An Employee Performance Appraisal Process Is Critical to Productivity

Every employer knows that one of the hardest parts of the job is finding a fair and equitable method for assessing employee performance. A properly structured employee appraisal process performs two keys functions: 1) enabling the employer to identify and reward employees who excel at job duties, as well as those not performing up to par; and 2) alerting employees to their standing within the company with enough time to make changes if needed. An effective employee performance appraisal process incorporates several key components discussed below.

First, a fair and equitable employee review process is based on established performance standards that are known to the employees. Standards should be written down, shared with employees and periodically reviewed to see if they are still appropriate or need adjustment. Some companies approach this by laying out a set of standards up front when an employee is hired and revisiting them annually so that there is no misunderstanding about job expectations. Other companies spend time working out performance standards with the employees to achieve better buy-in and understanding. Either approach can work well, depending on the organization. The important thing is that the employer and employees all know what the standards are for satisfactory job performance so that there are no surprises when evaluations roll around.

Second, a good employee review process should be multi-faceted, incorporating input from different facets of the organization including supervisor, customer, and peer reviews. Frequently, a savvy employer will also request an employee self-evaluation upfront to determine how accurately the employee views his own performance for the company. While many companies continue to adhere to a supervisor-only type of review, the concept of a "360 degree" employee evaluation has gained popularity and provides multiple benefits to an organization and its employees. This type of review invites participation from those who interact with the employee in various roles and offers a better snapshot of the employees value to the organization. It requires some upfront work on the part of the employer since procedures must be made to gather input from customers and staff to feed into the process. But it can be very useful at identifying the impact that employees have on those they work with and serve.

Third, a good employee performance appraisal process involves a regularly scheduled sit-down review between supervisor and employee to assess employee performance. These reviews should occur annually, with more frequent assessment if poor performance is an issue. This private evaluation should include specific examples of good/bad performance that help to drive home the main points in the evaluation. Encouraging employee feedback on policies and procedures can be very effective at drawing out any concerns the employee may have that are impacting performance. Where poor performance is an issue, providing specific guidelines for improving performance should be laid out and discussed, along with a timeline for improvement to occur.

Employee performance is the hallmark of any organization and the chief predictor of success. Finding successful ways to evaluate and reward employees is crucial to the smooth functioning of any company. Utilizing the techniques discussed above should lead to a robust employee performance appraisal process that promotes dialogue between supervisors and employees alike to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction to accomplish organizational goals.

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