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April 20, 2009

Stressed out over Performance Reviews?

Filed under: Performance Management1:04 pm

Would you rather go to the dentist than spend days filling out performance appraisal forms or meet with your boss to have your performance review? Are you an HR professional responsible for administering the employee performance management program in your company and the mere thought of the upcoming evaluation cycle has your stomach twisted in knots? The entire performance review process can be stressful, threatening, and unproductive. So what can you do to minimize your anxiety, make the process useful to you, and make a positive impression on your boss?

I. If Possible, Participate in Developing Your Goals and Development Plan


Willing and enthusiastic participation in the appraisal process conveys a positive impression and demonstrates that you want to improve and contribute to the organization. Participating in the process also gives you some control, helps incorporate your input, and lets you evaluate yourself on things you think are the most important and fair.

Your involvement lets you be proactively involved in your own career development and planning. It lets you make your feelings known regarding the responsibilities you’d like to undertake and plan what you need to do to get there. Productive dialogue about your job can also improve communication and perhaps your relationship with your manager. Finally, your manager should appreciate your involvement. It can make his or her job easier.

Start by learning how your boss measures success. Ask him or her what department goal(s) you can contribute towards achieving through your position. Map at least one of your performance goals to align and support the success of the department. If there are employees reporting to you, discuss the key performance goals of the department. Help your staff understand how department goals integrate with and contribute towards the success of the company.

II. Work on Your Appraisal Throughout the Year


Don’t wait until your appraisal meeting to get involved in the review process. Understand how you will be appraised including what factors (or competencies) and goals will be included, how they will be defined, which are weighted more heavily, and which are the most important to your boss. Make sure you know how your success will be measured and how you can effectively demonstrate that you have met or exceeded your assignments. Know what kind of information to gather and collect. For example, if your goal is to achieve a certain percent improvement in a given area, then communicate progress and status in terms of percentage.

Remember that a key part of your appraisal success is for you to understand your boss’s personality, management style and what he or she values most. Some goals and activities are more important to your organization and your boss than others. Make sure that you identify those and focus your time and energy on them.

It is very important to know what tool and process your company uses to document reviews. Know what kind of information and rating criteria your boss will be using to evaluate you. Print out a hard copy of your goals and refer to it regularly. Keep an electronic or hard copy file of documentation that relates to your performance. Be sure to communicate your progress and successes throughout the year. If you’ve completed certain tasks, make it known. While you don’t want to be seen as obnoxiously self-promoting, managers aren’t always aware of the good things you do and appreciate being provided accurate, dated, and detailed information to include in an employee appraisal. If you’re having trouble completing something, or priorities have changed, make that known as well. It’s better to keep your boss informed along the way so that goals, deadlines or tasks can be altered as situations require. Don’t wait until your appraisal meeting to convey that you didn’t finish a goal.

If you are responsible for documenting evaluations for staff, it is doubly important to not only maintain a file of information on your performance but to also make notes and keep a file for each of your employees.

III. Prepare for the Appraisal Meeting


Be aware of schedules and submission deadlines for completing documentation-and then be on time. If your organization uses employee self-appraisal, evaluate yourself honestly but be sure to provide enough support (e.g., through additional comments) to justify your assessment. If your company uses an online employee performance management system, it may be to your advantage to set aside some time away from your work environment and complete the self-evaluation from a home computer when you are not rushed and have more privacy. Putting some time into your appraisal shows your commitment and enhances your credibility.

Think about your performance over the past year. What was your most significant accomplishment? Where have you shown the most improvement? List what you’ve achieved and how you’ve met your goals. Determine the areas in which you displayed your greatest strengths? Consider what could be done to build upon these strengths. But also be prepared to discuss your weaknesses and areas that you would like to improve upon. You may also want to consider the types of training, equipment or help that you might need to be more effective. Be prepared to discuss your future goals. And, finally, put some thought into your career plans and development.

