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At a coaching review, a manager said to me ” The toughest part of employee appraisal is not evaluating employee performance but convincing the employee after that”. I could understand what he meant. The tough part was getting the employee to accept the basis for the evaluation.

Organizations spend huge amounts of money in putting together a formal performance evaluation process. If you ask me, I would say that the most important part of this process is the last bit. Where the manager sits down in front of the employees and conducts a dialogue on his/her evaluation. If this part is weak, as is the case in many organizations as per my experience, no amount of work in earlier parts of the appraisal process is worth it.

First and foremost, let employees know right at the start the basis on which the evaluation will be done. They must know and understand the standards against which their performance will be measured. Typically, we would use one or more of the following to evaluate performance:

  • Pre-defined standards for the job prescribed irrespective of who does the job.
  • Performance of others in the group/team. We cannot wish away the importance of relative performance. Good idea to keep an eye on group averages which can be used as a index.
  • Previous experience, skill levels of employees themselves influence standards. One logically expects more and better performance from experienced employees as against relatively inexperienced ones.

From a development perspective, we also use individual standards set in the past to evaluate progress made over time. In this sense, the employee competes against himself/herself.

The manager who communicates standards of performance evaluation early in the game finds it much easier not only to evaluate employees but also discuss that evaluation with them later on.

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This is the 66 th of the “A Step A Day “series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.

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