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Doing Performance Appraisals? Make Sure You’re Prepared!

By Dr. Geri Markel On 

Don’t Skip Performance Appraisals!

During the last quarter of the year, many leaders are responsible for conducting performance reviews or engaging in 360° evaluations. Some leaders have training for this responsibility, while others don’t. Regardless of their formal training, many engage in less than useful or positive practices. Here is but one example:

Joe, a vice president of sales at a large auto supply company, emails his team. “About the performance appraisals, we all know what’s what. So, there’s no need to meet. I’ll give you a quick call within the next week so we can get them out of the way.

You may not think your team cares, or wants your appraisal.  Yet performance appraisals are an opportunity for both you and your staff members to focus on what they’re doing right – even applaud them – and to coach them on how to improve where needed.

If you received Joe’s type of message in the example above, how appreciated and respected would you feel? How often do leaders, managers, or supervisors make similar mistakes? And—what are the consequences if your pay or promotion is tied to a performance appraisal?

Avoiding Performance Appraisal Pitfalls

If you are responsible for conducting performance appraisal, avoid some of the common mistakes leaders can make:

  • Ensure an employee self-appraisal prior to the performance appraisal.
  • Clarify the relationship between pay and performance.
  • Identify with the employee a few relevant goals, including those related to career development.
  • Be specific on the methods of measuring and monitoring progress.
  • Follow through by checking milestones.
  • Discuss the consequences. For example, list ways in which numerical ratings are related to a raise, bonus, or promotion. Joe, for example, doesn’t believe anyone should get the highest rating because “they won’t be motivated to continue working hard.” Of course, he’s miffed when he didn’t earn the highest rating on his appraisal.

Conducted well, performance reviews can help employee productivity, loyalty, and job satisfaction. However, if the leader or supervisor is lazy, thoughtless, or negative, employees don’t feel valued, trusted, or involved. The climate of the workplace is poisoned.

If you are uncomfortable and avoid conducting performance appraisals, perhaps it is time to use some tips, or to practice with in-house human resource staff or private coach.

Done Right, Performance Appraisals Foster Loyalty and Improved Productivity

Don’t hesitate to get creative when it comes to doing your performance appraisals.  Set the mood as positive and upbeat.  Focus on what that team member is doing right.  When providing constructive feedback on weaker areas, provide metrics – measurable and reachable goals for improvement.  Help your subordinate leave with clarity and inspiration whenever possible.

When you do performance evaluations well your staff members will feel appreciated, acknowledged and that their contributions matter.  This kind of experience breeds loyalty, motivation and enhanced productivity all the way around.


If you want to learn strategies about, or rehearse for performance appraisals, contact Geri at:

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