Appraisal Skills - FAQ

What data do I need to do to evaluate performance?
You need to allocate frequent slots within your monthly work schedule where you collate and record performance data. An effective way to collect the required data is to ask your team to structure their monthly progress reports in a way that maps to their personal goals.

How do I collect performance data?
You should collect data based on: progress towards goals, third party feedback, and observed competencies, as well as generic data like attendance.

How can I evaluate competencies?
To gain a true appreciation of how well someone is performing and contributing to the organization, you need to gather data about the individual's relationship with third parties. Performance is not solely about attaining targets; how they are achieved also matters.

What is rating bias?
Industrial psychologists have identified ten common causes of bias that affect managers when appraising their team. As you read through this list ask yourself if you have a tendency to act in this way. If you answer 'Yes' then you need to make a conscious effort to avoid the behavior.

How do rating scales work?
Most organizations use a 3, 4, 5 or 7-point scale with the most common being a 5-point scale. You will need to communicate to your team members how the 'midpoint' of the scale is defined, so that their expectations are clearly set.

Why are regular performance reviews important?
Regular scheduled performance reviews give you the opportunity to identify potential problems before they become serious. These reviews also strengthen the working relationship you have with each member of your team.

How do I write an annual performance summary?
The primary purpose of the annual performance summary is to give the team member constructive feedback on how well they have performed over the period. Ideally, a performance summary should consist of four sections covering goals, competencies, overall performance, and areas of improvement indicating potential training needs.

What are the principles of performance management?
Even if your organization provides a manual describing the appraisal process it is unlikely to explain fundamental principles behind performance management. This often leaves managers feeling they have little support and guidance in this crucial area.

What are the OSCAR Principles?
As a manager there are certain things you can do within the appraisal process to help you maximize engagement and encourage your team to attain high levels of performance. You can use the mnemonic OSCAR to help you to remember these behaviors and incorporate them into the appraisal process.

How can I set SMART goals?
SMART goals are ones that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound. Once set, the goals must then be monitored and feedback given to the individual to ensure that the goals are attained.

How can I match competencies to responsibilities?
As part of your information gathering, you need to include and note your observations of the competencies an individual displays. 'Competencies' can be defined as the way in which a team member works towards their objectives. Does the member's behavior match the responsibilities of their role?

How can I assess performance against the role description?
An essential part of being able to measure performance is being able to compare what has actually occurred with a predetermined standard. The standard you need to compare against will be set out in each individual's job description.

What is the appraisal process?
Assessing performance is a continuous cycle comprising several discrete steps. The adoption of the OSCAR performance management principles described earlier will enable you to work through this process in an efficient and structured way. It will also ensure that the expectations you have of your team members match the expectations that each individual has of themselves.

What are the 8 stages of the appraisal process?
You may need to adapt the stages somewhat to suit the culture and ethos of your organization. This process is continuous and you can join it at any stage, which you may need to do if you take on a new role or join another organization. You may join halfway through an appraisal cycle or you may take on a team that has never had a formal appraisal before.

How should I approach the appraisal meeting?
The appraisal meeting has a dual purpose: firstly, it provides a forum where you and your team member can discuss their performance over the most recent appraisal period; and secondly, it gives you an opportunity to discuss and agree with them a new set of goals for the next appraisal period.

How should I fill in the appraisal form?
The form must also include an area where you and the individual can sign your agreement to the written summary of that section. The form also provides you with an agenda for the meeting, ensuring that you remember all the key aspects of the appraisal and helping you to form your opening statement.

How should I open the appraisal meeting?
The first thing you need to do is to put the team member at ease and reassure them that you want open and honest discussion of their performance to take place. Your opening remarks set the expectation for the meeting in terms of the degree of formality and sequence of topics.

How should I review past performance in the appraisal meeting?
Reviewing an individual's performance is the main thrust of the appraisal and your success in this meeting will depend on how well you have prepared. Without detailed notes and data you will undermine the legitimacy of the whole appraisal process.

How should I define future goals in the appraisal meeting?
You should agree new goals that reflect the job description and develop the required competencies. You should also ensure that the team member understands how these contribute to the organizational goals. The importance of this part of the appraisal means that it should take up about a third of the overall appraisal meeting.

How should I handle disagreements in the appraisal meeting?
You will need to be able to illustrate their poor performance from the data you have collected. You should also have observations and feedback from third parties that show the team member's lack of competencies or inability to attain his or her goals. It is absolutely vital that this data is both objective and authoritative. You will need to maintain a tight control over this meeting if it is going to be productive and not simply degenerate into an argument about whether or not there is a problem.

What are competencies?
Competencies are distinct from goals. Goals are concerned with 'what' has been accomplished; competencies are concerned with 'how' it was accomplished. Assessing an individual's competencies from the behaviors they exhibit is a key part of conducting a performance appraisal.

What is a competency framework?
Most organizations have developed their own competency framework that details the competencies expected of someone operating at each particular level within it. Some of these are seen as 'core' competencies and are required by everyone within the organization, whereas others are relevant to particular roles or levels of responsibility.

What does an example competency framework look like?
An organization's competency framework is made up of both functional and behavioral components. Each competency provides a detailed description of the behaviors needed to successfully perform a role at a certain level.

How can I measure competencies?
KSAs represent a straightforward way of measuring competencies that is fair and evidence based. KSA is an acronym that stands for Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes, and is a way of breaking down behaviors into more easily measurable components.

How can I get performance data on competencies?
There are two ways you can gather performance data on the KSAs of your team members. Firstly, by recording details of significant incidents that involve the individual; and secondly, by observing the behaviors they display as often as possible and in as many different settings as possible.

How can I develop competencies in my team?
Developing team members' competencies increases their value to the organization and helps them to prepare for future promotion. The competency development cycle can be incorporated into your appraisal and review meetings.

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