Performance appraisal is a critical activity in an organisation but few managers get it right. Listed are some common pitfalls to avoid, with tips on how to make the exercise effective.
Making it a fault-finding exercise
Only pointing out the employee's non-performance, avoiding mention of the areas of performance can be demoralising. Some managers will use this inexcusable technique of fault-finding to get rid of someone they don't like. The demoralised employee, at the receiving end of the tirade, will, the manager hopes, quit the job. If you believe that a person does not fit or meet the job requirement, it has to be for professional reasons with no room for personal vendetta. Point out areas for improvement but always balance your appraisal with credit, however insignificant the efforts of the employee.
Leveraging your own achievements
The manager who uses the occasion to highlight his own achievements to the employee, saying how successful he was during this phase of his own career is setting the stage for resentment. The correct approach is to guide the employee, basing the advice on your personal experience but without trumpet-blowing.
Not defining a road-map for improvement
Ending a performance appraisal session with advice but no guidelines is useless. Unless the employee knows what steps need to be taken to improve, he/she is likely to be in the same situation at the next appraisal.
Making it look like a favour
Some managers will use the opportunity to make the employee feel that he/she is being done a favour either in the form of increment or promotion or by not giving a negative appraisal. Be honest in your appraisal and go by the organisation's rules of appraisals because if you compromise on your integrity and play favourites, your managerial credibility will be eroded. Explain clearly to the employee your method of assessment and rating.
Comparing the employee with someone else
Don't draw a comparison between two people during an appraisal. The employee will conclude that you favour the other person and he/she will also develop resentment against both of you. When praising someone’s performance as the benchmark, do so in a public forum. During appraisal, encourage the individual to improve upon his own performance.