal with a better understanding of their role and their field. They're also clearer on work performance and their current job status. As a result, job satisfaction improves, along with team morale.

Not sure how a performance appraisal works? That's why we're here.Today, we're sharing how to conduct an employee appraisal that leaves employees empowered, encouraged and ultimately, more inspired to exceed their personal best. Ready to learn more? Let's dive in!

The benefits of conducting a performance appraisal

With so much on your plate already, why is it worth the effort to conduct an employee performance appraisal? Let's take a look at some of the top benefits you can expect when you prioritise this important process.

  • Clear responsibilities and goals

Research shows that only half of employees strongly understand what's expected of them at work. Could this apply to your managers and employees?

During a performance appraisal, you can provide your employees with a clear review of their job descriptions and responsibilities. You can also thoroughly explain the expectations that accompany their role.

This way, there's no grey area. Your workers know exactly the kind of output and performance you're looking for, along with actionable steps they can take to achieve it. This is why a can lead to improved job performance across departments. At the same time, a performance appraisal is also a great time to set future goals.

What marks do you want each employee to hit in the next few months? How can they get there? Looking ahead together can help foster a sense of job security and encourage employees to meet or surpass those objectives.

  • Increase motivation

It's no secret that a motivated workforce is a successful one. Did you know that you hold this key?

Studies reveal that managers influence 70% of an employee's motivation level. How can you leverage this control responsibly?

A performance appraisal allows you to clearly define each employee's goals. Together, you can also take a close look at their challenges, obstacles, and long-term career development plan.
Viewing all of these factors in a clear and defined way during a performance appraisal can naturally motivate employees to do their best. Discussing this during the performance appraisal helps eliminate confusion and establish a clear path forward.

  • Increase employee retention

Keeping your workforce encouraged is key to ensuring they stick around as long as possible.
Employee retention focuses on giving employees meaning and a purpose within your organisation. It also means recognising them when they succeed and challenging them with new tasks that you believe they can handle.

When expressed during a performance appraisal, this responsibility and recognition can go a long way toward encouraging them to stay with your company for the long-term. Here are more tips to increase employee retention.

  • Boost productivity

When they have clearly-set goals laid out before them, there's no doubt that employees will strive to achieve them. 

In fact, a recent Gallup survey reveals that when workers come from productive and encouraging teams, they're more likely to agree with the following statement:

"I know what is expected of me at work."

Answering "yes" to that sentiment is a major step in the right direction, and a performance appraisal can help your employees get there.

  • Enhanced teamwork

Employees don't work in a silo. Rather, their actions affect everyone on their team, whether positively or negatively.

During their performance appraisal, you can explain how their performance is helping or hurting the productivity of their colleagues. This can help them improve their notion of teamwork, encouraging them to cooperate and work together to achieve organisational goals.

How to conduct a performance appraisal

Before the performance appraisal

Now that we've discussed a few of the benefits of holding a performance appraisal, let's review the steps to take to implement one.

1. Set a date for the meeting

No one wants to be surprised by a spur-of-the-moment meeting with the boss. Not only can this be insensitive, but it could also pull the employee away from important work duties.

Instead, it's important to set a time for the performance appraisal well in advance. There will be important topics discussed, and both parties need to come well-prepared. When setting a date, make sure to leave plenty of time for everyone to gather important documents, performance evaluations, and other necessary information.

Want to set reminders to prepare employee performance reviews and adjust them according to your needs? You can do so in a few clicks using kiwiHR’s checklists.

2. Complete performance appraisal forms

Your employee job performance should be unbiased, fair and accurate.

Rather than reinventing the wheel with each review meeting, use a performance appraisal template to guide your discussion. Share this document with your employees and supervisors to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Not only will this step remove bias, but it will also lay out the topics to cover and ensure the meeting is structured properly. With the performance appraisal template in hand, both parties can think about their objectives and desired topics.

3. Consider a 360- degree feedback

Want to encourage a more comprehensive conversation during your performance appraisal? Consider holding a 360-degree feedback! 

This is a professional feedback opportunity in which a group of coworkers and colleagues works together to provide input on an individual employee's performance. This way, you can provide ideas and notes from various perspectives, helping to create a more well-rounded and multi-faceted meeting.

During the performance appraisal

4. Hold the performance appraisal meeting

The performance management process is complete and the big day is finally here. Let's take a look at the steps to take when you're ready to hold your actual performance appraisal meeting. 

