Naturally, you need to make them work for you, and although you’ll want to think about what level of formality suits your organisation, the same general principles of assessment of the past and planning for the future will apply.
Although it’s certainly true of most situations that there’s no substitute for good preparation (familiarising yourself with the job role and expected standards of performance relevant to that role and that individual), probably the easiest hurdle to fall at is that final one – that of following up the actions that are decided at the meeting.
Obviously if you don’t implement the decisions you’ve made during the appraisal meeting, your company won’t see the improvements you’d hoped to bring about. Worse, employees may lose interest, and job satisfaction could be damaged, particularly if they feel their effort (both in preparing for the meeting and in the period of time since their last appraisal) has been wasted. Failing to follow the meeting up can give them the impression that you don’t have any genuine interest in their role or their advancement.
It’s therefore vital that you record the assessment of the employee's contribution, potential and development needs, so that you have a ready-made plan of action, and objectives to review next time around. Make that plan clear and simple, and although it’s useful to assess some elements with tick boxes, combine this with written sections for any specific comments that need to be recorded.
Don’t forget that appraisals should always be positive and the main focus should be on development for the future. Although you’ll review past performance, don’t fall into the trap of having your meeting become a disciplinary or investigatory hearing by another name; if you’re having problems with the employee’s performance, any necessary disciplinary action should be in hand separately.
Finally, to make sure that the appraisal process works for you, and more importantly keeps working for you, ensure that you have the discussion meetings take place regularly, as it’s easy to lose momentum or lose sight of goals if too much time passes between points when you assess how things are going.
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