Conducting Effective Appraisals – Do Your Appraisals Just Tick the Box?

Performance Appraisals form part of many organisations push to drive performance, but have they lost their appeal?  Have they just become a tick in the box exercise?  Are they just done because the have to be?  Are they no longer driving performance?

The thing is, Appraisals are perceived to be a long drawn out process that don’t really lead to anything, especially if they are not linked to performance related pay or bonus.  But, even if they are not linked to anything, they should still be seen as a vitally important process in any business for many different reasons, here are just a few:

1.  They allow you to measure whether everyone in the business is pushing to achieve the organisations objectives.

2.  They help the business to identify training and development gaps, meaning you can focus your training budget on the right areas.

3.  Used in the right way they can be very motivational for people, therefore driving high performance and productivity.

4.  It’s a great way to identify top performers in the business who may be ready to move onto the next level, or on the opposite side, where your areas of risk are that may leave you short of expertise if an individual or group of people leave the business.

5.  It shows employees that the business is investing time in them.

So, why do Appraisals just become a tick in the box exercise?  Simple, the meaning behind them has just been lost.  People don’t clearly understand what the purpose of Appraisals are.  It may be that the business has done them for years and they have just lost their appeal, or they were introduced into the business without any real strategy or thought – just a ‘we’ll do them because we should be doing them’.

The first stage to any successful Appraisal process is to identify and clearly communicate the purpose of Appraisals.  This should be instilled throughout everyone, and thought of as a positive process rather then a tick in the box or a big stick to hit people with.

Every person in the business, from the Chief Executive to the people on the front line to the Finance Director to the Support Functions should have clearly defined annual or 6 monthly objectives.  These objectives should be derived from the overall business objectives.  It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people in businesses small or large are not aware of what the businesses objectives are.  If this is not the case and they don’t see the bigger picture, there can be a real lack of sense of meaning.  If people understand what the business is trying to achieve, this leads to a real feeling of engagement and a drive to achieve these objectives.

Objectives should be SMART and be agreed, not forced or told.  People need to feel part of the process, not the process dictating to them.

Making sure you are conducting effective appraisals is also key.  Using coaching and listening skills to involve the person in the process, asking what they will do to achieve their objectives rather than telling them what to do.

So, next time to carry out an appraisal, ask yourself – do I think great, that’s them done for this year, or do you think great, that’s the start of the process for this year.

You may also find this post useful – Appraising the Appraisal System

Need some help with carrying out Appraisals?  Take a look at our Appraisal Skills Training Course.