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11 Tips when conducting a Performance Appraisal Conversation

ODC performance management
Appraisal Conversation

Performance appraisal is a crucial element of the performance management process and an important managerial competency that can help drive alignments of behaviours and employee development. For the appraised or appraisees, it is entails more than a detailed feedback, it is a step that can determine promotion, bonus, salary increment and the future of their own career within the company.

Hence, for both the managers and staff, the stakes are high and it can be stressful especially if the manager is not sufficiently prepared for conversation. It is an increasingly important to recognise that performance appraisal conversation is a managerial responsibilities, and good managers and leaders engages with staff periodically on areas that drives their performance. The benefits of this approach are many, one of which is that staff do not receive a shock of their poor performance or development areas only during the performance appraisal conversation.

Even if you are checking in with your staff regularly, the performance appraisal conversation is an equally important conversation to review their annual performance, the achievements, the development areas, the areas to stop, continue doing, to improve. ODC is pleased to share the following 11 pointers for the managers to adopt for an effective performance performance appraisal.

#1 Be Prepared for the performance Appraisal Conversation

Take ownership of the performance appraisal conversation. Set a date with your staff on the meeting details and send a calendar invite to block out the date and time. Review the performance of the employee throughout the 12 months. A good way to start could be the meeting minutes, email, reports. running through your emails, notes, reports, key observations or key incidents throughout the 12 months with the staff that is being assessed. I would recommend to have a writing pad to note down key incidents or observations across the 12 months before reviewing it in totality so that we will not be affected by recency effects. Your efforts on this would demonstrate to the staff that you place a lot of emphasis on this performance appraisal conversations, and more importantly provide you with the details of their performance throughout the year.

#2 Staff complete a self-evaluation of performance.

To encourage an active participation in this performance conversation, it is important to let your staff review on their performance and do self-evaluation about their performance. to prepare themselves. You can also invite them to input their justifications of their own rating. This can be discussed during the performance appraisal conversation for alignment.

#3 Be Present

As a manager, you need to be present. It is important that you set the context of this performance appraisal conversation to review performance and to align workplace behaviours. Highlight that you are interested in their self evaluation, and you have also collated their notable performance for discussions (See #1). Hence, During the session, avoid checking your email on the laptop, replying messages on your phone. show interest during the performance appraisal. Discussions, invite the staff to share their views and before sharing your assessments objectively with facts and evidence gathered.

#4 Be Objective Throughout the Interview

During the performance appraisal conversation, what matters most is the subject of your employee’s performance. It would be best to focus on that and no other things else. Do not provide biased opinions or hearsay from other colleagues that are not substantiated with evidence or anecdotes.

#5 Avoid Being Aggressive or Defensive

An effective performance appraisal conversation happens when both the appraised and the appraiser can achieve a common way forward. This happens when the managers understands the appraiser’s workplace challenges and the appraised in turn understands and accepts the expectations of the managers. This is where managers needs to demonstrate their communications and empathy skills during the performance appraisal conversation. Often times, making biased conclusion or insensitive judgement prior to empathising the staff’s challenge would cause the staff to experience a ‘flight-or-fight’ moment. This aggressive communication style and lead towards a downward spiral where staff no longer engages in meaningful conversation.

#6 Start the Conversation with ‘I felt ’, and Not ‘YOU should’

The best way to point out the staff’s weakness(es) or problem(s) to them; is to start the conversation with the phrase ‘I felt that.’ This will make them feel better even though you are pointing out their mistakes. For example, the staff is late for work most of the time. You can say something like, “Punctuality and commitment to deadline is an important for our company because we want to show our customers our trustworthiness and reliability. And on occasion 1, 2 and 3, you did not submit the report on time. This is despite your assurance that the report will be submitted on time when check in with you each time. I felt disappointed, that you did not honour our agreement.”

#7 Be Collaborative

Adopt a collaborative mindset that as a manager, your role is to help the staff discover how they can support themselves to improve. As a manager we will have to be prescriptive in providing directions and openly state poor behaviours that staff needs to stop doing, however there are also areas that we need to support our staff to uncover areas that they can support their own development. Hence, conduct the performance appraisals with the mindset that you want to help your staff achieve the best results for their next performance appraisal conversation. Tell them what their strengths are, as well as the development areas that you need them to improve. Invite the staff to share what they can do and explore developments that can be undertaken by themselves or the development opportunities provided by the company.

#8 Be Polite

During the performance appraisal conversations, tension may rise but never lose your temper or talk to your staff in a condescending tone. You can initiate a short break during the appraisal conversation and reconvene after both you and the staff are able to cool down by suggesting “Lets have a short break, as I felt both of us are worked up and I don’t want this appraisal conversation to be continued with this tone. Let’s reconvene in 5 minutes”

#9 Review the findings with the staff

After doing the performance appraisals, confirm your ratings or findings with the staff. In some organisations, where there is not such practice of confirming the ratings or where the ratings can be adjusted after moderations, it is important to highlight to the staff, the findings through the conversation. As a manager you can start first by sharing what you learnt more about the staff or their workplace challenges today, and invite the same from the staff.

#10 Ask the Candidate to Suggest Ways for Improvement

As mentioned earlier, you need to be collaborative throughout the meeting. You can also invite the staff to share if this performance appraisal conversation is useful for them and invite them to suggest ways for improvement so that this performance appraisal conversation can be improved. Do take down notes, so that next time you hold the appraisal conversation with this staff, you can make the necessary adjustment.

#11 Always End with a note of Appreciation

Conclude the performance appraisal conversation with an positive note to appreciate the candidate. You can highlight their strengths and simply thank them for taking time for this performance appraisal conversation or being present and being open to the discussions.

So, there you have the 11 ways to conduct an effective performance appraisal.

If you are looking to enhance your manager's skillset in performance management click here :

If you are looking for Skillsfuture courses, you can refer the following links to check out ODC's WSQ courses :


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