Annual Appraisals are being conducted less and less in small to medium sized businesses. Instead companies are choosing to have ongoing performance reviews.
A common question HR experts find themselves faced with is “Do I have to give my staff appraisals?” usually asked by frustrated employers. Those in the HR industry tend to believe that appraisals either carry no merit or offer no progressive outcome – in the case of the majority of employers, it can seem to be a meaningless exercise.
Unfortunately, despite this way of thinking a properly conducted appraisal can lead to an increase in employee performance and even increased overall office morale. All that is required is commitment from the appraiser and a strict process to ensure results.
Are you legally required to conduct an appraisal?
No, you are not legally required to appraise your employees. However, if you were to dismiss a member of your staff in the future for poor performance, you’ll find it difficult without a recorded performance review or formal appraisal. This is due to the fact that there will be no documentation of the issues that the employee has caused.
The employee may be unaware of their mistakes and shortcomings and the appraisal may well help them progress and address the concerns you have. Also, should your company find itself in the unfortunate position of making redundancies, appraisal scores may highlight staff members you can afford to lose.
The biggest issue that employers will have is that a large proportion of managers will avoid a difficult conversation. If the employee argues that they are being unfairly scored, those conducting the appraisal must explain that they have scored the employee honestly and justify their findings professionally. If not then the process will become meaningless and there will be no beneficial discussion with all employees receiving similar scores.
Should you conduct annual appraisals or ongoing performance reviews?
Annual appraisals arguably give the impression of a box-ticking exercise for HR. The discussions that took place in the past may have been forgotten and the business could have possibly grown in a way that the original feedback given 12 months prior is no longer relevant. Your staff are more likely to benefit from an ongoing approach that creates a structure for your staff and better monitors employee progress.
Managers aren’t necessarily familiar with conducting appraisals and it is vital that both parties know from the start; what it is they are doing, why they are doing it and how they will achieve the desired outcome (both employee and manager are aware of any positives and negatives related to that staff member’s employment). Training is sometimes essential in achieving these goals.
Preparation is key with appraisals, ensuring that the employee completes a self-assessment of where they believe they are and the manager should complete a pre-appraisal form. This will allow both the positives and negatives to be core to the conversation and similarly provide a basic structure to the process.
Moreover, targets are an essential part of the appraisal process; knowing an employee has met their target and how they achieved it demonstrates progress on behalf of the employee and recognition from the employer/manager. It is also important to make a note of the skills used to meet their targets and how their performance can be improved in the future.
It’s important that you allocate time for the employee to have their say. This allows more honest discussion and productive conversation.
The regular performance review format is more useful here as opposed to the annual appraisal. After each ‘mini’ appraisal you should agree on some objectives (no more than five) and instead of filing the report away for a further 12 months, monitor the progress of these objectives throughout the year.