How to overcome the top five employee evaluation and performance management problems

June 30th doesn't just mean tax time: it also means it's time for employee evaluation, performance management and appraisals. Breeze through this year's batch with these tips from Paula Maidens.

It’s the time of year that both employees and employers dread. The end of financial year means that performance appraisal time is fast approaching, bringing with it much anxiety and tension.

Few business processes receive as much negative publicity as appraisals. While performance reviews are often seen as the corporate equivalent of going to the dentist, the fact is that they have dramatic positive impacts upon a business when they’re done right, including increased employee performance, morale and job satisfaction.

Performance appraisals will help you to achieve these goals, by allowing your business to:

  • Align the everyday behaviour of the employee with the business direction
  • Provide feedback, to assist employee development
  • Discuss and define career/development goals, ensuring your top employees are motivated for a long-term future with your business

To turn performance appraisals from an annual burden into meetings that motivate, here are my top tips to overcome the five most common challenges that businesses face:

1. The performance appraisal and job description aren’t currently linked

It’s essential that the criteria for an appraisal links directly to the job itself. This allows you to align your wider business goals with what your employees are doing every day. Ensure that your employees’ efforts are focused on what really matters: contributing to your vision through their day-to-day responsibilities with clear KPIs.

2. The review turns into a salary discussion

While salary and performance are inevitably linked in most organisations, keep salary discussions separate to ensure the focus is on performance and development.

Set aside another time to discuss salary and inform your employees of this from the outset. This will allow you to reduce some of the tension and focus the appraisal on its goals: feedback, development and career opportunities.

3. The appraisal looms as a big ‘confrontation’

Cure the fear of feedback by doing it often: employees who are used to receiving performance feedback are more likely to view it as helpful. Don’t restrict performance discussions to the annual review – give timely, informal feedback and hold regular informal performance discussions with your employees to follow up and ensure they are developing and achieving throughout the year.

4. Performance has not been documented throughout the year

Failing to keep notes can lead to biases based on recent events, or your general perception of an employee. Keep a simple performance notebook for each employee to document specific events.

This will reduce the time drain come appraisal time, in addition to increasing the accuracy and perceived fairness of the process. It’s just as important to document superior performance as it is for negative performance, so keep notes on both so that you have specific examples to reference when giving your feedback.

5. Employees don’t have an action or career plan

To achieve results and increase performance, it’s essential to create a learning and development plan with each employee to help them prosper. Include plans to develop in skill areas and overall career, with specific goals and both long-term and short-term actions to be taken by the employee and employer.

Use performance appraisals as a strategic employee development tool and you will experience the results with improved performance, productivity and morale. Remember, it’s not the form that matters, it’s the process!

For more information on conducting simple performance reviews that motivate, Recruitment Coach is running a breakfast seminar in Brisbane on June 1st, at the Australian Institute of Management. Click here for more information and to register.

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