Probably the most challenging part of the performance appraisal feedback meeting is giving feedback to our employees on their performance. For performance appraisal feedback to be effective, the recipient of the feedback must accept and utilize the information. Acceptance depends on the source of the information, the nature of the message and the disposition of the recipient.
To ensure that negative performance appraisal feedback is accepted:
- preparing recipient for negative feedback,
- couching negative feedback in positive terms,
- make negative feedback very specific, and
- reinforce negative feedback with examples. Feedback alone is not sufficient to improve performance.
An extensive review of feedback and goal setting studies reveal that both are necessary to improved performance, Ten behaviors that characterize an effective developmental performance appraisal interview are:
- Make comments specific using examples of behaviors,
- Focus on employee behaviors, not the person,
- Give helpful feedback, not hurtful,
- Focus on factors that can be improved or changed,
- Share information, don’t give advice,
- Encourage the employee to solicit information rather than impose it upon him/he,
- Avoid information overload. Point out only a few, most critical problems,
- Establish specific, agreed-upon goals for improvement, and
- Ensure communication clarity in both directions.
What is Performance Appraisal?
Performance appraisal is a process and a means of setting goals, measuring and enhancing individual and organizational performance. An effective performance appraisal process has the following characteristics:
- A connection to organizational and departmental mission and goals.
- Clearly defined expectations of performance
- A focus on performance as well as professional development
- Ongoing process versus an annual event
- Consistent and timely usage and completion
- A focus more on future direction than past performance
- Involves staff member in the process
Performance Appraisal Feedback: Benefits of Positive & Constructive Feedback
The most effective organizations work to establish a culture of development, where people at all levels are encouraged to help others develop their skills. Providing positive and constructive performance appraisal feedback is a critical component.
- Clarify expectations; assure the individual is on the right track
- Assess and discuss the relevance of goals and their measures
- Improve communication between individuals, particularly supervisor and employee
- Opportunity to learn about ourselves and how we interact with others
- Opportunity to develop ourselves and be the best we can be
- Assist in making “early corrections”
- No surprises later
It is the manager’s role and responsibility to give feedback to others. They are responsible for managing employees’ job performance, holding them accountable for completing their assigned tasks, and coaching or counseling them to overcome barriers or improve performance. Performance Appraisal Feedback should be given with the intention of praising positive behavior and performance, ensuring that the employee understands the expectations, or identifying areas of development.
Leaders must be willing to provide both praise and constructive feedback to others, regardless of reporting lines. All employees should be willing and able to do the same. If a peer, another employee, or even a senior leader is engaging in behaviors which are detrimental to patrons/customers, other employees, or the organization, we need to let them know the impact of their behavior.
Performance Appraisal Feedback should be:
- Individualized to fit the specific person and situation;
- Focused on the behavior or action you are concerned with, not on the person or their personality;
- Delivered in a timely fashion, as soon as possible after the positive or negative action and before the next performance.
Characteristics of Useful Performance Appraisal Feedback
How we prepare to give performance appraisal feedback to others will vary depending on the quality and history of our relationship. Most people in management are well aware of their relationships with their employees and usually accept their responsibility to provide feedback on a regular basis.
However, giving performance appraisal feedback to supervisors is another story. Some people in management may not realize the potential negative impact of their behaviors on others. When they request feedback, we may have an opportunity to offer our input. For some of us, it is extremely difficult to give constructive criticism to a person in authority. First, we must consider how this information will help them and the business. If we stay focused on what is best for the business, we may summon the courage to speak up. Many people in management appreciate such candor.
In any case, careful planning is necessary. Performance appraisal feedback is most useful when it is:
- Given with care and attention – To be useful, feedback requires the giver to feel concern for the person receiving the feedback – to want to help rather than hurt the recipient. It is important for the giver to pay careful attention to what they are doing while giving feedback. This promotes a two-way exchange with some depth of communication.
- Expressed directly – Good feedback is specific; it clearly describes observable behavior and specific incidents. Making general or vague comments about an issue is of little value. The most useful feedback is direct, open and concrete.
- Expressed fully – Effective feedback requires more than a statement of facts. “Feelings” reactions, if appropriate, also need to be expressed so that the recipient can judge the full impact of their behavior.
