Appraisals and Self Evaluation – Why They Are One Of The Most Important Parts Of Your HR Year

Employers and employees often have mixed feelings about appraisals and self-evaluations.  For the employer it can be a source of extra work in an already busy schedule and for the employee unless your appraisal and self-evaluation process is useful, it can often feel like a tick box exercise and that nothing they say matters. This line of thought can be summed up with this shocking statistic:

“A recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 72% of organisations conduct formal appraisals only once a year, while only 2% of employees gave their employer an A grade for their performance management.”

At Altum HR this makes us sad! We see so many businesses missing opportunities for improvement by not allocating enough time and effort to their appraisal process.

Appraisals and self-evaluations should be a time for an employer to focus on their staff, re-align business objectives and assess, re-visit and evaluate targets to make sure they are accurate and still relevant.  Appraisals are an opportunity to touch base with your staff and ensure clarity on your vision for the year ahead.

For employees, this time of year should be one that makes them feel valued. It should be their opportunity to provide the business feedback on their performance as an employer, as well as your opportunity to give feedback on their performance. Employees should leave appraisals feeling motivated, engaged and valued with a structured and robust plan outlining their targets and development.

We want this for your organisation so we’ve put together this helpful blog with some simple guidelines on how you can make effective changes to your appraisal process.

When should you do appraisals?

With year-end out of the way, we now move into appraisal season for many organisations, and April/May is a fantastic time for them to take place.

After completing your financial year reports in March, you will have a clear picture of the successes of the previous year and feel enthused and motivated to plan how you will build upon these successes in the next financial year. Carrying out appraisals and self-evaluations at this time and with a sense of your first quarter’s performance already shaping up will allow your employees to share in this period of reflective and motivation evaluating their role and considering how they have contributed to, and how they will continue to add to your business.

Your Appraisal Took Kit

One of the most valuable tools during an appraisal is your self-evaluation or appraisal form; this is going to capture the vital information you require to carry out a purposeful and engaged evaluation with your employee.

A self-appraisal form should be shared with team members at least two weeks before the appraisal date to allow ample time for the employee to thoughtfully prepare and reflect on their performance and contribution to the company.  If employees feel positive and invested in your appraisal and evaluation process, they are more likely to engage in completing this to a high standard actively.

A well filled out form also enables the manager to revisit previous appraisals and to reflect upon their perception of the performance of the employee over the year. It will allow both parties to consider the goals, training and development needs they have which can then be planned for the year ahead too.

The Purpose of an Appraisal

Appraisals are not merely about pay rises (even though this is of course extremely important to your staff.) An appraisal is a scheduled meeting which will allow employees and managers to communicate freely and:

  • Review the quality, quantity and success of the work since the previous evaluation
  • Discuss and articulate the goals and future vision for the business and how the employee can contribute to these goals and the part they have to play
  • Feedback and agree on areas for development both personally and within your business
  • Give employees an opportunity to discuss any grievances or concerns and provide feedback on their experience as an employee

By engaging the employee with the appraisal process, it allows them to consider their strengths and areas for development which will allow a far more holistic approach in the development of staff.  Quite often, the employee will choose goals that stretch themselves to a greater extent than those suggested by a manager.

The Galatea Effect is a powerful tool for increasing staff performance and productivity. Studies have conclusively demonstrated that if an employee thinks that they can succeed, they are more likely to succeed.  By encouraging staff to take some ownership of the appraisal process and by working with managers to set goals, they are far more likely to feel empowered and ready to face new challenges within the company.  Equally, managers will be granted a greater insight into the factors which motivate and excite their staff, enabling them to tailor the individual employee’s journey within the company. In short, appraisals are so much more than making decisions about salaries.

Staff have to believe in the process

Asking staff members to engage in a self-evaluation may be daunting for them at first. Alternatively, they may not feel enthused about the process if they have no belief in the system that is used and the feedback and information discussed isn’t used positively.  As a business, your appraisal process needs to be so much more than a tick box exercise if you want your staff to participate with any enthusiasm.

It is essential before the process begins to explain why this feedback is critical, what your organisation hopes to learn through the process and how the information will be used. It is vital that the employee doesn’t feel that they are being ‘put on trial’. Appraisals and self-evaluations are hugely valuable, and their value should be explained so that the information gathered is honest and useful. In addition, employees need to feel that their opinions are valued.

What questions to ask

Many questions are suitable for self-evaluations. Here are a few examples which may help you to plan your self-appraisal forms.

  • What do I consider to be my most significant accomplishment within the company over the last year?
  • Which responsibilities in my job do I like the most? And which do I like the least?
  • Are all my skills and expertise being utilized in my current position? How could they be better utilized?
  • Where do I see myself in 5 years from now?

Appraisals are personal things!

There are many factors which may influence how you go about completing staff appraisals.  Some businesses may favour a more informal approach whereas some will prefer a formal meeting where notes are taken to provide records. The frequency of evaluations is also something which may differ from business to business. However you choose to structure your appraisal program, it is essential that this is shared with your staff and is consistently adhered to.

If you are new to the concept of appraising staff, or of using self-assessment with your employees, or you may feel that your approach needs a revamp, why not contact Altum HR today to discuss how we can help you to streamline and implement effective and productive appraisal practices in your business today?

We’d love to turn your appraisal process into something that both you and your team feel positive and enthused about, after all, a well-conducted and engaged appraisal can have a hugely positive effect on the success of your team and your business.

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