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Ready for Performance Appraisal Season?

It’s that time of year again. With the start of the new year, many of us will dive into the annual performance appraisal process. You’re not alone if you aren’t looking forward to it. In too many contact centers, performance appraisals are little more than a milestone activity that satisfies HR’s requirements for legal compliance and recordkeeping.

There’s a problem, though. Rushed, unreflective appraisals can cause feelings of employee cynicism and mistrust when employees realize the process is an unproductive exercise, leading to lowered morale and productivity. With a little bit of effort, why not transform this automatic exercise into a real performance-booster? Try these new ideas to inject some energy into your standard process:

  1. Involve employees in the discussion and encourage their active participation. Invite employees to formally self-assess. Require employees to keep a performance notebook or binder, tracking their accomplishments, career aspirations and goals. Involve employees in goal setting. Provide them with the opportunity to assess your performance and identify ways in which you could support their performance more effectively. The more employees are involved in the process, the more they will invest in the process.
  2. Establish your role as a teacher, a mentor, an advocate. Yes, you are a performance evaluator. But, if your only role is judge and jury, you’re missing a critical component of your role. Employees are more open to your assessment when they feel you’re invested in their success and cheering them on, in addition to evaluating.
  3. Continue the discussion throughout the year. Employees should receive feedback on their performance – and the performance appraisal criteria – more than once a year. The annual performance appraisal should be a milestone in that ongoing discussion.
  4. Revisit your criteria. Is the performance criterion specific enough to address the role being evaluated? Does it take into account both job–specific, individual goals and employee characteristics? Is the criterion meaningful, aspirational and focused on aligned business goals?
  5. Educate evaluators and employees. Managers and employees must be able to clearly explain and justify their evaluation and self-evaluations. That’s not possible without a calibrated understanding of the criteria.
  6. Measure the stated objectives of the program. You have those, right? To make sure the resources invested in completing annual performance appraisals are providing a return, establish concrete, measurable program objectives (e.g., improving specific organizational results, improving communications about job expectations, increasing sales) and measure them. If we put all this time into the process and there are no results (besides satisfying HR), we are wasting our time. Do you have time to waste? Didn’t think so.

With some effort to bring more meaning to the process, you can significantly improve the results of your efforts. What a way to start the new year!