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DSM News & Insights

Mervyn Murray – Leadership and Management Specialist

Are your managers having to slot Appraisals into their busy day? Have you ever found yourself wondering if you are squeezing enough value from this important process?

There are many symptoms of a poor Appraisal System, here are just 3 symptoms to look for:

1.    Appraisals require planning and preparation to be successful at any level. The rule is that there should not be any surprises falling out from the process. The manager should know what to say and the appraisee should know what the likely result is going to be, before the appraisal itself. Arguments about ratings and negative feedback should serve as a warning not enough thought has gone into the process by managers.

2.    It's easy to fall into the "paperwork-has-to-be-right" trap. It can become a tick-box exercise to fulfil the requirements of the HR department, where managers think they are being judged only on the timeliness of the returns. Look for a lack of discussion within the responses. There should be depth and quality, rather than one-liners to fill up the blank spaces.

3.    There are so many organisations out there running meaningless Appraisals, they seem to have forgotten this obvious fact: Effective Appraisal Systems should make a difference to performance. If you could quite happily carry on without running your Appraisal System, then that should be a red flag that something is wrong.

Here are some tips to run an effective appraisal, regardless of failings of the system:

Have a Practical Review As a manager, you will know that there are issues that affect performance that are within your scope of influence to change and then there are those that are not. Talking about performance issues that are totally outside the sphere of this person’s influence to control is unfair and unproductive.

Focus on The Future 90% of your time should be spent talking about the future and the improvements you want to see from your team members. Too many times I’ve been told that the time was mainly spent scoring old points or going over old ground that was already covered in previous meetings

Focus on Inputs Too It’s easy to print off a report and hit the person over the head with it’s content, figuratively speaking. If you beam in on inputs as well as outputs, performance should change for the better. Encourage your appraisee to talk about barriers to their performance and then resolve to tackle these together.

Look For System Barriers To Performance We all work within a system: Policy, Procedures and Cultural Norms. Most-times we don’t even notice that the system is in play during poor performance. For example: If we measure the number of faults within a production line, how much is this due to the Production Team and how much due to the Purchasing Team’s need to drive down costs and be less focused on quality?

Be An Outstanding Manager Every manager has the opportunity and capability to make appraisals and performance reviews a truly motivating experience that makes a real difference to people’s lives and the future wellbeing of their organisation. Be the one who takes this opportunity to be outstanding. Don't wait for "Appraisal Time". Start today.

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