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Over the 20 years I have worked in recruitment it has always surprised me how many professionals approach me for career advice directly after their annual appraisal. An appraisal should ideally be a positive experience for both employer and employee where objectives are reviewed and aspirations are discussed, however, it appears that on far too many occasions employers use an appraisal as an excuse to dump poor feedback on their employee (often feedback that has been saved up rather than discussed on an ongoing basis) and the appraisal often becomes very one sided leaving the employee defensive and demotivated. I guess my first thought on appraisals is that although there should be an honest review of performance, this should be two-way and if regular reviews have taken place during the year, there should not really be any shocks. It should also be a forum to discuss the future and set agreed objectives for the year ahead.
Appraisals should assess performance against set objectives and guide employees as to the way their futures will develop. When appraisals are managed well, employees will generally progress consistently and achieve more. If like me, you are a believer that people make a business successful it can be argued that well managed appraisals can play a major part in the success of a business.
Appraisals can come in many different formats. Three of the most common are below:
Whichever of these methods is used, the best are normally where SMART objectives are agreed, so that both the manager and the employee understand what needs to be achieved, how it will be measured and the timescales in which the objectives should be hit. It would also spell out clearly what responsibility the manager and others have over helping the employee with their objectives and development.
Outside of the annual appraisal I truly believe that should be a continual review in the form of feedback, reviews or one-to-ones. These can be less formal than an annual appraisal and often lead to both idea sharing which can help the manager and employee and influence coaching sessions.
There are many pros to appraisals if they are carried out in the right way:
However, there can also be cons if not handled correctly:
Overall I feel that Appraisals are an important tool for businesses to adopt, but they need to be consistent and not be rushed. It is important for the employer to enter an appraisal with an open mind, not pre-conceived opinions and that they allow the employee the opportunity to talk about the things they have done well and where they need help. You do need to make sure that objectives are SMART and that time is set aside to regularly review these and normally the payback from the employee will be huge.
Written by Lucy-Emma Heath-Turrall, Business Manager & Senior Interim HR
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