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The performance appraisal question and answer book





The Importance of Performance AppraisalWhat is "performance appraisal"?Where did performance appraisals come from?What is the purpose of performance appraisal?The performance management process in our organization has conflicting purposes. We use it to determine merit increases and performance feedback for work done during the previous twelve months, to determine training needs, and as a key tool in succession planning. Can one procedure really serve all those functions well?How many meetings should I have with an employee to talk about performance?All these meetings take too much time. Why should I spend all this time doing performance appraisal when I've got much better things to do?If performance appraisal is truly important, why is it the butt of so many jokes and the target of Dilbert cartoons?W. Edwards Deming, the quality guru, said that performance appraisals were an organizational evil that should be abolished. Was he wrong?Even if they try to be objective, managers can't help but discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, and other illegal considerations. Isn't performance appraisal actually a very biased process?What are the legal requirements for a performance appraisal system?How do I make sure that our performance appraisal system is legally defensible?Is performance appraisal really necessary? Can't the benefits that the system provides to organizations and the people in them be obtained any other way?Performance PlanningWhat is "performance planning"?What are the manager's responsibilities in the performance-planning phase of the process?What are the employee's responsibilities for performance planning?When is the best time to set and review expectations?I have never held a performance-planning meeting. How do I get the planning meeting off to a good start?What is the difference between results and "behaviors"?How do you determine someone's key job responsibilities?Some big rocks may be bigger than others; some key job responsibilities are more critical than others. How do you determine the most important items?How do you determine a method for evaluating someone's performance in meeting their key responsibilities?Descriptive measures seem subjective. Don't we have to be objective when we evaluate someone's performance?Where does goal setting fit into the performance-planning process?How do I pick the right goals? Where should an individual look to find goals and objectives?How should a goal statement be written?What are SMART objectives?How high should I set my performance expectations?What do I do if the individual disagrees with the goals I want set, or says that my standards are unreasonable, or that one of the key job responsibilities I've identified is not really part of the job?How do I wrap up a performance-planning meeting?Performance ExecutionWhat is "performance execution"?What are the manager's responsibilities in the performance execution phase?What are the employee's responsibilities in the performance execution phase?How should I keep track of employees' performance? Should I keep a journal? And should I record day-to-day performance or just note the exceptional positive and negative events?Should employees have access to my performance log?How do I motivate people to deliver good performance and to correct performance problems?What about pay? Isn't money the only thing that really motivates?What can a manager do to create the conditions that motivate?What about recognition? Isn't recognizing an employee who's done good work an effective motivational tool?We're considering starting an employee-of-the-month program. Is this a good recognition tool?Do people need praise every time they do a good job?I don't have a budget for awards to recognize people. How can I recognize their good performance if I can't demonstrate financially that we appreciate good work?Is recognition just a matter of heaping on the praise?How do I actually use recognition? Is there more to it than just saying, Thanks ... nice job"?Won't some peoplethe better performersend up getting more recognition than others who don't perform as well? Isn't that discriminatory?Won't people complain when I deliberately treat some people better than others? Won't I be accused of favoritism?Performance AssessmentWhat is "performance assessment"?What are the manager's responsibilities for performance assessment?What are the employee's responsibilities in the performance assessment phase?What are my boss's responsibilities in the performance assessment phase? Does she have to review and approve my appraisals before I deliver them to my staff?Should I ask the individual whose performance appraisal I am preparing to make up a list of accomplishments?Should I ask the individual to complete a self-appraisal using the company's performance appraisal form?I have to write a performance appraisal. Where do I start?What information do I need to write a valid performance appraisal?What about collecting data from other people to use on the performance appraisal form? Would it be a good idea to ask for information from a salesman's customers, or ask a manager's subordinates about her performance as a supervisor?I've asked the employee to write a self-appraisal. Should I use what the employee has written in the self-appraisal as part of the official appraisal I'm writing?Should I put more emphasis on the results the individual achieved or on the way the person went about doing the job?One of my subordinates works in a different city and I don't see her very much. How can I appraise her performance accurately?Should I include the employee's successes and failures in completing the development plan as part of his formal performance appraisal?What are "rating errors "?Should I go over the employee's appraisal with my manager before I review it with the individual?How do I go about convincing my boss (assuming her approval is needed) that one of my people deserves a particularly positive or negative review?If the appraiser's boss approves the appraisal before the employee sees it, hasn't the door been closed on the possibility of any changes?Tell Me MoreThe individual failed to achieve an important objective, but there were extenuating circumstances. How should I rate her performance?In writing the individual's performance appraisal, should I consider how well he performs compared with other people in the department who are doing the same job?Our performance appraisal form has a rating scale that asks whether the performance failed to meet expectations/met some expectations/met all expectations/exceeded expectations/far exceeded expectations. If I haven't discussed my expectations with the employee, how do I rate performance?Our rating scale is numerical: one, two, three, four, and five, with five being the highest on the scale. Sally basically did a good job this year. Should I rate her a three, a four, or a five?Should employees in new roles be measured and evaluated the same as employees who have been in a role for a length of time?How can we take the "personal'' out of a review and still give an accurate picture of the employee? For example, Joe's going through a divorce. His performance has suffered, but I empathize and want to give him a passing review.One of my subordinates does a very good job ... not breathtakingly outstanding, but solid and strong and better than average. Should I rate her in our middle category of fully successful or push her evaluation over the line and into the superior category? How do I figure out the right category?I have a concern about one of my people's performance, but I haven't previously discussed it with him. Is it okay to bring it up for the first time on the performance appraisal?Performance ReviewWhat