Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Performance Appraisals

As a leader, how do you handle performance appraisals?

One of the important tasks any supervising leader must assume is engaging in performance appraisals with members of your staff.  Performance appraisals can be seen as an annoying task that needs to be completed to get it out of the way until the next appraisal cycle comes round......or......it can be an opportunity to celebrate the good work of your staff, to support their professional growth, and to build capacity for ever-better results.  The difference is huge - a mundane task or a celebratory process focused on growth.  What makes the difference?  It's the leader - and how the leader engages in performance appraisal processes. 

If you'd like to lead a work culture that doesn't fear but embraces performance appraisals, it's up to you as the leader, to change your processes.  A few things to consider when doing performance appraisals:

  • Who does the talking?  Is it you, the leader/appraiser, or do your staff members have more of the 'air time'?  This is a chance for your staff to present themselves and their work to you.
  • Do staff members have a chance:
    • to articulate their work,
    • to explain why they work in the way that they do,
    • to talk about what they believe their greatest strengths and accomplishments are,
    • to describe from their own perspective where they believe they need to grow?
  • Do you use coaching questions in the conversations?  True coaching questions mediate thinking and are non-threatening.  They open up honest conversation.
  • Do your staff members have an opportunity to provide evidence of their work that demonstrates their strengths and accomplishments? 
  • Who decides what the next steps - or growth goals- are?  As the leader/appraiser do you tell your staff member or do they have the opportunity first to explain to you what their growth needs to be.  You might be very surprised that they likely know even better than you what they need to learn next in order to grow professionally.
  • Once the performance appraisal process finishes, is that it?  Done?  Or do you take the opportunity to check in with your staff to see how they're doing with the growth goals that were set?  Friendly, on-going monitoring - if done well - can be encouraging and motivating without seeming like you're checking up on them.

Performance appraisals can be a time-consuming, routine task or it can be a growth-oriented celebration of each staff members' work.  It's up to you as the leader, to create the culture by your actions.

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