Strategies for effective performance appraisals

Saturday, December 7th, 2019 09:12 |

 By Samson Osero

Whenever performance reviews are conducted employees want to know, “What does my performance evaluation mean for me financially?”

Although many companies try to break the link between salary and performance reviews, it may possibly not be far-fetched to say more money could be what is in the minds of employees of organisations whose financial year closes on December 31 and spent  last two months undertaking annual staff performance appraisals. 

The outcomes of appraisals serve a number of purposes including determination of next year’s salary increases and identification of staff training needs. However, appraisals have sometimes raised eye brows whenever their results do not reflect the comparative performance amongst same level staff members. Others have provided useful information that feed forward to the following year’s planning for productivity improvement. Here are ways of making staff performance appraisals not only effective but also relevant to staff’s future development. 

Set work objectives

Employees are expected at the beginning of each year to develop measurable work objectives to be agreed with their immediate supervisors. Ordinarily, the work objectives are derived from the departmental objectives which in turn arise from overall corporate goals and targets. It is important to synchronise the objectives of the three levels for meaningful year-end appraisals. The developed objectives may be subjected to reviews whenever unforeseen circumstances arise. Dynamic objective setting would make organisations respond to market forces that threaten businesses. 

Undertake periodic reviews

Firms have been accused of undertaking annual performance appraisals as unavoidable end-year rituals which do not reflect employees’ actual work performance. Some people have likened them to public examinations which ignore the continuous class performance of candidates. Organisations can improve existing performance management systems by providing for periodic performance assessments. During the monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly reviews, employees’ identified areas of improvement would be pointed out for immediate rectification. This approach reduces situations where supervisors surprise employees at the end of the year with work issues whose time for resolution is over.

Train appraisers   

The annual staff appraisal exercises are conducted better by supervisors who have been trained on performance management compared to those left on their own to subjectively dish out ratings. The latter group for lack of appraisal skills has sometimes ended up checking with concerned employees before awarding the appeasing final grades. The purpose of assessing work performance would be flatly defeated when not based on understood parameters. Before rolling out the appraisal process, HR is expected to debrief the line managers and supervisors to promote fairness instead of perceived favouritism. 

Relevant measurement tool

Organisations that use common annual staff appraisal forms for all employees regardless of their cadre are put on the spot for rating irrelevant factors. For example, it would be misleading to assess junior factory workers on leadership capability when they are not charged with any supervisory responsibilities. For effective performance evaluation, firms are expected to use relevant staff appraisal forms for each level of employees.    

Discuss appraisal ratings 

Beyond determining employees’ overall performance grades, the appraisers need to hold one-on-one discussions on the results with appraisees. Employees require information on the specific improvement areas that shall enhance their future work performance. The discussions will provide employees with an opportunity to either agree or disagree with the ratings. On accepting or disputing the ratings, employees append their signatures to staff appraisal forms for record purposes.

The writer is HRD Consultant and Author of Transition into Retirement. [email protected]       

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