Here is an article on "Apprising Employee Objectively" by Anil Kaushik, Management Expert & Trainer.
APPRAISING EMPLOYEE OBJECTIVELY
Accept it or not but it is a ground reality that performance appraisal system is treated as one more gimmic initiated by HR deptt. to keep their clout in the company. This perception among managers is revealed in a resent research study. While HR people keep harping on the benefits and importance of performance appraisal system and a tool to filter out the competent form the under performer and dead wood, judge the skill levels in the organisation, most executives feel that it has little value. Where do the roots of difference in opinion on the importance of this tool lie? What should as HR manager you do to make this system a meaningfull exercise for the organisation? There are two aspects of appraisal system - one is procedural and other is interpersonal. Research reveals that much emphasis is laid on procedural aspect while interpersonal aspect is neglected causing ineffectiveness of this tool. It is for the HR manager to communicate its objectives and clear every doubt raised by functional executives who appraise their subordinates. They should be prepared and trained well before taking up the exercise. While appraise they should keep in mind that the objective of any performance appraisal system is to motivate the appraise instead of disourasing him. Responsibility of appraiser does not come to an end as soon as appraisal form is filled. HR manager should ensure that appraiser always inspire and motivate his subordinate through his words and behaviour. He should take initiative in term of what his subordinate needs to do and improve his performance rather to harp on what wrong he has done.
It is not the time for HR people to lock them up in their cabins, lose touch with intra and inter group dynamics in the organisation and complete this exercise as one more task. Sometimes it is quite disappointing to observe that appraisals are not being carried out with the due importance and seriousness they deserve though the systems provide scope for periodic and timely appraisals; normally appraisals are being carried out once a year or at the most twice a year as per the practice. Many organisations do follow monthly and quarterly appraisals for management trainees till they are confirmed, and follow the bi-annual or annual appraisal system thereafter. Appraisal is a continuous process, to be scientifically carried out day in day out, if one has to seriously carry out appraisals. There are two categories of managers in the corporate world. They are:
Those who seriously believe in the appraisal system and believe follow the dual system of recording the performance of subordinates in a diary, either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and transposing the same in the official appraisal document provided by the HR department, once in a year or six months as the case may be.
The other category of managers are those, who take it so casual, that they devote only five to 10 minutes in a year to fill up the appraisal document, as a matter of routine and urgency. Unfortunately the percentage of such executives and managers falling into the latter category is very high. The remedy lies in providing regular training to them so that all aspects of appraising and counselling are considered appropriately by the appraiser. It should be a planned discussion and not done on the spur of movement nor it should be treated casual get together.
Considerations prior to appraisal
•Consider each factor independently. Do not allow particular actions or personality traits of employees to influence the entire rating. This is known as the ‘Halo’ effect and is the reason for rating one factor at a time.
•Very rarely will employees measure the same on all factors-even unsatisfactory employees may always be at work on time with no absenteeism.
•Avoid the natural tendency of rating high level jobs high and low level jobs low. Remember that you are rating the performances of individuals.
•Differentiate between performance evaluation and salary administration, although there is a close correlation.
•Do not rate on vague impressions. To rate accurately, you must have a very good knowledge of the performance of employees. A thorough knowledge of each job is necessary in order to establish fair standards for job performance in each job.
•Do not permit length of service to influence the rating. For example: Computer Operator with one year of service may merit higher rating on that particular job than secretaries with several year of service.
•Do not rate too quickly. Take enough time to assess correctly. Give as much care and attention to evaluating your employees as you would want from someone who might be evaluating you.
•Do not let personal feelings influence the appraisal. Guard against the normal inclination to attribute greater proficiency to persons who you like personally or who are very congenial.
•Avoid the tendency to discuss one employee’s performance appraisal with another employee, and to compare one individual to another.
•Do not rate ‘sympathetically’. If there are special circumstances that should be recorded, rate accurately and explain the circumstances in the ‘comments’ section of the form.
•Above all, do not force a rating to avoid embarrassment when explaining the evaluation to an employee whose job performance requires improvement.
•Each rating should be made without referral to the past rating. Job performance can vary between evaluation periods and present rating should show the change. But where a substantial difference exists, managers should make every effort to determine the reason for the change.
•Schedule the performance interviews and inform employees far enough in advance (one-two week) so that they will have sufficient time to prepare.
Purpose of counselling
• To help the employee to improve his performance level.
• To maintain his morale.
• To guide him to identify and develop his strong points.
• To overcome his weak points.
• To identify his training needs.
Skills of counselling Interview
Active listening : Accepting and trying to understand the subordinate’s feelings.
Make use of pauses : Waiting patiently without embarrassment for the other person to take.
Reflecting feelings : responding to feelings to show understanding.
Summarising feelings : To indicate progress, show understanding and emphasise certain points as well as to end the interview.
• Make sure you know mutually agreed terms of job, duties, standards, performance factors and objectives.
• Review employee’s background education, training and experience.
• Review employees past jobs and job performance.
• Make sure that the employee has sufficient advance notice for the interview.
During the Interview
• Be sincere, informal and friendly. Explain the purpose of the discussion and make it clear the interview is a two-way conversation.
• Initial period of the interview is for creating a cordial atmosphere.
• Spend the initial period in less emotion loaded issues.
• Avoid personality related discussion.
• Base the appraisal on facts.
• Appraise results and not the methods used.
• Stress good performance as well as areas needing improvement.
• Talk about strong points first-your positive statement are likely to encourage him.
• Your negative statements may be depressing immediately but help him if the feedback is given properly. So make your statements carefully.
• Your genuine interest in the employee and concern for him will go a long way in developing him.
• The atmosphere created during the discussion is vital for mutual understanding.
• Be objective.
• Be selective and realistic.
• Be sympathetic to the employee.
• Spend time on suggesting a development plan for the employee.
• Do not make too many critical points.
• Encourage the employee to discuss how he appraise his own performance.
• End the discussion by summarising what has been discussed. Make it positive. Show enthusiasm.
• Give employee an opportunity to make any additional suggestion.
• Close the discussion on a friendly harmonious note.
• Make a record of Plans you and employee have made.
• Evaluate how you handled the discussion:
ƒæ What did you well?
ƒæ What did you do poorly? How would you do it differently?
ƒæ What did you learn about the employee.
• Resolve to do even better next time.
End Results of Appraisal Counselling
• Congruence between Appraiser and Appraisee.
• Development Plans arising out of Strengths and Weaknesses.
• Specific Objectives (Targets) for next year.
I am sure if you develop these skills, performance appraisels system will yield good results.