I had a friend contact me the other day – she wasn’t happy – her yearly appraisal was due and she had no idea what to write.
I knew how she was feeling as I too have been in her shoes – dreading the “meeting” and honestly believing it was a one-way process.
That was until I became a manager and had to hold appraisals for staff. Believe me it’s not that easy.
The worse is when you have a member of staff sitting in front of you with nothing to say, with very little on their form and not wanting to be there, that then can almost become one-sided.
As a Manager, it was my job to make this meeting work, to show the member of staff that it was a two-way process and their opinions did matter. Their input was important. So how did I go about this?
I always made sure that staff had plenty of notice that their appraisal was due. They were given a form to complete and asked to return it to me at least a week before their appraisal. That way I would be able to investigate and feedback at the appraisal.
On the day of the appraisals I made sure my diary was clear, that my secretary took all my calls and I was not to be interrupted. To ensure that this happened I would hold the appraisals in another room.
I would ensure that the desk was clear, a glass of water was available for the member of staff, as sometimes staff (especially new staff) can get quite nervous.
I always prepared for each and every appraisal. I allowed plenty of time for each appraisal and always allowed for an overrun in the event that a member of staff needed more time. Everyone deserved the respect and to be treated as an individual.
I would always start with what they were doing well. Praising them was important. Every step I would ask if they had anything to add, instead of asking at the end of the appraisal.
If I had to discuss ways that they needed to improve I would always get measurable proof. Find a way forward – turning a negative into a positive.
I would ask some open questions – what has been good in the last year / what have not been so successful?
It was important for me to get them talking, and to ensure that I covered everything there was on the form. If there were any blanks on the form (and there were often some) I would go over the question in the appraisal and together we would fill in the blanks.
At the end of the appraisal I would always make sure that I had covered everything. I would ask if they were happy with the appraisal, if there is something that I might have missed out, and how they felt that I supported them as a manager over the past year.
The most important thing is following up after any appraisal. If you said you would do something then make sure you do it. Don’t let the member of staff down, they would have every reason to dread next year’s appraisal. If the member of staff has highlighted something then its over to you – it could be training that they have said they would like to do, or perhaps be considered for promotion, or simply changing their hours.
If you use the appraisals right you can and will get so much more from your team.
A staff appraisal should be a two-way process.