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Via CIPD : Five ways to avoid appraisal pitfalls

With the annual review season upon us, Jonathan Maude provides tips for HR professionals on getting performance conversations right

1 Be honest

One of the most common things HR practitioners get wrong with appraisals is to gloss over inadequacies and avoid confrontation. Far from being harmless, being ‘soft’ and unwilling to address an employee’s poor performance can have a ruinous effect on the standards expected and the morale of co-workers, and in certain circumstances expose the company to claims of discrimination and unfair dismissal should the employee need to be dismissed at a later date.

In this uncertain world, with the spectre of Brexit looming, a company may decide it needs to downsize. If redundancies become needed, the appraisal is a first reference document to be considered when looking at which staff will stay and which may go.

2 Adopt the right tone

If the message is delivered in the right way – for example, in a more encouraging tone – then the messaging itself can be constructive and positive. It is more likely to be appreciated and taken on board by the employee. Equally, if there is a well-understood appraisal system and the culture is to provide honest and detailed feedback, this becomes the norm, and any confrontation should be avoided.

3 Train appraisers

Training needs to be given to the person undertaking the appraisal and the employee should be told what to expect from the process. So often a manager, who may be very good at their job, is put in charge of people and not given the right tools for the role. They need to be trained in how to deal with appraisals and how to deliver honest and constructive feedback to the employee.

Part of the training needs to focus on why this is an important task, not one to just tick off the list. For example, if it were to become necessary for a company to make group redundancies, then it will need to undertake a selection process of the affected employees to avoid unfairness in dismissals. The selection process may also give the company a defence to claims of discrimination, as it may be able to show objective justifications for decisions it has taken.

4 Get the data right

To follow a fair redundancy process in a ‘pooling situation’ employees need to be sifted. Various factors will need to be considered when ‘scoring’ employees, and performance is likely to be one. If appraisals have not been conducted properly there is no raw data to use in this process. The company will then end up making more subjective decisions, which will be subject to legal challenge by way of unfair dismissal or, in the worst-case scenario, discrimination claims.

5 Be objective

Aside from the legal issues, there is the fundamental business problem that subjective, ‘on the hoof’ decisions put the company at risk of letting good staff go and retaining the non-performers. This is bad for the company and its morale going forward.

Performance reviews, whether annual or more regular, need not be feared and loathed in equal measure. If the groundwork is done well and in a systematic way then both employer and employee know what to expect and both benefit.

Via INC : The Right Way to Conduct a 90-Day Performance Review

What is the right way to do an evaluation of a new hire?

Many companies have a 90 day “probationary period” for new hires. At the end of this, the manager is supposed to do a sit-down evaluation with the new employee. It’s such a standard thing that we often don’t think about it, but we should. It’s actually an area which can cause your business big troubles if you don’t do it right. Here’s the right way to conduct a 90-day performance appraisal.

Stop Saying “Probationary Period.”

This is not just a language thing–it’s a legal thing. In the United States (with the exception of Montana) all employees are at-will unless they have a contract (such as a union). You do not want to do anything to jeopardize the at-will status. So, stop referring to the first 90 days as a probationary period because it implies that the rules change at day 91. If you can be fired without notice on day 75, does the end of the probationary period mean something’s changed and now you can only be fired for cause? You don’t want to get in the legal battle over that. Just say, “We’re going to do a review at 90 days.”

Aim for 90 days.

We don’t call it a 90-day review for nothing. The 90 days isn’t critical. You could do a 60-day review, a 120-day review, or a 75.5-day review (over lunch!). The critical part is to do it when you’ve told the employee you will. Put it on the calendar on your new hire’s first day.

Why? Because performance reviews stress the heck out of your new hires. If you postpone or don’t get around to scheduling, it makes it difficult for your employee. She doesn’t know where she stands. So, if you say you’re going to do it, do it.

Have an Agenda

If you sit down and say, “So, how are things going?” you’re going to miss important things. You can certainly have that type of conversation, but not at an official review. A review should have, at a minimum, an agenda. If this is official company policy there should be a form.

You want to stick to the agenda and cover these things (plus whatever is important for the particular position).

Areas where the new hire needs additional training:

  • Cultural fit
  • Gaps in knowledge
  • Workload evaluation
  • Skills Fit
  • Employee’s observations
  • Things that need changing
  • Things that are working well
  • Make Sure the Employee Has a Chance to Speak

This is not just about you giving feedback, it’s about you receiving feedback. What is and what is not working? Are the improvements that your new hire wants to make? Are there concerns you should know about? It’s better to learn about these things now than have problems appear later on.

