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.


Managing Negotiations; For and Against

Managing Negotiations, for and against

 An entrance of objectivity

Tips for negotiating successfully
negotiation training uk

You have called a meeting on the pretext of discussing price. You understand win/win, you have a plan set in place. You are confident your fall-back point is strong. To entertain any notion of losing is what the other guy does.  As you walk into the board room the ‘competition’ are seated in prayer over laptops. There are four of them and only one stands up. The other three pretend not to notice. The win/win is to build the foundation of a lasting business relationship. Trust is what you are looking for in any negotiation (and an emotional intelligence in the workplace training can also come in handy!)

Your plan, as agreed by the Operations team, is to initiate a partnership so your company products can reach the biggest consumer base. For the right logistics company it would be a lucrative partnership. Consider, you have offered to do all the work on publicity, production, quota’s and packaging. They simply have to guarantee logistics, customs and insurance at a fair price. Your fall-back point is that there is one other partnership which is on offer from a much younger and smaller company. One that sounds eager for new business.

What isn’t said?

He stands and walks to you, extends his hand and in a loose grip turns your hand over. He places the other hand on your elbow. He gently pats your shoulder, looks you in the eye and offers a welcome with a non-committal smile. You may have a feeling of intimidation. A sense you are out of your depth. It is not the start you imagined.

He ushers you to the other side of the table. You pull out your chair and feel like they are lined up against you. You undo your jacket and give a nod to each as one-by-one they are introduced. He immediately advises you that their time is limited. You shrug as he points out that he doesn’t see how the compromise you have asked for on shipping costs is possible. He also advises there is no room to move on the one-off deposit required to signal commitment. A deposit is not a typical standard for the industry.

He catches the way you look at the three intense executives on their machines and nods, suggesting that they have many clients to attend too. He also reminds that time is limited and that it would be good to agree on these conditions and get the next stage of the logistics on the table. You now have an issue with trust. If this is what the company is like at the negotiation table what will they be like to deal with as a long-term partner?

Its all about the win!

The over bearing body language. The handshake, the pat on the shoulder. The us-against-them seating. The disinterest of the other three. The over-powering false importance of the laptop and the suggestion they have many clients to deal with. The initial comments that time is important. The position of their interests first and foremost. The conditions that are set out. You may be asking yourself who exactly is the client here? The poor choice of dialogue and props.

In this position you would use their objection to see how serious their need for business is. Time is limited. You latch onto it and take control. No need to rush, this is much too important to be limited by your availability, you are obviously stretched at the moment. It is a strong move to focus on time being the issue. You push for a far more flexible attitude. If not today at this meeting, then why don’t we decide when a decision should be reached? Let’s pick a time which suits you better.

You have made up your mind

Maybe you push the chair back from the table, giving yourself room. Maybe you pull out your phone and check for messages. Your silence after such a statement will be intolerable.  He may lean forward onto his elbows trying to reengage. You cross your legs and get comfortable. His next statement should confirm what you already knew, they are here to get a signature on a lucrative deal for them. You can flash a smile as he comes forward onto an elbow, his other hand on his waist.

It’s all about trust

Negotiation is a dynamic playground of planning, adaptability and a science of people skills. You know what you want, you have the win/win sketched out. You have your fall-back position. You will observe the body language, check the tone of voice, listen for statements that lead or confine you. You see the distractions and implications that are suggested. Your dialogue is consistent – what’s-in-it-for-them. The secret is to keep one small compromise you have until trust takes shape. Then when the deal is on table give them something that elicits trust. An enthusiasm that says yes, we are open for business that builds networks and proactive relationships. Its all about a love for doing great business. It just depends on what does a great business mean to you?