Performance appraisals

Caroline McEnery of The HR Suite advises business owners and managers to carry out appraisals at the beginning of the year so that your staff are aware of the company’s goals for the year ahead  



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16 January 2015

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The start of the year is a good time for employers to take stock of where their company is and where it needs to go in the next year. In that regard, the performance appraisal process is a key indicator to assist employers and managers in reviewing their employee’s performance and contribution. It also allows employers to plan their employee’s role in the strategic plan for the organisation over the course of the next year. We advise that your performance appraisals take place in January.

The performance review process is a two way conversation and employers should remember that while they are evaluating the employee’s performance, they are also seeking their feedback of their own performance. In advance of the review meeting, line managers should inform their employees that they will be conducting a review with them approximately one week in advance.

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is a record stating the performances, developments and activities of an employee. It provides the organisation with the opportunity to review the employee’s efficiency and effectiveness in relation to their workload and other tasks i.e. company objectives and whether or not they were achieved. It also outlines objectives to be completed for the following year.

Why is it important?

It is important in the sense that when an organisation is reviewing the performance of a company as a whole, employees of that organisation make up a significant part of this review. Performances by the organisation are entirely dependent on the work conducted by its employees. If employees are not performing to standard and it is not properly identified, then problems can occur. Therefore appraisals are initiated in order to determine the problems and outline the suitable course of action to alleviate these problems.

Who will be appraised and how often should performance meetings take place?

All staff members of an organisation, that have passed their probationary period, should be included in appraisal proceedings. Staff members who are still in the probationary period should be undergoing regular probationary reviews. The frequency of when appraisals occur depends on the organisation, some conduct appraisals annually, others every six months.

Who carries out the appraisals?

In the majority of organisations, employees are appraised by their managers due to the daily interaction managers have with staff i.e. handling and delegating tasks.

Another approach is that appraisals be conducted by senior level management, therefore allowing for the possibility of communication between employees and higher management, while in turn providing an opportunity for senior management to hear the views and attitudes of the employees and junior management.

However, the best way for appraisals to be dealt with is by the immediate supervisor/manager, as they would know the employee best due to their first-hand experience in dealing with the individual.

The employer should provide the employee with a performance appraisal form, if the company uses one, and ask them to prepare a review of their own performance. The employer should also prepare their own review of the employee’s performance.

Types of performance appraisal forms

• Self-evaluation form – This is the traditional method, where the manager sits down with the staff member to evaluate their performance over the past year.
• 360° feedback form – This feedback evaluates an employee from all sides i.e. their managers, peers and those who work closely with them.

This form is used to measure and evaluate employee performance, employee feedback, leadership development, training, organisational development, customer satisfaction etc.

When conducting the meeting, both should be honest and fair in their review and feedback. Clear, relevant and achievable goals should be set for the year ahead and these should be agreed by both parties. At least one meeting should take place during the year to review the progress of the goals. Following the correct process and using the right performance review forms, ensures consistency in the process and makes it easier for both you and your staff to use it.

Conclusion and the law

This is a vital process in the world of employee development. It is important to understand the process and indeed the logic behind appraisal as it is an effective tool in the development process of employees and all staff members.

It also allows members of senior level management the opportunity to understand and learn about the progress of their employees. It also allows employees to discuss with their superiors all aspects in relation to their work, in a free, relaxed and informal atmosphere.

In regards to the legality of the process, companies planning to formalise their process of assessing their employee performance should be fully aware of the implications of the Employment Equality Act, 1998 and in particular the provisions relating to direct and indirect discrimination.

It is extremely important to accurately record all issues discussed during the performance appraisal process and indeed any performance related information, which may arise throughout the year. Employers should avoid unnecessary reliance on subjective criteria and where appropriate cite particular examples of poor performance. Such information may be very important in defending a dismissal case, for example.

If you are conducting performance reviews and have any questions on the process or issues to discuss, or if you would like us to assist you conduct performance appraisals, please call us on 066 7102887.




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