Most people would rather get a root canal than participate in an annual employee performance appraisal.
The reasons employee performance appraisals are so difficult is simple:
- Most managers don’t deliver timely and balanced (positive and negative) feedback throughout the year.
- Many employees don’t ask for regular feedback.
- Too much information is delivered during the annual employee performance appraisal.
- And as crazy as it sounds, managers and employees haven’t agreed to give and receive regular and candid feedback.
Employee performance appraisals don’t have to be the worst day of the year.
Here are four steps to ensure employee performance appraisals are useful and positive:
- Managers and employees must agree to give and receive balanced, candid feedback. Don’t assume the agreement to speak honestly is implicit, make it explicit.
- Managers, be honest and courageous. Don’t rate an employee a five who is really a three. You don’t do anyone any favors. Employees want to know how they’re really doing, no matter how much the feedback may sting.
- Managers, focus on three things the employee did well and three things to do more of next year. Any more input is overwhelming.
- Managers, schedule a second conversation a week after the employee performance appraisal, so employees can think about and process what you’ve said and discuss further, if necessary.
The key to being able to speak candidly during an employee performance appraisal is as simple as agreeing that you will do so and then being receptive to whatever is said. And don’t make feedback conversations a one-time event. If you do a rigorous workout after not exercising for a long time, you often can’t move the next day. Feedback conversations aren’t any different. They require practice for both the manager and employee to be comfortable.
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