Remind the New Employee about Policies

Most people aren’t going to take a day off in their first few months, so they may have forgotten the proper procedures to request time off. The new employee may not have submitted an expense report or had to buy plane tickets for travel, but she will in the future. It’s a good time to go over these things to that the employee never feels uncomfortable.

And if the 90 Days Were a Failure?

If it was a total failure, then that should not be a surprise to anyone at the review. If you’ve been attempting to fix the problems for the past 90 days, it’s time to let the employee go. However, if it was a disaster because you didn’t provide training and support, you need to fix that. Bringing in someone new won’t fix the company’s onboarding process.

But, if the employee is definitely the issue, it’s better to part ways sooner rather than later. Get the paperwork in order and get everyone to sign off and bid the person good luck in their future endeavors.

Say Thank You!

You know what a new job is? Hard. It’s far more difficult than a job you’ve had for 3 years. You get decision fatigue just because everything is new–you have to develop new patterns and new techniques. You have to deal with new people and learn their quirks. It’s tough. So thank your new hire. She’s survived 90 days and that’s not easy. Let her know you’re thankful.

Via Forbes : To Keep Your High Performers From Hating Performance Appraisals, Try Using A Proudest Moments List

Employee performance reviews are not particularly effective. You may have seen the research that currently, only 29% of employees say they ‘always’ know whether their performance is where it should be. And more than a third of employees ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ know whether their performance is where it should be. This means that even though most companies use some form of performance appraisals, most employees still don’t really know if they’re doing a good or poor job.

And not only are performance appraisals supposed to offer employees some insight about their performance, they’re also supposed to help employees grow and develop. Well, more research has found that about 50% of employees say their leader rarely or never takes an active role in helping them to grow and develop. So clearly, performance appraisals need some help.

Performance appraisals, if done right, actually can be useful, productive, meaningful conversations that do what they’re intended to do: improve employee performance and promote growth and development. There are many ways to fix performance appraisals, but here I want to highlight one incredibly easy technique: Start every review by asking your employees “What are your proudest moments?”

You might already do a self-appraisal, but there’s a big difference between proudest moments and a self-appraisal, and that difference is what makes proudest moments so motivating. When you ask for a self-appraisal you ask for the proudest moments, but you also ask for the biggest failures. And while it might not be a bad thing for your low performers to have to bring you an honest evaluation of their biggest failures, it’s actually quite harmful to your top performers.

There’s a different psychological dynamic that happens when high and low performers experience failure. Low performers might not know about the failure, they might not care, or they may even have intended for the failure to happen. But one of the reasons high performers are high performers is that they have a high degree of critical self-awareness. Which is wonderful because most of the time these valuable employees already know they messed up—even before you tell them. And they get right to work on fixing the problem and making self-corrections so they never mess up like that again. However, most high performers are also prone to beating themselves up pretty hard when they mess up. And that can quickly turn the focus of the review back onto stuff they’ve already corrected and moved past. Plus you might just get swayed listening to a high performer beat himself up and give lower marks than are deserved.

Keeping things focused and balanced for high performers is only one reason to ask about proudest moments. Starting reviews with this simple question also helps leaders avoid the biggest employee de-motivator: missing the greatest things your people did that year. Because what you learn by asking this question gives you all sorts of great information to work from during the review. Let’s face it, managers are human too. I can’t remember what every one of my employees did 12 months ago, and I have a pretty decent memory. The fact is, you’re not going to remember every single little thing, so have your people make the list and tell you their proudest moments. It makes a big difference to them if the two great things they did get remembered and talked about a bit.

Another benefit is asking about proudest moments also clues you in as to the kind of meeting you’re in for. If an employee tells you, “I am just so proud of myself because I made it on time for work 70% of the time this past year which is a huge improvement over the 50% I managed the year before,” it tells you what kind of conversation you’re in for. You’re going to go into that review with a very clear direction.

So before your next performance review period starts, simply ask your people to make a list of their proudest moments. If your organization conducts 12-month reviews, ask employees for their proudest moments from the past year. Or if you do six-month reviews, have them look back on the past six months and answer, in writing, the question: What were your proudest moments? And just like self-appraisals, always do your own evaluation first before you read employee proudest moments. This allows you to avoid neurological biases like the anchoring effect that can skew your evaluation and make the review less objective.

Via The Next Web : It’s hard to believe we are already in 2016! By now most business leaders have probably analyzed all of the key metrics detailing the triumphs and failures of the last year, and they have used that data to finalize business goals for Q1 and beyond.

