With the right approach, appraisals can be an opportunity to show your employees that they are valued. These exchanges recognise achievements and support the development of the individual, in ways that align with the company goals.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Why now is a good time for appraisals
Are some or all of your team are preparing to return to the workplace? Will others continue to work remotely? It might seem hard to make sure all staff are treated equally. Over the last year, there may have been multiple changes in the way the business operates and the work environment. Your employees are likely to feel a mix of emotions about returning or adapting to the new ways of working.
Restrictions are lifting and so now is the ideal time to arrange appraisals. These structured 1:1 discussion can help everyone to feel prepared. They increase the chance of a smooth back to work transition and effective remote working.
Appraisals: An important exchange
Appraisals should be welcomed as an important exchange to build trust, understanding and motivation. If you have yet to instigate appraisals within your company or dread the experience, these tips will be helpful.
1. An appraisal is a two-way collaboration
An appraisal is a focused discussion and therefore a chance to be open and honest for the benefit of the employee and employer. Giving both parties time to prepare will mean they get more from the experience. It’s an opportunity to engage with and learn from, each other.
Make sure you are asking open questions, rather than stating opinions and actively listening to the response. Prompt them to continue the conversation, rather than jumping in with a reply, as it can take time for individuals to open up.
2. Use the appraisal to focus on the future
The start of the appraisal can be a reflection on the past, but the majority of time should be spent considering the future. We can’t change what has already occurred, but we can take actions that influence future success.
When looking back, the focus should be on recognising achievements and how that individual’s skills have contributed to team success.
Looking forward, aim to inspire and empower the employee to make the best use of their skills, experience and knowledge and therefore, to support their personal goals and the company goals. How would they like you and others in the company to support them? Can you identify opportunities for them to take actions so that they can get closer to their goals? Can they see opportunities to support others?
3. Aim to resolve issues
No workplace or employee is perfect and, in some cases, an appraisal is an appropriate time to discuss issues. They may come from either party and can be emotive. A solution-focused approach will keep the conversation from becoming personal, defensive and unhelpful.
Where possible, use facts not opinions when discussing points and consider what could be in place to improve or resolve the issue. These might include training, flexible working, provision of equipment or mentoring.
4. Be professional throughout the appraisal
As you want to encourage honesty and collaboration, appraisals shouldn’t be an overly formal procedure. Having said this, professionalism is important. You can set the right tone by:
- Scheduling a date and time in the calendar and clearing all other appointments
- Using branded appraisal documents that illustrate that this is an important interaction
- Remove disruptions and distractions from meetings (in person or remotely)
- Actively listening to and accepting the other’s opinion, even if you disagree
- Ensuring that the content of the discussion remains confidential
- Not allowing honesty to have a negative impact on either party
- Thanking the other party for their time
5. Take action
The final stage of the appraisal is to agree on specific actions that have come to the fore through the appraisal. Clarify who is responsible for the action, assign a realistic timeframe and specify how completion of the action will be communicated and then these can be tracked.
The end of the appraisal is not the end of the interaction. It is important to have a record, which both parties agree is an accurate reflection of the discussion. When signed, this should be securely stored in compliance with GDPR. If the appraisal was conducted remotely, capture signatures electronically, using a system like DocuSign or HelloSign.
It is a good idea to schedule a friendly follow up call. This can be to feedback on progress on actions, to ask about a point that was raised or to give praise following feedback. It shows the employee that you listened and things are moving forwards.
Make sure you do follow-up on any actions so that you can show them they do matter.
Agree on a date for the next appraisal. It used to be an annual event, but more frequent meetings can aid good communication, productivity and problem-solving. If it is a positive experience, why wait a year for another opportunity to appreciate and encourage personal development and business success?
Branded appraisal documents
3DVA creates a range of business document templates that can be downloaded from the template library. There is a link to the Appraisal Document at the bottom of this article and this will be available to download for free for 12 weeks.
These are designed to save you time. Get in touch if you would like me to tailor them to your company’s requirements. Allow me to help you present your business in a consistently professional way.
Appraisal Form: Free Download
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