Performance Management: Planning and Preparation Tips

How to make your appraisal process more efficient


So you’ve had a great year? Prove it!

Performance management is an ongoing cycle of formal and informal conversations throughout the year. Everyone needs the feedback necessary to improve productivity and stimulate personal and professional growth.  It helps people be the best they can be.

Improve performance management with planning and preparation
Reach productivity goals with great appraisals

Having a well thought-through and structured performance management system avoids misunderstandings, under performance, demotivated team members and accountability issues.

Your appraisal process should be designed to:

  • keep employees on track,
  • promote engagement,
  • uncover skills gaps,
  • provide scope for reward,
  • identify your future leaders and key players
  • optimise productivity.

At the informal end of the conversation spectrum regular one to ones give staff and managers a chance to catch up and find out how they are getting on. On the formal side, let’s talk about the annual appraisal.

Annual Appraisals usually culminate in looking to the past, then to the future. Agreeing upon the achievements of the past year, then agreeing goals for the following one.

The Golden Rules

The appraisal should hold no surprises, and should be conducted regularly on a one to one basis throughout the year, meaning that any issues are dealt with immediately before they culminate in a bigger problem. Let’s focus on the first part – a look at the past year.

Looking to the Past: How efficient planning and preparation can solve problems before they arise.

A few weeks before the appraisal, both appraiser and appraisee begin preparing. In many organisations, this discussion awards the appraisee with a yearly rating. For example 1 means they have failed to meet expectations (poor performer), and 5 means they have exceeded all expectations. In some companies, the score awarded is linked to your pay review.

A Difference of Opinion

A score of 3 means you’re doing a good job. When conducting appraisals, I have often gone in thinking of someone as a solid 3, whereas they think they’re worth at least a 4! How does either side justify their position? It’s all about preparation. Nobody just turns up claiming they’ve had a great year, so where’s my 5?

Throughout the year, we should gather factual evidence of performance and achievements, which is used during the appraisal to support our position.

Evidence underpins Planning

I had a folder on my computer called ‘appraisal stuff’, where I used to store information like this. Every time I received an email thanking me for my efforts, it would go into that folder to be used at my appraisal to help secure the score I deserved.

Planning is key to improving efficiency and performance
Plan carefully to maximise performance

I also kept a folder for each team member, which helped enormously when preparing their appraisals. Oh, you were thinking 5? I was thinking 3, let’s talk about it… However, I’m not the Oracle and I might have missed something. If you think you deserve a 4, but I’m thinking 3, and you’ve got the evidence to back it up, I’m all ears.

A note of caution

Over the years, I have met many managers who are desperate to be liked by their teams. Not only does this mean they cannot deliver difficult messages, it also means that during appraisals they are overly liberal in awarding 5’s.

This causes problems across the organisation because some managers are conducting appraisals objectively, using evidence to agree scores, whereas others are not.

The last Word

In the end, regular feedback has been proven to stimulate performance across the board. Don’t forget to keep a folder to back up your own or others achievements, keep to an agreed standard and encourage open communication.

The performance management course is a part of our range of organisational training London courses.