Countless companies across the country have also just undergone their grueling annual performance review process. But some business leaders are embracing the changing world of work instead of relying on outdated management practices like these that are no longer effective.

To succeed today, companies cannot rely on the most important conversations between managers and employees happening only once or twice a year. Organizations cannot operate in a paradigm where information flows upstream to leaders, who then make decisions in isolation before passing down directives for employees.

I’m writing this article to provide more color into annual reviews, including their origins, benefits, and downsides. At the end of 2016, your review process will hopefully be far less painful for everyone involved.

The big shift

Not long ago it was perfectly effective to employ a command and control management model where decisions were centralized at the top and people carried out orders below, primarily because the marketplace was less complex, more predictable and so slow to change. As the marketplace has become more rapid and complex, tech giants like Microsoft and Dell have adopted new management models to surpass their competitors.


In nearly every industry companies must become more flexible and agile. By decentralizing decision making, they provide the people who are closest to the problems the autonomy to decide and act on behalf of their organization. This rapidly speeds up their turn on actions, quickly resolving issues and innovating faster than ever before.

One of the trends that we are seeing in the last couple of years is that companies are shifting away from traditional performance reviews, getting rid of them altogether or only using them as part of an overall performance management strategy. In 2015, Deloitte announced that they would reinvent performance reviews based on findings that “the best team leaders revealed that they conduct regular check-ins with each team member about near-term work.”

Sustainable motivation

At best, highly competitive environments and traditional performance reviews and ranking systems produce a form of extrinsic motivation. This is accompanied by a sense of pressure, fear and competition between colleagues. These negative side effects have been proven to shut down people’s abilities to be highly creative and collaborative.

In today’s knowledge-worker economy, the type of work that’s becoming most highly valued is creative, innovative and collaborative. Other innovative companies like GE and Adobe have abandoned annual reviews, realizing that the age old competitive advantages of hard work and efficiency are now simply table stakes. This is a trend according to The Society for Human Resource Management:


The number of employers that are either ditching the numerical ranking of employees or tossing out the entire performance review process has grown from four percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2014, according to a Corporate Executive Board (CEB) survey of Fortune 1,000 companies.

Breakthroughs that set a company apart in the marketplace now require new ways of thinking, acting, and working together. That only comes from people who are open, connected, and inspired to produce their very best work.

Creativity needs space

What truly motivates people to do their best, most creative and most innovative work is perfectly aligned with the skills and behaviors required to create organizations that are agile, flexible and decentralized. Here’s how to create an environment where employees are authentically and intrinsically motivated, and where creativity can flourish:

  • Connect people to a common purpose and the company-wide and individual objectives that they need to achieve success.
  • Provide them the autonomy to decide and act in service of achieving their objectives.
  • Get to know them by asking questions. Find out where they are struggling.
  • Support them in becoming their best by addressing the specific issues you surface.
  • Facilitate a great culture by having managers develop strong relationships with all team members.

Feedback and transparency are now critical elements of the most innovative, successful and fastest-moving organizations. Leaders can’t afford to be the bottleneck for every decision and action that needs to be taken. Instead you should set the direction, create the culture, empower your people with the tools they need, and then support and coach them in doing their best work.


More and more companies are embracing an approach where leaders grant autonomy instead of boxing people in with standards like stacked rankings. Sure there are milestones to achieve and metrics have to be analyzed so that performance is optimized. But conventional employee rating systems inhibit collaboration and high-performance.

In today’s workplace, innovation is triggered by team collaboration and growth; whereas competition and fear lowers productivity. According to a survey of 13,000 employees conducted by the Corporate Executive Board , 66 percent of employees say that performance reviews interfere with their productivity, and 65 percent say it isn’t even relevant to their jobs.

The bottom line

Leaders who bottleneck projects need a role makeover that allows them to focus on creating the strategy and goals, while empowering managers and teams to make day-to-day decisions. Start by finding ways to create more transparency in the workplace and invest in your culture. A strong, aligned culture will guide business decisions in decentralized, agile environments.

High performance is derived from employees who are engaged and feel connected to the vision of the company. Leaders and managers can intrinsically motivate their employees by checking-in weekly and asking the right questions. Managers who initiate conversations and build strong authentic relationships with employees will coax the best from their people, whereas overly-competitive environments stifle creativity and sustainable productivity.

Source : THE NEXT WEB | Don’t just review employee performance, improve it