The Performance Appraisal form(s) should follow a format that contains the following critical elements:
- Personal attributes are the definition of the desired culture of the organization. Sometimes these are termed Key Accountabilities. They may be general, such as: job knowledge, quality and quantity of work, teamwork, attendance, safety, problem solving, cost control and communications. Others may be more specific and important in some organizations, or with some positions, and not others. These might include: negotiation and persuasive skills, creative ability, delegation, customer satisfaction, organization and HR skills.
- Each attribute should be rated on a scale to allow quantification. For example, to rate the degree to which performance meets expectations, the following could be used: 1 = seldom/never; 2 = often but not always; 3 = always; 4 = often exceeds; and 5 = consistently exceeds.
- Significant accomplishments and preset objectives should be documented and performance evaluated for professional and managerial positions. The quantification of rating, per objective or accomplishment, should use the same scale as above. More description and explanatory support is usually necessary in this section.
- A section for Future Actions should also included, whether they are to improve on areas of shortcomings, set project objectives for the coming year, or for their professional development oriented. These can set the stage for improved performance, and may be a path towards promotion.
Performance Appraisal systems should be set up on an annual basis, usually (though not always) with the timing of the merit increase program. Thus, some are accomplished at the same time each year for all, and some are based upon anniversary date for each employee. The advantage to the former is primarily administrative. The advantage to the latter is that it requires the supervisor to be thinking "Performance Management" continuously. There is no subconscious incentive to only worry about it at one time each year. The critical factor is to be consistent and timely, no matter the schedule.
- In addition, several features should be included in your methodology, including: employee self-evaluation prior to review; openness to modifying evaluations based upon discussions during review, and allowing employee to add comments in their own words to the official review forms.
In larger organizations, there may be specific modifications to the forms and/or processes based upon the job category or other characteristics. You could have separate Sales, Professional, Management and Non-Exempt (hourly) forms, with different personal attributes, and more or less focus on accomplishments and future actions for each.
This is the fourth post in a multiple-part series entitled Tools and Tips for Successful Management and Leadership.