Performance Appraisal time. What else could you possibly be thinking?
I know, everyone hates them. I hate them too. So, to be helpful, here are some hints for managers and employees.
Tips for Managers
Just sit down and write the darn things. Starting them is the hard part. Just get started and it will take less time then you thought.
Copy and paste from the self-appraisals your employees submitted. If they didn’t submit them this year, make sure they do next year. And have them submit them electronically. I mean, if worker Bob has already written a paragraph about how he truly embodies the company value of “teamwork” and he truly does, just take his paragraph. Then edit it to fit.
Copy and paste from last year’s appraisal. If your employee is still doing the same job, you can use some of the language from the previous year’s appraisal. These are not meant to be literary works of art, they are meant to transmit a message.
Be honest. If Bob is consistently late to work, put it in the appraisal. If Sharon offends clients because she makes snide comments about their clothing, let Sharon know.
On the honesty front, don’t write a glowing appraisal (“Sharon truly embraces quality”) and then give a low overall rating. Be consistent. Point out the good and the bad.
Tell your employees how they can improve. (“Sharon’s thoughtless remarks about other’s attire is holding her back.” “Bob needs to be in the office no later than 8:30.” “Susan needs to consistently format her Excel spreadsheets before submitting.”) Frequently, this is the only guide employees get.
Write actual goals for each employee and then make your own goal to regularly follow up.
E-mail a copy of the finished appraisal to the employee at least a few hours before you meet with her. Why? This will give the employee more time to internalize your comments and your discussion will be meaningful. If you are like most managers, your employees have little idea of what you actually think about their performance. Don’t blindside them.
Tips for Employees
Write your self appraisal. I know, I know, it’s probably too late. Make a note to do so next year. This is your chance to gush on about how wonderful you are. This is also the chance to bring up all the stuff your boss doesn’t know about. (Which, in most cases is a lot. I’m not trying to insult managers, I’m just saying that especially for high performers, you do a lot that your boss doesn’t know about. Let him know.)
If you get a bad appraisal, no weeping. Just as there is no crying in baseball, there should be no crying in a performance appraisal. If your boss blindsides you (he shouldn’t) say, “I wasn’t aware of these issues. I’d like to take time to think about them. Can we meet next week?” And then make sure you do.
Use the performance appraisal as a chance to suck up to your boss. Why not? It can’t hurt and it might help for next year.
If there are no goals, or the goals are unrealistic (Sharon needs to double her client base by February is an unrealistic goal), discuss them now. Theoretically, this is what you will be graded on next year, so get it clear now.
Remember your manager hates these more than you do, so be kind.
If you disagree with your manager’s assessment, take the time to write a response to be included. Don’t whine and say it is not fair. Just document the inconsistences. What good does this do? Well, if you apply for an internal position to work for me, one of the first things I’m going to do is call employee records and get a copy of your previous appraisals. I’d like to hear your side.
Have fun with your appraisals. Fun writing them, fun getting them. And remember, once they are done you can go have some holiday fudge.