What kind of training do managers need to do a good performance appraisal?

Depending on the complexity of the system, the sophistication of the managers attending training, and their previous management development experiences, conventional classroom-based appraiser training for managers requires between one-half day and two full days.

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Although the objectives and content of the training vary depending on the organization and the structure of its performance appraisal system, these are the knowledge and skills that any effective performance appraisal training program should provide managers:

- A complete understanding of the forms and administrative procedures, including the reasons for developing the new system and the specific design of the forms

- The ability to determine the key responsibilities of all subordinates' jobs and the appraiser's own job

- The ability to create and gain agreement on specific, challenging, and measurable goals

- The ability to create an infectious sense of enthusiasm and commitment to the organization's overall mission and the specific goals of their department

- Knowledge of the factors that actually generate motivation and the ability to use those factors to increase both job performance and satisfaction

- The willingness to set demanding standards of performance and to muscle-build the organization to achieve excellent results

- The ability to accurately evaluate an individual's strengths and weaknesses, particularly in hard-to-measure professional and knowledge-worker jobs

- The ability to complete the forms easily and accurately

- The ability to discuss a performance evaluation in a way that removes defensiveness, builds good working relationships, and leads to genuine change

- The ability to identify an individual's development needs and the skills needed to help that person come up with a workable plan that will improve performance

- The ability to identify that small minority of employees whose retention is critical to ongoing organization success and to apply appropriate retention tactics

- The ability and encouragement to identify that small minority of noncontributors and confront them with the requirement that they either change or leave

Do we need to provide training to employees about our performance appraisal process?

Yes. Although the training for employees does not have to be nearly as long or as detailed as the training provided managers (mainly because the skills required by the recipient of a performance appraisal are quite different from the skills required by an appraiser), it's a good idea to hold a training or orientation program for all employees to introduce the new system.

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Sixty to ninety minutes is an appropriate amount of time to set for an employee overview of a new performance appraisal program. In addition to the orientation presentation, however, it's a good idea to give everyone copies of the new forms, copies of the administrative guidelines and procedures, and perhaps a set of frequently asked questions about the new system and its design.

At the end of an effective employee orientation program, each non-supervisory employee of the organization should:

- Understand the reasons why the organization decided to develop a new performance management system

- Understand all of the elements of the form (e.g., organizational core competencies, job family competencies, key job responsibilities, goals, rating scales)

- Understand the specific benefits that a new performance management system will provide to him or her personally

- Understand how this program operationalizes the organization's mission statement and/or vision and values

- Understand his or her individual responsibilities in each phase of the performance management system

- Understand, accept, and enthusiastically support the focus on performance excellence encouraged by the program

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