Performance Appraisals – Why are they important?

Performance reviews can be defined as the process of:

·       identifying,

·       evaluating and

·       developing

the work performance of an employee to help achieve the goals and objectives of the organisation. Performance appraisals further provide an employee with recognition, feedback, career guidance and development opportunities.

The performance review process involves a manager meeting with their direct reports on a one-on-one basis at regular intervals (at least annually) to discuss and review work performance and future development requirements. The appraisal discussion should cover areas such as:

·       Operational requirements and the individual employee’s contribution to the achievement of
the organisation’s objectives during the review period,

·       Assessing whether the staff member is meeting the expectations of their position description

·       Giving and receiving positive and constructive feedback

·       Setting performance and development objectives for the year ahead. This includes helping the employee to plan their career development.

·       Providing clarification regarding roles and responsibilities where required to help staff
reflect, plan and review their work performance.

In addition to supporting the facilitation of a culture of open communication within the business, the performance review process can support employers with making decisions about salary increases, position gradings or classifications and improving budget forecasts for the coming financial year.

Setting Organisational Performance Standards

Conducting an effective performance review does require clear performance objectives and performance standards be established and communicated with employees.

Performance objectives describe what is to be accomplished by the individual employee and/or their team over a defined period of time, and need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable,
realistic and time-based).

Performance standards then define the standard of performance (the actions, behaviours or results) to be achieved that are necessary for satisfactory performance and to achieve the objective.

Developing Performance Standards

To help ensure that performance standards are fair and useful, they should:

·       Be based on work performance and objective outcomes

·       Accurately reflect performance and performance variations

·       Be based on observations which are documented and job-related

·       Recognise the realities of the work to be performed

·       Draw on a clear, well-written position description

·       Be aligned to the organisation’s strategic and operational objectives

·       Be agreed upon by all parties.

How to prepare for a performance review meeting

In order to make the performance appraisal session beneficial for all parties, it is essential to prepare beforehand. Preparation may include:

·       Reviewing past review documentation and the objectives set by the employee in their last

·       Review the employee’s position description

·       Think about the employee’s recent work and whether they have met these expectations.

·       Identify areas where the employee has excelled and gone above and beyond expectations,
as well as areas for improvement.

The employee should be asked to complete a self-assessment of their own performance and development over the review period. By completing a self-assessment, the employee will be provided with time to think honestly and accurately about their own performance. As part
of this process, the employee should be asked to:

·       Rate how well they think they have achieved their objectives,

·       Identify opportunities for improvement,

·       Assess their strengths and weaknesses and

·       Note any other issues they would like to raise in the appraisal meeting itself.

The manager should receive the employee’s completed self-assessment at least two days prior to the scheduled appraisal meeting to enable them to review and consider the responses provided.

In advance of the meeting, consideration should be given as to how to best phrase comments and how potentially negative feedback will be delivered. Although it is important to point out both strengths and weaknesses, it will be more effective to discuss positive aspects of performance first. Try to avoid providing appraisals which are completely negative. Be constructive, rather than destructive.  If there are weaknesses, point them out, but emphasise what can be done to rectify the situation.

Tips for conducting a performance review discussion

·       Commit to the scheduled meeting time – avoid having to reschedule the employee’s appraisal meeting and show that the appraisal is important. It may help to schedule the meeting for first thing in the morning so that the likelihood of being caught up by other demands can be minimised.

·       Ensure that enough time is allocated to the meeting to allow for a meaningful discussion to occur (we suggest at least 1 hour)

·       Arrange for the discussion to be conducted in a quiet location. Ensure there is privacy and can avoid interruptions

·       Start the appraisal discussion with a positive tone and warm greeting – Ensure that the employee understands that the discussion should be a two-way conversation, with their constructive, open and honest feedback being critical to being able to discuss their achievements.

·       Set the agenda. Explain the importance of the appraisal process and that the purpose is to focus on the employee.

The discussion should focus on the employee’s performance and outcomes, their results and achievements and how well they met the objectives set in their last appraisal. The conversation
should cover the following areas:

·       What objectives were met?

·       What was not met and why?

·       What development has the employee shown since the last review?

·       What contribution has the employee made to the team?

·       Does the employee enjoy their role? What aspects do and don’t they enjoy?

·       Does the employee have a clear understanding of their role, the department’s role and how these contribute to the organisation’s overall success?

·       What career progression plans does the employee have? How can these be achieved?

·       What specific targets can be set for the year ahead?

·       What training needs are required to fulfil these objectives?

·       What other issues would the employee like to raise?

Post-Review meeting actions

Following the appraisal meeting, the manager should:

·       Complete any required documentation – write up the appraisal notes, including any actions that need to be taken

·       Make sure the action points are completed – for example, if there has been a commitment to exploring further training or arranging meetings with other departments, set up these sessions as soon as is practicable.

·       Periodically check the employee’s activities to determine whether or not goals discussed at
the meeting are being attained.  It is recommended that managers meet 1:1 with their employees at least once per month to discuss ongoing goals.

·       Offer the employee assistance in achieving objectives.

If you require advice or assistance regarding preparing for, or conducting performance reviews with your employees, or should you require support regarding any HR matter, please contact the team at HR Advice Online at [email protected] or on 1300 720 004.

Performance Management Online is a new cloud-based system. Supported by HR Advice Online, it is automated and customisable to your business needs. Simplify the process. Ask us how.  

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts are meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as Government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.


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