Just a few weeks to go until the new year. That means it’s time to do your year-end employee performance appraisals. The time you invest in this crucial aspect of employee relations can help employees gain expertise and become more productive. Plus, it can help build loyalty and strengthen your entire company.
Not sure where or how to begin? The following guidelines should help:
? Schedule an appointment. Don’t catch workers on the fly as they walk down the hall. Make an appointment so you both have time to get ready.
? Prepare. Review files, compensation, praise points and areas of concern. Write down goals and recommendations. Be honest and candid in your evaluation summary.
? Ask employees to prepare as well, and to do so in writing. Some managers distribute a brief questionnaire prior to the meeting. If you have a mission statement, make copies available.
Guidelines questions to ask in the appraisal:
"How do you see your job?"
"What do you believe were your accomplishments this year?"
"Where do you believe you need to improve your own performance?"
"How would you revise your job description?" (Or: "Would you please draft a job description?")
"What do you believe we are doing well as a company?"
"What do you believe we could be doing better as a company?"
"Where do you see yourself two years from now?"
? Balance your appraisal. Don’t use this as an opportunity to deliver a tongue lashing. Instead, find something positive to say. Also, couch criticism in a constructive way.
? Appraise results, not personalities. Don’t let the "halo effect" of your fondness for a so-so salesperson turn his appraisal into a praise session, while you virtually dismiss the achievements of the whiz-bang bookkeeper because she has zero social skills. At the same time, review actions, not character traits. For example, you might want to say, "You missed three project deadlines this year," rather than inform your employee, "I think you’re just lazy."
? Be a good listener. If you encourage people to speak their minds without fear of reprisal, you’ll get honest answers and reliable information. You may have to endure some venting of anger, especially if they’re not used to getting the boss’s attention. But that’s the time for you to be quiet and listen. These are golden opportunities to learn about things you may not otherwise get an opportunity to hear.
? Be specific. Give concrete advice in the form of direction and goals. Employees should leave their appraisal with clear guidelines for the coming year. Don’t give vague objectives like "Work harder." Instead, say: "You need to bring your computer skills up to this level," and set a deadline.
? Start thinking about next year’s performance appraisal. Make sure all employees have a job description. You may even want to have them write or update their own. This can serve as a foundation for future performance appraisals. Also, talk several times a year. This may include regular staff meetings.
Some company owners hold a "lunch and learn" session in the conference room or shop once a month. Others schedule five minutes daily over coffee to review yesterday’s events and preview today’s activities.
The bottom line: With a little planning, you can make performance appraisals valuable tools that can help you boost morale and productivity and make yourself a better, more effective manager.
Good luck. — JRIngrisano, The Freestyle Entrepreneur.com
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