As a manager, one of the periods I dreaded was appraisal time. Neither did I like it as a subordinate. Every worker knows and expects that at least once a year there should be a report on how he or she has performed. The expectation does not however make the exercise easier.
Performance appraisals are regular reviews of employee performance in an organization. It is an evaluation of an employee’s total ability, based on set targets and objectives for a set period. Many organizations use PA as a means of determining compensation, promotion of staff, types of training needed, and at times who gets fired.
Most appraisals are done as an annual or bi annual exercise. Reasons for this could range from the prohibitive cost of carrying out the exercise on the organization; the amount of time it takes to complete the exercise; the emotional turmoil that it lays on the appraiser and the appraisee. And many more. But there are several other factors counting against the annual appraisal method, one of which is “what if there is a change in manager”? There have also been some issues raised as per the method of appraisal used. Whether it is the 360-Degree Feedback, or the Rating Scale or the Management By Objectives or even the Self Appraisal System, there will always be areas of some shortcomings in application.
I believe there is a middle ground which can be adopted and this is the use of the short cycle appraisal method. This implies that appraisal will be carried out more regularly than before, basically on a monthly basis. Yes, it would mean more work for the supervisor or manager, but depending on how it is applied, it could turn out fairer and more objective. At the end of the year, it could be used in addition with the long cycle method.
The short cycle method is applied such that on a monthly basis, the manager has an informal chat with his staff, to discuss and assess how they are coping with their schedule of work. It could be an opportunity to assess the target set, to map out plans on how to make it achievable, and both parties can begin to come up with other suggestions that could be helpful. This solves two problems: one, the supervisor is able to identify problem areas from the start, and two, it allows for continuous means of getting this problem under control. This system of appraisal could be very effective for young and newly employed staff who are still inexperienced in the achieving of objectives. The manager or supervisor at this stage will use this method of appraisal as a means of mentoring and coaching his staff. As the staff adopts and accept the advice, comments, suggestions given on a monthly basis by the manager, there is likely to be improvement in performance. At the end of the quarter, results could be compiled and both staff and manager pass comments. All these can be added up to make the end of year appraisal.
Appraisals can be fun when the boss meets his team members regularly, and individually on one-on-one basis, discuss strengths and weaknesses and find ways to build on strengths while working on improving weaknesses. This also helps to improve communication in the organization and where this happens, there is likely to be a high morale and an effective working relationship.
If you wonder if this can work in a big organization, the answer is “Yes”. What it requires is for each unit head to take on this responsibility, and escalate the findings to the manager if necessary.
Like someone jokingly said, appraisal time is not judgement day. It is a means of building up staff to be better in their duties.