How to get the best out of annual appraisals

Professional Development

David Wright, UKLA for-candidates

Towards the end of the year many companies will be undertaking annual performance appraisals of their teams.

The annual appraisal is an opportunity for colleagues to demonstrate not only how they have met the expectations the company has set for them, by way of meeting objectives, but also how they have exceeded expectations. 

Many companies will use performance management arrangements as a basis for setting pay in the forthcoming year by dividing teams into groups of those that have exceeded, met or underperformed expectations and making awards accordingly. 


Personal development and training

Sometimes performance appraisals looking back over the past year might also be accompanied by a personal development plan looking ahead to the next involving a set of objectives, competencies as well as a training plan to help the individual to meet these business expectations through project work, coaching, mentoring, attending internal courses or external training like that provided by UKLA.

Gathering evidence is vital for any performance management meeting. Sometimes only tasks, activities and projects which have been visible to more senior management will be used by them as the basis of examples when determining an individual’s performance. 


Set SMART objectives

However about 80% of the activity carried out by a colleague might not be visible to senior management. So when issues arise regarding customers, products or suppliers an individual has dealt with an issue before it escalated into something of a crisis then feedback and communication both up and down ‘the line’, will be necessary to highlight performance during the year.
Dividing objectives up into discrete areas and then gathering evidence of performance around each of these discrete areas is the starting point for preparing for an appraisal. We all know that objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Specific), but they should also be an opportunity for the individual to demonstrate competence to support the delivery of business objectives and, support their growth an individual. 

For competence-based appraisals these usually follow a competency framework already established within a company. Demonstrating impact, influencing colleagues, dealing with issues, managing for performance and overcoming adversity are all areas that might be explored in terms of an individual demonstrating their competence in handling certain situations. 
The use of key phrases in competency frameworks can also prompt the individual to demonstrate a specific skill or activity which the company is looking for.       

No surprises!

Performance appraisals should not be surprises at the end of the year. Regular feedback from senior management to the individual by way of frequent one to one meetings can help aid communication, demonstrate performance and correct any performance or behaviours that need adjusting. They can also help to prioritise tasks or activities for the individual or communicate a changing set of priorities for the company in case of unforeseen eventualities.
Ideally appraisals should be a two-way process of gathering evidence, sharing feedback, highlighting effective communication and demonstrating performance.

This article is written by David Wright, Director General of UKLA and appears in the December 2019 issue of Lube Magazine (Issue 154)

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