5. Explain the meeting's structure once again

Begin by explaining the way the performance appraisal will work. Share the points you intend to discuss, the questions you have, and the key points you plan to cover.

This can help set the employee's mind at ease and remove any doubts they might have. A performance review can be nerve-wracking, and the more comfortable they are, the more productive the meeting will be.

When you set the expectations early on in the performance appraisal process, your employees will know exactly what to expect and when it's appropriate to participate.

6. Give your feedback

You want to end your performance appraisal on a good note, so deliver any bad news first.
According to research, employees are most satisfied when negative news is addressed early on in the interview. By getting this hard part out of the way in the beginning, you clear the way for the rest of the discussion to be more encouraging and uplifting.

However, resist the urge to wax poetic on the negative during the performance appraisal. Even if you have plenty to say, try to focus on the employee's strong points, not their negatives. 

In one study, a vast majority (67%) of employees who strongly agreed that their manager concentrated on their strengths over their weaknesses reported feeling engaged at work. On the other hand, only 31% of employees felt engaged when their manager highlighted their weaknesses.

This doesn't mean pushing any unfavourable feedback under the rug. Once you've shared it, discuss areas of improvement with the employee. Offer constructive feedback, along with training ideas or mentoring schemes that could help. Continued education can help increase employee satisfaction and reverse patterns of weak performance.

Before closing this part of the performance appraisal, recognise the employee's strengths and praise their accomplishments. Try to wrap up these statements in a way that leaves the employee feeling encouraged and ready to improve.

After the performance appraisal

7. Share the performance appraisal notes

At the end of the performance appraisal, make sure to provide all employees with a copy of the discussion notes. If you send them away empty-handed, they could quickly forget the important parts of the discussion and your expectations for them moving forward. 
With a copy of the notes, they can carry out the actions discussed and track their progress. They can also keep their performance appraisal notes on hand for future reference.

A 2016 paper from the NeuroLeadership Institute found that 91% of companies that adopt continuous performance management report better data for people-based decisions. They've also made major progress in removing bias in their promotion and advancement processes.

8. Hold a performance appraisal meeting regularly

Research reveals that employees whose managers hold regular performance appraisal meetings with them are three times more likely to be engaged than employees whose managers do not perform this step.

Once you have the template prepared and the process in place, make it a point to hold performance review meetings regularly to keep employees engaged and on task.

How to get started with performance appraisals using kiwiHR

Are you ready to start creating powerful performance appraisals that could transform your workplace? Our platform can get you there. Let's review the steps to take to get started.

1. Share performance appraisal forms

Access and use our integrated resource management system to store and share your company's appraisal forms.

With this tool, employees and managers alike can access the document 24/7 from anywhere, at any time. From there, they can also download them at their discretion.

2. Set responsibilities and job duties

Are you adding a new employee to your team?

You can use our onboarding process to define their expectations and set their responsibilities. This way, they'll know the exact tasks they need to complete from day one and there isn't any confusion. 

Alternatively, you can also upload their job description to their digital employee file. This way, they can access it at any time when they need a refresher using the people system.

3. Set goals and targets

Setting employee-specific goals and targets is a great way to measure their performance. With kiwiHR’s onboarding checklist, you can set deadlines and assign supervisors to oversee employee performance. 

This way, everyone has a clear understanding of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and can keep them in mind. They also have a due date to follow to make sure everyone stays on track.

4. Prepare for the performance appraisal review

Another benefit of using kiwiHR’s onboarding checklist?

With this tool, you can create a template and a comprehensive checklist for every meeting. When you create and save your own template, you can lay out the exact process you plan to use and the points you want to discuss.

Keeping this document for future reference will save you time and effort down the road. Once you have yours the way you want it, you can keep using the same checklist. With each new meeting, you'll simply change the due date, assignee, and supervisor.


Driving growth with performance appraisal meetings

As a busy manager, you have plenty of responsibilities on your plate. Adding a performance appraisal process to the mix might feel like an extra task. Yet, its importance cannot be overstated.

A well-executed performance appraisal shows your staff that they are valued. It also provides the opportunity to recharge your team's batteries and make sure everyone is communicating and collaborating effectively. All of these steps can have a positive, unparalleled impact on your company's performance. 

The best part? Our HR software makes it easier than ever to get started.

Sign up today to try kiwiHR free for 14 days. We're proud to offer online HR software that saves you time, strengthens your knowledge and improves your productivity, one step at a time.

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