Conducting Performance Appraisals

Posted: November 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
Performance Appraisals are one of the most important ways of evaluating and measuring the performance of the Human Resources (the most important asset) of every organization.

 
 

Last week, we discussed performance planning and contracting.  We identified the determination of key performance indicators for each job as an essential part of the performance planning process.  After planning our performance management process and determining key performance indicators for each job, then we are ready to measure or evaluate the performance of employees engaged to do the job.  Performance appraisals methods or systems are defined by the number of people who evaluate the employee.

In a typical 180 degree appraisal system, employees are evaluated by their peers, customers and immediate superior.  In a 360 degree performance appraisal system, an employee is appraised by all the above as well as a subordinate.  The most common though is the 90 degree appraisal system where the employee is appraised by only the immediate superior.  The type of system chosen depends on the objectives of an organization for evaluating employee performance in the workplace.

1.    Performance Appraisals Training:
The first step to conducting performance appraisals is training employees in the specific processes that will apply to them.  Because specific performance appraisal techniques are unique to every organization, it is only fair for employees to be made aware or exposed to the specific methodologies that will apply to their performance evaluation.  For example, employees will need to know who will be appraising them and what exactly will be appraised.  They must know how to complete the applicable performance appraisal forms and other processes.  Employees must know that they have a right of appeal if they disagree with their performance appraisal results.  An employee should also know about the appraisals period.

A performance appraisal training for employees is normally a one day affair.  And in our professional opinion while taking productivity into consideration, one day should suffice for such training.  When employees have been adequately informed about the performance appraisals processes that apply to them, the next step will be to hold the performance contracting meeting.

2.    The Performance Contracting Meeting:
This meeting is normally called the performance appraisal conference.  This is a meeting between the employee to be appraised and his/her direct supervisor, the appraiser.  The aim of the meeting is to agree on the appraisal period, clarify issues about the appraisal forms to be completed and most importantly agree on the specific measurable tasks of the employee.  It is also important at the performance appraisal meeting to agree on the development goals of the employee for evaluation.

Why is the performance appraisal conference also called a performance contracting meeting?  It is because anything agreed at the meeting is considered binding on the employee.  Failure to attain or achieve the agreed terms of the meeting regarding performance standards, goals and objective most definitely leads to some form of penalty for the employee.  Therefore, it is important to record everything said during the performance contracting meeting or conference.  Minutes of the meeting are normally taken as record for future reference.  The minutes should be signed by both the employee and his/her supervisor as confirmation of agreement with the contents of the minutes.

The performance appraisal conference or meeting should be held at the beginning of the appraisal period.  After this is done, then we are ready to conduct the performance appraisal proper.

3.    Keeping a ‘Black’ Book:
The black book is a proverbial name for any book in which records of employees’ unacceptable behaviour is kept.  Rather than use the black book to keep records of employee wrongs, I like to use it to record the good things as well.  So that employees’ exceptional performance over the appraisal period should also be recorded in a special book.  Anything that is noted as extreme for good or bad performance should be recorded.  When recorded, it is easy to fill out the performance appraisal forms accurately and into more detail at the end of the appraisal period.  A supervisor or manager should be able to defend employee appraisal ratings with specific circumstances and details of occurrences that led to the ratings.

So, in keeping such records, also record time and dates on which specific things happened.  If an employee was rude on a particular day, it should be recorded.  However, if an employee was exceptionally friendly to a customer and got a commendation from the customer, that should also be recorded.   The name black as in the black book could be named anything.  It could be a white book or yellow book or anything.  The essence of keeping such a book is to keep records of important occurrences in the workplace that affect employee ratings during performance appraisals.  The appraisal period could be three, six or twelve months depending on the type of appraisal system adopted by an organization.

4.    Conducting the performance appraisal:
The appraisals or performance evaluation process is undertaken at the end of the appraisal period.  Appraisal forms are distributed by the HR department to supervisors and employees.  The supervisor as well as the employee must complete the form within  the same timeframe.  There should usually be a deadline for completing appraisal forms presented to employees and their supervisors.  The performance appraisal process has been unsuccessful in some organizations because of the sheer volume of information to be provided and hence the amount of time needed to complete the form.  A simple one page form or two pages at the most should be used in appraisal processes.  This reduces time taken to complete the form so that managers and supervisors will not see the performance appraisal process as a deliberate waste of their time.

Once the employee and his/her supervisor have completed the appraisal forms, they are expected to hold a joint appraisals meeting to go through their ratings and agree on the scores and final performance evaluation outcomes.  At this appraisal meeting also, records or minutes should be taken and signed for confirmation of agreement or acceptance.  One week should be enough for completing the appraisal forms as well as holding the appraisal meeting.  After the meeting, the results as agreed are communicated together with the completed forms to the HR department.

5.    Performance Appraisal Appeals:
When employees and the supervisor agree on performance ratings in the appraisal meeting, it is very good news.  But that is the ideal situation.  Realistically, there is bound to be many disagreements.  Where the appraisal process is seen as biased, not objective, victimizing and favours some over others, then there cannot be agreement.  This is one of the reasons why employees and their supervisors must keep record of the things that occurred during the appraisal period as record for the appraisal meeting.  Hence at the meeting, a supervisor for example can refer to dates, times and specific periods when certain things occurred to result in a particular rating.  But of course, singular occurrences such as one wrong should not wipe away several rights in performance ratings.

When there is disagreement, there must be a body such as an appraisals appeals committee or group of individuals where issues in disagreement can be referred and settled.  Where there is any form of disagreement, the aggrieved party within a specific time frame (3days, 7days, 14days, 21days) should have the opportunity to appeal against his/her appraisal results by giving specific reasons and arguments for appropriate investigation and settlement.  Appeals processes are missing from most appraisals systems as practiced in organizations in Ghana.

An employee has the right to appeal against appraisal results and must be given such an opportunity.  Remember, appraisal outcomes have the potential to lead to termination or some punitive measures against an employee where the employee is found to have performed below expectation.  So there you have it.  Next week, we shall discuss the processes for managing performance and behaviour using performance appraisal results.

info@coaims.com

 

Source: BFT

 

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