is "performance review"?What are the manager's responsibilities in the performance review phase of the process?What are the employee's responsibilities in the performance review phase?What should I do before the meeting?Before I sit down to conduct an appraisal discussion with an individual, is it appropriate to talk with others to get some insights into what I might expect?How should I open the discussion?How do I start the appraisal discussion with an individual who has a great deal of experience and has worked for the company much longer than I have?It's easy to discuss the performance appraisal when the individual and I are in agreement. But what do I do when we disagree about something important?How do I figure out what the employee is feeling?How can I get someone to agree with an honest and accurate performance appraisal rating?The employee I'm about to review is an unsatisfactory performer and the appraisal tells it like it is. How should I start the meeting?What do I do when an employee disagrees with something I have written on the performance appraisal?How do I handle those awkward moments that always seem to arise in performance appraisal discussions? For example, the employee who is silent, or makes excuses, or turns the conversation around so that we are caught up in irrelevancies?How do I handle defensive reactions?How should I react when an employee starts crying during the appraisal discussion ... or gets mad at me?When should I talk about the pay increase?How do I bring the performance appraisal discussion to a successful close?What's the best way to deal with an employee who refuses to sign the performance appraisal document and refuses to provide his own comments?The Performance Appraisal FormIs there an ideal performance appraisal form?How does a company determine which competencies are truly core competencies?Why is it better to write the narrative that explains what is meant by a competency as a description of master-level performance? Wouldn't a dictionary definition work just as well?What's the difference between organizational core competencies and job family competencies?How do I determine the key job responsibilities of a position?Aren't goals and projects part of a person's job responsibilities? Why does an ideal appraisal form have a separate section for goals and projects?The last part of the recommended performance appraisal form covers the individual's major accomplishments over the course of the appraisal period. Shouldn't the individual's achievements be described throughout the appraisal form?Are there any other elements that could be included on a performance appraisal form?How many different forms should there be?How many rating levels should there be on the form?What should we call the different levels? Does it make any difference whether we use words or numbers?Should we use different rating scales for assessing different areas within the form?Should the form provide for putting different weights on the various sections?Should the form provide a recommended distribution of performance appraisal ratings?Some computer-based performance appraisal systems offer an electronic form with different traits listed: quality of work, quantity of work, attitude, or dependability. The manager clicks on a one to five scale and then the machine generates the text for the appraisal. Are these programs a good idea?Most people do a good jobnot outstanding, not unacceptableand therefore get rated in the middle category. But they all hate getting rated there. They see it as being labeled as a "C" student. How do we explain that getting the middle rating is not a bad thing?The Performance Appraisal ProcessWhat does an effective performance appraisal process look like?We're getting ready to design a completely new performance appraisal system from scratch. Where should we start?What should top management, appraisers, employees, and human resources professionals expect from a performance appraisal system?What kind of training do managers need to do a good performance appraisal?Do we need to provide training to employees about our performance appraisal process?Should we provide managers with samples of completed appraisal forms that they can use as models when they have to prepare performance appraisals?How can an organization determine whether its managers are doing a good job in performance appraisal and that the system is working well?Both appraisers and employees are confused about what the different rating labels actually mean. How do we solve this communication problem?Managers don't seem to understand all the things that they need to do and end up waiting until the last minute to meet their performance appraisal activities. Human resources then ends up playing policeman. What can HR do to help them do a better job?We use a lot of self-directed work teams in our organization. Should we evaluate team performance in addition to the performance of individuals? And how do we evaluate the performance of teams?We are concerned that people who perform the same may get different ratings from different supervisors. How can we make sure that appraisers apply consistent standards across our organization?What Is upward appraisal?Should forced ranking be part of our performance appraisal procedure?We are considering either turning our existing performance appraisal form into an Internet-based application or purchasing a web-based performance appraisal system. Is either a good idea?Building Performance ExcellenceWhat does building performance excellence involve?What influences an individual's development?How do I determine where I, or someone on my team, should concentrate development efforts?Why is the achievement orientation competency so important?Why is the competency of impact and influence so important?How do I create a development plan that works ... one that actually produces results?Isn't development the responsibility of the individual? What are the manager's responsibilities for developing subordinates?Most development plans seem to involve little more than just signing up for training programs. Where does training fit into a development plan?How can I use the job itself as a developmental experience?Should I evaluate the employee's success in completing his development plan as part of the performance appraisal?I have an employee whose performance is not acceptable. I have had one or two informal conversations with him, but nothing's changed. What should I do?How do I identify exactly what the gap is between the desired performance and the employee's actual performance?How do I make sure that I'm on solid ground before beginning the discussion about poor performance?How do I get the discussion off to a good start?How do I get someone to agree to change and correct a problem?How do I document a performance improvement discussion?The individual's quality and quantity of work are okay. It's his attitude that's the problem. How do I solve an attitude problem?The individual's performance is very good, but her attendance record is spotty. How do I convince someone that we need to come to work, on time, every day?Our discipline system seems harsh and inappropriate for professional employees with its warnings and reprimands and suspensions without pay. Is there a better approach?Why should we suspend the employee as a final step of our discipline system? Why not just issue a final written warning, or create a performance improvement plan, or place the individual on probation?If a suspension is the best final step strategy, why should we pay the employee for the time he is away on suspension?Will Discipline Without Punishment work in my organization?One Final QuestionNow that all is said and done, is performance appraisal really all that important?About the Author
 
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