Appraisals: The worst invention of the late 20th century

Your strengths, weakness and ways to improve at work are aired in appraisals with your line manager, but not all managers like them. There are three simple questions that'll improve your appraisal technique...

All your managers should have the interpersonal skills to communicate clearly with their direct reports about strengths and weaknesses, and be realistic and fair about how they're doing at work.

Are Appraisals the Worst Invention of the Late 20th Century 800

What are appraisals?

A staff appraisal is a performance review at work. They're usually delivered by a line manager to an employee. It's a chance to review your progress, develop your training and plan a way forward. It's a balance of positive and negative feedback and if done properly, will give you a way to move forward to benefit your career and the prospects of the team and business.

But, that's not always the case...

"It should be HR's job"

Managers have pushed back against appraisals - they don't want to do them because traditionally, it's HR's duty.

Subsequently, the tired and much-dreaded appraisal has become an annual or bi-annual process.

Dogs get better and more frequent coaching than that.

If you want to motivate your team using appraisals and get their best performance, the quality of these conversations need to improve and be a lot more frequent - daily, if you can manage it.

Every catch up needs to be:

  • Relevant to the role or the role people are seeking to advance to.
  • Measured against the outcomes that the role should be generating
  • Unique to the individual

Three simple questions

Just three simple questions will encourage a quality dialogue.

And, it doesn't need to end in the review meeting - it can continue on a daily basis, at the coffee machine, water cooler or in the gym.

You can talk about individual tasks, or projects, as well as the job as a whole and how your employee is doing on their own and as part of the team.

Question one: “How well do you understand the job?” 

You're asking them to describe their understanding about the practicalities of their role.

It focuses their attention specifically on a job or a task and you'll be able to respond in a clear way that tells them about your expectations.

It's not a question about what they understand about the job description, because most job descriptions detail minimum requirements, not expectations.

You want performance, so you must tell them so or you've no chance of getting it. Once you’re on the same page, you can proceed to question two. 

Question two: "How good are you at it?"

This will either be an open discussion about their limitations or weaknesses, or an opportunity to share some candid feedback and evidence.

By candid feedback, I mean, be honest and fair. 

Tell them straight, in language they'll understand - if you over-complicate the matter with corporate jargon, you'll breeze over the point and they'll miss it completely.

Question three: "What help do you need?"

Now we have a gap to bridge between the managers expectations and what’s really happening.

Their response will give you an opportunity to explore alternatives for development or support. They feel like a burden is lifted and you've got some positive steps to take without the browbeating. And you know each other a little better. 

How simple is that?

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