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How to Turn The Dreaded Year-End Performance Appraisal into an Inspirational Appraisal

As we are fast approaching the end of the calendar year, many organizations have begun their year-end performance appraisal process. While some organizations may be abandoning the traditional appraisal process, experience suggests that, uncomfortable conversations aside, people like hearing how they’re doing. The performance appraisal is a crucial part of the ongoing dialogue between managers and employees. It summarizes ongoing performance and development conversations and provides a record of past performance and expectations for work in the upcoming year. And fewer touchpoints, such as getting rid of the annual performance review process — is not the answer. In fact, my counsel to leaders has always been for increased touchpoints with greater focus on making the process as fair as possible.

dreaded year end appraisal

The following are some ideas on how you may be able to help your organization conduct the performance management process more effectively.

  • Ensure consistent and direct feedback and coaching – there’s no substitute for the direct feedback and direct coaching that happens day in and day out.

  • Ensure the process is perceived as fair by your employees by sharing how their work supports your organization’s overall goals and objectives.

  • Leverage data and analytics where possible. Some employees will not have metrics tied into their performance goals, but data and analytics provide an objective way to share feedback for those employees who do.

  • Educate and empower your leaders to give better feedback. All too often, I’ve seen the copy-and-paste method utilized by managers when writing their performance evaluations as a way to save time. These are critical conversations, so it is imperative that managers have tools and resources to provide constructive feedback and encouragement so that their employees feel valued.

  • Seek feedback from the employees’ peers. As organizations are becoming flatter, employees are interacting with more people in various departments, so gathering feedback from a larger sample size can help eliminate biases and provide a broader perspective on performance. (Important to annotate this step in your communications and/or process outline so that both parties know you may be soliciting feedback).

  • Communicate to the employee that you are committed to their continuous improvement and encourage a collaborative and open feedback process in the coming year.

  • If applicable, communicate how your organization’s annual performance reviews are linked to the employee’s compensation (merit and bonus).

It is important to understand how easily the performance review process could fail if it isn’t supported by the senior leadership team and reinforced by the organization’s culture. All that said, leaders need to carefully consider whether their current process is giving them what they need to solve current performance problems and develop future talent. However, the bottom line still applies – feedback and coaching are crucial for professional growth and development. Managers must realize this and demonstrate that they care about their people and are worthy of their employees’ trust in assessing their performance. By doing so, it will provide organizations with an edge in attracting and retaining talented individuals.


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