Performance management can enable you to understand your employees’ development needs, and therefore get better results for your business. Not only is it a good way to let you employees know what’s expected of them, but the appraisal meetings give you a good opportunity to learn from them, too.
There are 3 main tasks you need to do when planning how you’ll manage performance, which are:
1. set your employee’s goals
2. agree how they’ll achieve these goals, and
3. enroll them on any training that may help them in their journey.
To get the most out of your employees, it’s really important to create a strong appraisal system that incorporates the three main tasks above.
It’s also important that each staff member goes through the same performance management process – this ensures that not only the process is fair for everyone, but you’ll get a much better idea of how it’s working as a whole.
Appraisal not disciplinary
Don’t confuse appraisal meetings with disciplinary meetings.
If you have difficult items of performance to discuss with an employee, consider first whether an appraisal meeting is appropriate for these discussions. You may want to take advice about how to handle these discussions if the appraisal is due, but your overriding concern is to address aspects of the employee’s performance that would be more appropriate for a disciplinary discussion.
The goals that you set, and that your employee strives to achieve, need to be discussed and agreed between you both.
It’s vital that the employee is completely clear on what’s expected from them, otherwise they could receive an unfair scoring from you at the appraisal meeting that they may be justified in challenging.
Objectives should be specific, relevant to the employee’s job, humanly attainable and measurable, so that you can clearly see the results – for example, the number of sales in a set period of time, or the amount of time a specific task or project takes to complete.
Once you have set the objectives, make sure that the employee is confident they can achieve them. If they are in agreement, you should then set deadlines for the objectives to be met (this should ideally coincide with your next appraisal meeting date).
Holding an appraisal meeting
Once your employee has been working at their objectives for some time, you should hold an appraisal meeting to discuss what has been achieved, how it has been achieved, what could have been improved, and what the plans are for the future.
In general, the meeting should run like this:
• Welcome the employee and remind them of the focus of the meeting
• Recap on the objectives that were set, along with the specific measureable goals and the deadlines
• Ask the employee how they feel they have handled the objectives and if they had any issues
• Go through your own findings, sharing with them both the positive observations and those where there is room for improvement
• Discuss how any areas for improvement could be actioned – whether that’s more training or perhaps agreeing a less challenging version of the goal (e.g. a lower sales figure goal), or for the employee to adjust their current working practices or balance of overall workplace commitments
• Together, decide on the objectives to focus on next, keeping in mind the same criteria as when you first set the goals, and ensure the employee is comfortable with what is agreed
• Write up the points discussed during the meeting, along with your feedback on their performance, and hand/email a copy to your employee for their reference. You may also want the employee to confirm (by email is fine), that they agree with the written notes as a fair and accurate respresentation of what was discussed and agreed.
How to manage a difficult appraisal meeting
When you need to speak to an employee about poor performance, you may find that the employee doesn’t agree with your assessment – which may cause them to become defensive or hostile. If this does happen, it’s important to not feel intimidated and to not allow your decision to be influenced by them. Instead, calmly and clearly explaining your reasoning to the employee, and remind them of their right to appeal the decision if they feel necessary.
To help you handle these meetings appropriately, use our checklist for chairing formal meetings with employees (coming soon).
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