Performance Appraisal Form - Best Practices

If you just want to download a sample performance appraisal form you can do so here. However, before you do so, do take the time to glance through this article.

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An employee performance review is so much more than the sitting down and getting the paperwork done! The performance appraisal form is simply a guide to help you structure the discussion. and keep a record to refer back to at a later time.

The formal performance review discussion doesn't replace "day to day" feedback and discussions. Rather it is the formal step in an ongoing dialogue between a team member, and his or her team leader, which provides the opportunity to air any concerns and talk about career moves, explore learning opportunities and set goals for the year ahead.

Obviously, the best performance feedback discussions are conducted within an atmosphere of trust. You will have built that trust throughout the year through your daily coaching and the type of leader you are.

As was noted on the performance appraisal examples page - you've got a better chance at success in the performance appraisal discussion happens when the team member completes a self-appraisal first. And, as was discussed in the employee performance review article - comes to the meeting with the mindset that she or he is responsible for improving his or her own performance.

And, if you really want to take this to a new level, consider using a no rating performance appraisal. Research tells us there are lots of downsides to appraisals and limited upsides. Yet organization's continue to insist upon a formal performance appraisal. A no rating helps you to avoid some of the downsides that ratings bring.

Focus On Strengths

Talk about any weaknesses in terms of needs, and learning opportunities.

The best performing organizations now use the research, of Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton in the book, "Now Discover Your Strengths". The research shows that the best performing people and organizations focus on people's strengths and look for ways to work around people's weaknesses - rather than trying to get them to 'fix' their weaknesses.

Listen more and talk less.

Your focus and mindset should be one of curiosity. Your goal is to understand your team member's perspective and strengthen the relationship between you. Listen carefully. Summarize regularly what they have said. Then work together to come up with ideas and plans, that enable the team member to improve his or her performance.

Be careful of pre-judging.

You may not have all the relevant information and facts until your have heard the team member's point of view. Plan the important messages that you want to get across - but stay open to the fact that your perspective may well shift, once you have listened to the team member.

Get coaching on bringing up 'tricky' subjects

If appropriate, you may wish to discuss with a colleague or your manager, your planned approach on introducing or discussing a particular topic that has the potential to be 'sticky'. Feedback from others could make your task easier, as they may have had to tackle a similar situation in the past - or could see how you might inflame a situation with the wrong approach or choice of words.

However, it does go without saying, that in the performance appraisal there should be no 'new news'! If you haven't previously discussed a performance issue with one of your team members you've failed as a leader. You can't duck and weave away from that.

If you have avoided giving feedback throughout the year because you don't have the skills then access any one of these three trainings:

As you are preparing for the discussion, some areas to think about are:

  • The team member's current job priorities and how they may have changed in the past 12 months
  • How job priorities might change in the coming 12 months
  • How they have performed against agreed goals and development activities since the last appraisal period
  • Changes that are coming up and how to best prepare for the changes
  • Feedback you have received from others (be VERY careful with this one - in Successful Feedback I reiterate many times that you should never give 3rd-hand feedback.)
  • Any plans (e.g. promotion opportunities, or new projects) coming up that you have lined up for the team member - but don't make any promises or indications that you can't keep!

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