Is your service due?

Appraisal. Performance discussion. Yearly evaluation. Annual review.

Whatever you call it, this is the time of year when you, as the manager, get the opportunity to assess your employees’ performances during the previous year.

Before you sigh wearily, with yet another “thing to do” – don’t!

This really is a blessing (albeit that you might think it’s very well disguised!)

When you have a piece of technical equipment, like a company car or a piece of factory machinery, you get it regularly serviced, to make sure it’s working properly & ‘delivering/producing’ what you need it to do. Sometimes this is a legal requirement, to ensure safety. So why wouldn’t you do this for your most expensive piece of “equipment” – your staff? Your salary bill is probably the biggest expense you have. How do you know if you’re getting a good return on your investment if you don’t do regular checks?

Want to do these discussions in the most efficient way? Follow these 5 hints and you’ll get them done in no time at all. (Note – if you’ve not done these before, don’t worry. Just start now, with some objectives you can review next year).

Hint 1: Make sure your job descriptions are relevant

You can’t do these properly without a job description, otherwise you’ll have no basis for comparison. If you haven’t got job descriptions for your staff, BHR can help with that and give your appraisal process the positive start it needs. Once they’re ready, send it to the individual, so they can do their part of the process. Speaking of which…

Hint 2: Get them to do the work

No that’s not a typo. Part of being an employee is taking responsibility for your job. They need to assess their own performance, so you can get a clearer understanding of what they’re thinking and their approach to the job you’ve given them.

Use simple forms. Essentially, you want to get their opinion about the previous year, then you want to have an honest discussion about that with them about that, then you give your opinion. Three steps – done. (And of course, if you want to tweak the form – go for it. It’s your form for your business. We’re here to help if you need it).

Your staff need to participate just as much as you in this process. They may want your help, but remember not to take over or allow them to use your opinions as a way of avoiding giving their own.

Hint 3: Set a deadline

Let’s face it, we all work better when there’s a deadline we need to meet. If you’re really committed to finding out how well your employees are performing and what value they are contributing to your business, then don’t procrastinate. Give yourself a realistic but tough deadline. The sooner you get this information, the sooner you can act on it to grow your business.

Hint 4: Everyone’s different

What do you need this job to be doing? Are they (on the whole) delivering that? If they are, what are they doing well & how can you capitalise on this? If not, do they need help? Perhaps they’re a great employee in the wrong job? Or are they just not doing the job because they don’t want to? When setting objectives, remember everyone brings something different to their job. Try and play to their strengths where possible, even if it’s only in the way they do their work. As long as what they do, and how they do it, is professional and gets the job done, then try not to worry if it’s not the way you or others might work. Stick to broad objectives rather than details.

Think of their performance across the year, not in the last 3 months or so. It’s really important that you DON’T focus on, or talk about, particular mistakes made during the year. These should be dealt with separately. You need information which gives you a broad picture and limiting your discussion to these types of things won’t provide you with much useful evidence for your wider understanding of your staffing.

Hint 5: Don’t do annual appraisals

Eh?! After all this talk, I’m now telling you not to do annual appraisals?!

Many organisations are now realising that conducting this process annually isn’t really helpful in providing the evidence they need to decide how best to use their staff to improve their business performance. These organisations cite problems such as ‘recency bias’ (where it’s difficult to recall what happened in the early part of the previous year). They also highlight the issue of the anxiety caused to staff in the build-up to the annual discussion, which ironically reduces the individual’s motivation and performance. These interviews can become defensive as the manager may raise issues of which the employee was not aware, and rather than a tool for improving performance and business growth, it turns into a demoralising and negative experience for both the manager and the employee with little opportunity of growth for either party.

Instead of an annual event, many companies are switching to a more ‘keeping up to date’ approach. In this scenario, managers hold quarterly or even monthly ‘mini-appraisals’ where they can check progress and encourage improvements along the way. This is a more proactive method than having to wait until the end of the year and find out things have or have not been done, which can only be reactive. These meetings can take less time than an annual review and give the manager ‘real-time’ information on the state of their staff.

BHR (UK) LTD provide ad-hoc and regular HR support to small businesses. If you need help, email me today ([email protected]) to book your free consultation.

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