While most supervisors could communicate praises and give good ratings to their subordinates, some may feel uncomfortable telling employees that their performance is poor. This is only natural, especially if one is a young supervisor or new in the position.
A supervisor need not feel uncomfortable if he or she is well prepared to lead the performance review which is also known as the appraisal session.
How to Conduct the Performance Review
First and foremost, set aside a suitable date and time for the review and inform the employee. Priority and commitment given will ensure a fruitful outcome. Arranging a session at short notice or postponing a scheduled session at the last minute will not reflect well on the supervisor.
A few simple pointers could help the performance appraiser conduct an effective review with each subordinate.
Starting the appraisal session punctually is important. As soon as the employee steps into the meeting room, ensure that the employee feels welcomed. Being the subordinate, he or she could be feeling apprehensive or even defensive, as the supervisor is the one ultimately making the call on the employee’s performance. Most human relations experts would recommend breaking the ice by starting with small talk.
Explain the agenda for the review:
After the initial rapport building, the supervisor could explain exactly how the appraisal session would proceed. This sets the tone and brings into focus the objectives of the performance appraisal. In case the session becomes heated later through disagreements, the appraiser could fall back on the agenda and regain control of the meeting. The agenda may include the following:
To evaluate employee work performance during the organization’s fiscal year
To address strengths and identify areas for improvement
To set objectives and goals for the following year (if the current appraisal cycle is ending)
Question and answer
It is also important for the supervisor to highlight that the review is strictly on the basis of work performance and not on him or her personally. As the discussion is objective, the employee is encouraged to be open minded as well.
During the performance review:
The supervisor may include a brief detailing the performance of the department and the company in general. Ideally each employee should have a job description, as in the case of most multinational corporations. In the absence of one, recap on the employee’s job function and responsibilities. This would help the employee understand and see how important or crucial his or her good performance on the job could affect the operations of the organization.
Next, evaluate the employee’s performance on the basis of data by using a performance review document. Most organizations would have a review document and it is not difficult to design one if needed.
The review data could include information collected through reports that show daily production, project deadlines missed or met, feedback from customers or colleagues from other departments that have working relationships with the employee. It is easier to compliment achievements and discuss the strengths of the employee. If weaknesses are noted, a discussion to help the employee improve performance with a reasonable time frame set is strongly recommended.
Most employees may also want to know about their career paths during the review. Opportunities for upward mobility may be limited in some organizations. The key is never to give false hopes of a promotion or a bigger bonus as some supervisors may do so in order to retain the employee in the job. By understanding the employee’s ambition, alternatives like training, in-country and overseas posting and job rotation could be considered to prepare the subordinate for future job openings available.
Lastly, work with the employee to set goals and objectives for the following fiscal year. Most training experts would advocate using the S.M.A.R.T. concept to help employees write their goal statements. Basically, statements should state goals that are Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. This has the benefit of setting the right expectations from the onset.
Finally, thank the employee for his or her contributions. Do end the meeting with a positive note and indicate the date of the next review in accordance with the organization’s policy.
Performance Review Document and Dispute Resolution
There will be situations where employees feel that their performance is unfairly rated or that the supervisor’s evaluation is biased. Disagreement over performance ratings could be resolved with the supervisor’s superior or a member of the senior management team as mediator using the organization’s basic dispute resolution or grievance handling guidelines.
As such, it is important that employee performance be documented over time in a review document. Measurements such as key performance indicators, critical success factors, key result areas including set goals are normally reflected in the review document. In a disagreement, this document could serve as the basis for an amicable settlement of the perceived unfair evaluation.
If an organization takes staff performance review seriously, it would have its human resources department put in place a review document and have its appraisers trained to use it.
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