Employee Appraisals – How to give effective feedback

This Appraisal Feedback Guide should be used in conjunction with our Performance Appraisal Form.

Employee Appraisals or performance appraisals are a key stage of the performance management cycle in small businesses.

The Performance Management Cycle
Performance Management Cycle
Performance management enables the company to optimise the contribution of each employee and ensure this contribution is focussed towards enabling the company to reach its goals.

Performance management is vital in a small businesses if one person is under performing in a business of 5 employees, the under performing employee could be reducing the companies overall potential output by anything up to 20%, yet, in a business of 100 this figure may arguably be much lower at 1%. This is admittedly a crude example, but the general principle is sound.

In this article, we will focus on the Review and Appraise Performance phase, and in particular, the steps that a manager can go through to provide Effective Feedback, during a performance appraisal.

This Appraisal Feedback Guide should be used in conjunction with our Performance Appraisal Form.

Step 1: Credible Performance Data and Information

The credibility of the performance data and observations which you use to provide feedback are paramount to effective feedback. If your performance data is incorrect this can lead to an unfair and inaccurate performance review which can lead to low employee morale or even a formal grievance being lodged.

Performance data should also be robust and defensible in all instances, but especially when poor performance is being communicated, where there is greater risk of discontent and dispute. If employees do not believe that the employer’s performance data is reliable, then this will undermine the credibility of the entire process.

Here are some pointers to help in this area.

• Communicate the performance measurement process to employees at the beginning of the period.
• If the goal posts, or measuring systems change, communicate this to the employees in good time
• Use statistical measures wherever possible
• Have uniformity on your assessment approach as much as possible, e.g. assess people equally
• Consider using 360 degree feedback when assessing behaviour – this is where behaviour is assessed by the manager and the key internal users of the employee’s skills. It is thought to provide a more holistic view of behaviour.

Step 2: It’s all in the preparation

Managers should review and prepare the feedback prior to delivering it to the employee. In the case of numerical feedback, (usually related to goals), this is simply an arithmetic exercise to calculate the numerical performance figure.

However, when preparing feedback against performance dimensions, for example ‘Customer Satisfaction’, then it is worth considering the following points, no matter whether positive or negative performance has occurred.

• Succinctly summarize the employees’ performance in this area.
• Provide one or two examples which underlay the employees performance in this area

However, consider the following when supplying negative feedback

• Emphasise and use the terminology ‘Areas for Development’ as much as possible
• Be constructive in your criticism by describing a more effective alternative behaviour.
• Emphasise that the company is willing to support their development and improvement

Step 3: During The Meeting

Firstly, creating a relaxed environment more conducive for providing feedback; some tips on how to do this follow.
• Hold the meeting in a relaxed, neutral setting where you and the employee can relax. If you use a meeting room, try and do it around a small coffee table and sit at 90 degrees to remove barriers.
• If you are a manager who is conducting multiple sessions, allow plenty of time between meetings to recharge your batteries.
Secondly, one must consider the manner in which the feedback is given; some pointers on how best to do this follow:
• If the employee has generally performed well, put their mind at rest and explain this at the start of the meeting.
• If the employee has not performed well overall, you may wish to acknowledge that this has been a challenging year, but you should immediately emphasise the company’s commitment to support employee development. This may provide some solace.
• Recite your pre-prepared feedback to the employee.
• Pause after each dimension and allow the employee the opportunity to respond, should they wish.
• At the end summarily praise good performance, identify areas for development and emphasis the company’s commitment to supporting employee development.

This Appraisal Feedback Guide should be used in conjunction with our Performance Appraisal Form.

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