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iManage, Issue #23 -- 3 Steps to a Successful Performance Appraisal Interview
May 31, 2011


3 Steps to A Successful Performance Appraisal Interview

If you are responsible for managing people, then you may have to hold a performance appraisal interview with them at least once a year. How do you feel about that? Is it something you look forward to, or do you postpone it for as long as possible, hoping that it will be forgotten?

You may have an underlying fear that the interview will go horribly wrong - and yes, there is the potential for it to be a negative experience.

Here are three steps to help make your performance appraisal interview a really successful event - both for you and the appraisee.

Step 1: Show Respect for the Appraisee

Create the conditions to encourage an open, two way discussion with your appraisee. The small things count, such as:
  • giving them adequate notice and information to prepare
  • holding the interview in a room where you won't get interrupted or distracted
  • arranging to sit at a round table (less of a barrier than sitting on opposite sides of a desk)
  • allowing contingency time so that you can continue the discussion for longer if it makes sense.

Step 2: Involve the Appraisee

If your appraisee comes to the discussion not knowing what to expect, and sits quietly while you "pass judgement" on their performance, you will miss a valuable opportunity to connect with that person. Make sure they understand the purpose of the interview, and that they are expected to contribute.

Some organizations run training sessions for appraisees as well as appraisers, so that everyone is clear about what is involved. Ideally, give them a copy of the appraisal form ahead of time and get them to appraise themselves - which encourages more of a two way discussion.

Step 3: Be Curious

Use the appraisal paperwork to help structure a discussion around past performance, future goals and learning and development needs. Listen carefully to what the appraisee is saying, both verbally and non-verbally through their body language, tone of voice and the words they use.

Good, probing questions can help get the discussion going, such as "Tell me about your contribution to that project". Avoid questions that are leading, such as "Do you think you could have done a better job on that project?" which may put the appraisee on the defensive.

At the end of the day, a successful appraisal will lead to a switched on, motivated employee. Keep that outcome in mind, and visualise the interview as a great opportunity to move your appraisee, and your business, to higher performance.

For more detailed advice on performance appraisal and staff motivation, download our workbook: How to Build Motivation in the Workplace for a step by step approach with lots of practical tips.
Finally - don't forget to register for the second in our summer series of free webinars on Tuesday 14 June, where we will explore the topic of "Managing Employee Performance"..

click here to book your place.

Best wishes

Ann Halloran

Practical Management Skills

Practical management skills advice for business owners and managers. Get best practice tips on a personal development and people management skills such as time management, leadership, communication, managing change and more.

Content based on 30 years management/consultancy experience gained in a wide range of business sectors.

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