- Uncluttered by evaluative judgments – Feedback is most helpful when it does not consist of judgments or evaluations, such as assuming the other person’s motivations or intentions. If judgments must be included, the giver should first state clearly that these are matters of subjective evaluation and then describe the situation as they see it.
- Well-timed – The most useful feedback is given when the recipient is receptive to it and it is sufficiently close to the particular event being discussed for it to be fresh in their mind. Stockpiling comments over time can lead to a buildup of recriminations that reduces the effectiveness of the feedback when it is finally given.
- Easily acted on – The most useful performance appraisal feedback deals with behavior that can be changed by the recipient. Feedback concerning matters outside the recipient’s control is not often useful. It is helpful to suggest alternative ways of behaving that allow the recipient to think about new ways of tackling old problems.
The guidelines below are provided to help supervisors develop their own approach and style of performance appraisal feedback. Conducting the discussion is the critical step. It can have an important bearing on future relationships and will profoundly influence a supervisor’s ability to motivate future performance. The following are guidelines provided to help supervisors develop their own style and methods.
Performance Appraisal Feedback: Planning the Appraisal Discussion
Take time to prepare yourself for the performance appraisal feedback session. By following these tips, you can ensure a successful interaction in which both parties are fully satisfied.
- Identify the main points of the review and discussion. What must be said and what conclusions must be reached?
- Be aware of the staff member’s past experience, education, work history, and other related information.
- Review the staff member’s strengths and weaknesses, and any circumstances that may have contributed to the performance.
- Review notes from the last appraisal discussion, particularly with respect to the Future Plans and Development section.
- Review the job description and performance standards, noting any changes which should be made, and establish preliminary performance standards for the new rating period.
- What is the difference between what was expected and what has occurred?
- What facts, records, and events are available to support the evaluation?
Setting the Stage
- Prepare notes to help guide the discussion.
- Schedule an appointment with the staff member in advance.
- Suggest the staff member prepare a list of accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses.
- Arrange for a suitable meeting place where it is quiet, relaxed, and private.
- Review all materials and information gathered.
- Bring a “draft” not a final copy of the Performance Appraisal.
Performance Appraisal Feedback: Conducting the Appraisal Feedback Session
Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and explain the ground rules and the process. Tell staff member what can come out of meeting, including future assignments, clear communication, and increased duties. Minimize the negative connotations of “evaluation,” “rating,” and “records of evidence.” Help the staff member feel at ease and receptive.
Follow these ten tips when communicating performance appraisal feedback:
- Explain and discuss the Performance Appraisal form
- Avoid making the rating form and specific ratings the principal issue of the discussion
- Avoid criticism of personality or personal traits
- Use hypothetical questions to help staff member search out underlying problems and solutions
- Don’t cross-examine; allow staff member to speak (voicing opinions and feelings; making plans for self-improvement; discussing job-related problems)
- List disagreements, don’t gloss over them; use listening skills to separate facts from opinions and to shift from details to major points or problems
- Explain ratings proposed for each of the staff member’s key responsibilities; cite specific examples
- Come prepared with clear, understandable (written) statements which express expectations concerning future changes in performance; agree on process to monitor areas requiring change with on-going and specific target-dated reviews (Areas for Improvement section)
- Be prepared to make development commitments which are appropriate and feasible to support necessary changes in behavior; discuss plans for staff member’s self-development and how these relate to performance expectations (Future Plans and Development Activities section)
- As appropriate, discuss advancement opportunities and how the staff member can achieve career goals; include in this discussion the specific knowledge, skills, and experience the staff member must acquire in order to advance; agree on specific methods for acquiring them (Future Plans and Development Activities section)
Closing the Performance Appraisal Feedback Discussion
It is important to conclude the discussion on a positive note. Discuss plans to build on strengths and correct weaknesses to enhance future performance. Conclude with a summary of the main points of the discussion and inform the staff member of the option to respond to the appraisal in the “Employee Comments and Recommendations” section.
Have staff member sign the form if he/she does not wish to add any comments; OR set a mutually agreeable date for signing the final form, incorporating any changes, and including any comments made by the staff