Employee appraisal interviews do not have to be difficult
It’s easy to regard employee appraisal interviews as low priority and think that they’re more trouble than they’re worth. But whatever you do, don’t do that! Employee appraisal interviews can be one of the most important things you do to in relation to following up on workplace goals and ensuring a good work culture. For you to get what you want out of these interviews, however, there are a number of things to remember. So let’s take a look at what you mustn’t forget.
Have a clear plan ready
There’s quite a lot to remember when it comes to employee appraisal interviews and yes, they do mean a good deal of work, but don’t let that rain on your parade. The interviews are supposed to be pleasant and something that helps keep the company on the right track. Neither do they need to swallow several weeks of your schedule, even if you manage lots of people (but we’ll come back to that later).
"...think of it as an activity, not just another task"
Before the actual interview takes place, it’s a good idea to prepare both yourself and each employee concerned, for employee appraisal interviews are more than just the interview itself. There are also a few things that should be done before and afterwards, but think of it as an activity, not just another task.
Let’s start with what to do before the meeting. It’s a good idea to send them a form with a few questions about themselves, their work and you as their manager. Also make sure there’s plenty of space where they can write down any thoughts that they’d like to talk about with you. You also fill in a corresponding document. This way, you both get a better basis for discussion and make sure that nothing gets forgotten.
Tips for the conversation itself
There are no hard and fast rules for how or how often employee appraisal interviews should be conducted, but it’s good to have thought through what you think is best for your company. We have a few pointers, but what we don’t want to do is tell you how to do it. First of all though, we’re avid supporters of having several employee appraisal interviews throughout the year, preferably once every quarter. One long, exhaustive interview is not necessarily what’s most effective. A number of short (and sometimes informal) conversations on the other hand, can be both smart and productive. HR Norway CEO, Even Bolstad, says:
"If interviews are conducted less often than once every six months, they quickly become a ritual that you don’t get very much out of."
Long, annual interviews easily fall into the trap of working through a question sheet. And having to trawl through everything that has happened during the year or that is on the agenda does not provide great opportunities for an open, honest conversation. This is simply because some issues require a little more attention than others. It makes sense that a serious concern often needs more time spent on it than more or less trivial issues. We still think holding larger employee appraisal interviews can be wise but don’t let them become an all-consuming, black hole that addresses everything. Rather, stick to the most important issues, such as a proper evaluation of the manager and employee, for example.
But what can you say in an employee appraisal interview, and what can you expect the employees to say? One thing that’s important to remember is that the interview is an evaluation of employees and the manager in a workplace, not a chat between close friends. It should therefore focus on how things are going at work and as little as possible on private matters unless they are affecting work. That doesn’t mean talking about private matters is necessarily wrong in an employee appraisal interview, but what is important is that both you and the employee evaluate the relationship between you. Are you good friends or is it purely a professional relationship? If you have a personal, friendly relationship, it may be perfectly OK to talk about what’s difficult outside of work too. Such things can readily affect a person’s performance at work.
Make a follow-up plan
The interview is over and you and your employees have come to an agreement. The employees have put forward some thoughts about themselves and about you, and you have done the same. Now you both have to make sure that the measures you agreed are being worked on. But how do you go about finding out? Here we come back to short, informal conversations: conversations where you go through the things you agreed on in the "main employee interview".
If you then used templates or question sheets, you may have some useful notes or perhaps the minutes of the meeting. Have a good look at them and see what you agreed on between you. Then together go through the goals you set for one another. Has there been an improvement or is everything as it was before? If you have got the notes or minutes from the interview, there is no room for confusion. The goals are very clear and distinct. What you agreed upon is there in black and white.
Remember that employee nappraisal interviews should have an effect on the company
To sum up then, there are no hard and fast rules for conducting employee appraisal interviews. You have to consider for yourself what is best for you, but there are a few things we can give advice about. Have several employee appraisal interviews throughout the year, preferably every quarter or even every month.
As the name suggests, employee appraisal interviews are to do with work, so it’s usually best to keep to work-related matters. But if you and the employee have a close relationship, outside of office hours too, there’s more leeway for taking up private matters if they’re affecting work and the employee wants to talk about it.
One last thing before signing off. Remember that employee appraisal interviews should have an effect on your company. They should help you develop in the right direction and to pursue the goals you have set – so think of it as an activity, not just another task.