Most hardworking employees attach at least some small portion of their identities to their work performance. So no matter how professional and impersonal a review process may be, managers can still expect annual appraisals to have an emotional impact on an employee, alter his or her sense of confidence, and provide some personal motivation for the year ahead.
And because of this factor, the message left behind by an appraisal is best kept simple. To be remembered and to motivate action, any emotionally loaded message should stay short, clear, and centered around a limited number of key points.
Here are a few moves that can help managers avoid over-thinking the appraisal process. When managers stop over-thinking, employees stop over-thinking, and both parties can focus their attention on action and change.
- Start with a simple form.
Both self-appraisals and official employee appraisals should be completed on a self-explanatory form. Reduce confusion at the start by limiting the number of questions and ranked items, and phrasing them in a way that leaves the smallest possible room for interpretations. Rating scales should be easy to interpret and next steps should be easy to deduce. If you are using or thinking about switching to automated appraisal forms and software, select one that offers appraisal templates – no need to reinvent the wheel when you can rely on simple and proven appraisal forms.
- Include simple goals.
Keep the process meaningful by staying goal-oriented from the first draft of your employee appraisals to the last. Every move you make, every edit, and every word on the appraisal form should connect to a specific purpose that directly supports the company. Assigning goals should also be as simple and as consistent as possible. Managers should have an easy way to create and cascade certain goals to their team or department and employees should have a clear view of how their goals directly contributes to the goals of the organization.
- End with a simple repository for comments.
Tie up any loose ends (and allow your managers and employees to tie them up as well) by allowing limited space for open-ended comments after each question or ranked item. Use the comment section to allow reviewers to clarify why they made certain choices or offered the responses they chose. Try not to let the comment section add to the confusion by allowing managers to make statements that can’t be proven or quantified. And discourage calls to action or improvement plans that can’t be easily understood or executed. To eliminate any inaccurate comments or ratings, we recommend encouraging employees and managers to keep a year-round account of feedback and performance notes and then using them in their appraisal to support their comments. See emPerform tag
No matter what your current appraisals look like, there is always room to simplify the process. Whether you are looking to clean up current forms, merge questions or sections, or simply reduce the confusion by providing helpful and clear ratings and/or areas for documented feedback, the golden rule should always be clarity and simplicity.
To learn more about emPerform appraisal templates and easy-to-use software for conducting reviews, contact us at 1.877.711.0367 or email [email protected]