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From Dreaded to Desired: The Appraisal Edition

Appraisals are back with a bang and are open to all kinds of diverse (yes, we’re being kind) perspectives from both employees and employers. Some hate it. Others love it. This piece is curated especially for leaders and managers to help them think about appraisals more holistically and make the most of this opportunity. We have collated some tips and tricks to enable effective, constructive, and conducive growth for both parties involved.

Tip 1: Plan & inform

One can say with certainty that employees respond better to appraisals when they are informed well in advance. A manager must conduct appraisals for an entire team in the short span of a few weeks. In the interest of saving time, sharing a tentative timeline in advance, and holding a detailed discussion to reach concrete steps is recommended.

Tip 2: Remember to do your homework

We talked about concrete steps in the previous point. Here’s a suggestion to do your homework before you invite your employee for a performance review or appraisal conversation. For this, you can assess the outcomes of their effort and crystallize that information into clearly written objectives.

As a manager, here’s why you must sit down with a list of points to address before you step into this conversation.

We urge you to answer this question in your head as you read along, “What are three of your shortcomings?”. Now think about three of your USPs, Unique Selling Points, or what sets you apart from the crowd. Do you find it slightly more difficult to call your USPs to mind? That’s the point we’re trying to make here. The negativity bias dictates that we, as humans, tend to remember and highlight the negatives more easily than the positives. Well-documented feedback, which is a balance between areas of improvement and those of expertise, will emerge when you regularly maintain notes of your employees’ performance. A system of collating feedback from time to time will help you simplify the process. This will enable you to communicate your thoughts clearly to your employee and equip them with a starting point to strategize their next move.

Tip 3: Emphasize their role in the team

Even though employees are aware of the role they play, it is still recommended to reassess them, their strengths, and their performance in relation to their team. Simply put, it means that you may describe to them how you, as an employer, visualize them contributing to the team. As much value as individual feedback holds on a micro level for personal development, the macro level feedback of team development can provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and how to optimize its overall performance.

Tip 4: Evaluate overt behaviours and results

The fundamental idea of conducting appraisals is to record, evaluate and suggest development. The basis of this being employees’ behaviours and subsequent results - all of which is overt and observable. Deviating from that only to discuss their covert personality traits like attitudes, motivation, and so on is counterproductive and may also come across as offensive. However, on a rare occasion, the employee may express their desire to challenge some of their core beliefs, or their lack of motivation. You must show willingness to dedicate another follow-up session to discuss this, all with deep empathy towards their welfare and wellbeing.

Tip 5: Follow up with a solution-oriented mindset

You’re nearing the end of this round of appraisals; you’re done pointing out the gaps in performance and areas where you could optimally harness the abilities of your employee. Now would be a good time to run some of the key takeaways that emerged from this performance review, by them. This is a favourable opportunity for you to identify the level of motivation your employee experiences.

Follow up and leave them with a couple of questions that not just point towards, but also go a step ahead by pointing them in the direction of a solution-oriented mindset. Even as you do this, remain mindful of keeping it positive and practical.

We hope this comes in handy when you prepare for appraisals this year! As this blog draws to a close, we would like to leave you with an idea - Providing regular feedback and coaching throughout the year is a more beneficial way to go, than having to cram suggestions into an annual appraisal conversation. Finally, please remember to follow up on the goals and objectives set during the appraisals. Because it is through a positive and supportive approach, that you, as a manager can foster a culture of well-meaning and well-being of your employees and the organisation.

We wish you a productive appraisal season!

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