IV. The Meeting

Stay calm. As an employee remember that your boss is probably nervous too as it’s difficult to give employees feedback. As a manager, remember to keep the meeting focused on performance. If you will be making any critical remarks, remember to be prepared with relevant examples to support your position. The better prepared you are going into the meeting the less emotional it should become. Poise and professionalism are critical, even if you really disagree with what is being said. Go into the meeting with several points you want to make regarding your past performance and with the attitude that you’d like to come out of the meeting with 2 or 3 things you’d like to work on.

Generally the best employees want to continually improve, know that they can do better and are often dissatisfied with their performances. Try not to be defensive about criticism or suggestions for improvement. If you think they’re appropriate, graciously accept them. If you think they’re out of line you may want to politely disagree and indicate you will give them some thought. If nothing else you now clearly know what’s important to your manager so you’ll know what to focus on in the next review period.

If you’ve had some problems or less than flattering incidents, complaints about you, or coworker problems you may want to acknowledge them but then try to distinguish them from the rest of your performance. You’ll want to make clear that they really don’t reflect your overall performance and that you’ve taken steps to ensure they don’t happen again.

After the meeting think about what was said and how you will implement any necessary changes or attack your goals. You may want to summarize the meeting, outline how you intend to accomplish what was said, and give it to your manager.

Facts About Employee Performance Management

1.     Buy in: Only 13% of employees and managers believe their existing employee performance management (EPM) program is beneficial or effective in measuring and improving performance.

2.     Success starts at the top: The leading components of a successful performance management program are senior management support and a corporate culture that values and rewards achievement.

3.     Competitive pressure: Successful and emerging companies are looking to maintain their leadership by implementing automated, results oriented performance management solutions that link and measure individual and departmental performance against strategic company objectives.

4.     Employee retention: To keep up with demand for skilled employees and increased competitive pressures, companies are finding they must make significant changes in how they approach and structure their employee performance management program to attract and retain employees. Employees want to understand the big picture, and how their role contributes to the success of the company.

5.     Increased awareness and accountability: Employees perform better and work more effectively when they understand what is required to be successful in their jobs. Having documented position-based competencies and individual performance goals that the manager and employee agree upon at the beginning of an appraisal period motivate and empower employees towards a higher level of performance.

6.     Automation: Automated employee performance management solutions are being implemented by companies at an unprecedented rate. In the white paper entitled “The Future is Now for Talent Management” (June 2006), the Yankee Group HR Technology Research Director, Jason Corsello writes, “Yankee Group forecasts the growth of talent management applications will nearly double by 2009 . . . over 2300 companies worldwide adopted some form of talent management technology in 2005. Many organizations are attracted toward talent management solutions based on low up-front costs, limited deployment risks and a predictable pricing model.”

7.     Increased efficiency and productivity: Centrally administered, automated EPM systems considerably reduce HR administration time by automating time consuming administrative tasks like notification, routing, approvals, filing, status changes, rating levels, comparative analysis, and reporting. Additionally, with a centrally administered, automated EPM solution, employees, appraisers, and administrators can access the system from any location at any time.

8.     Performance history: When considering an employee for promotion, succession planning, or other staff action, a centralized employee performance history file is imperative. Rarely can one annual review period provide a complete picture of an employees’ performance, growth, and potential. EPM systems that centrally collect and archive historical performance data provide strategic value and lessen liability in event of legal actions.

About Performance Pro

Performance Pro is an online, automated, and customizable, employee performance appraisal system designed by HR professionals for companies requiring a flexible and easy to use employee development and evaluation tool.

Over 600 companies trust their employee performance management program to Performance Pro. Performance Pro clients range in size from 10 to 6000 employees in a wide variety of industries including financial services, public sector, government, technology, manufacturing, education, hospitality, insurance, legal, pharmaceutical and many more.

Performance Pro provides all the features and tools required to effectively and quickly implement a world-class employee performance management program. Features include secure online access, employee home page, electronic HR forms and tools, appraisal routing, cascading goals, term customization, weighted performance factors, e-mail notification, manager comment coaching, optional multi-appraiser module, and much more.

The Performance Pro pricing model is straight forward with no added costs for content, maintenance, hosting, or support. Everything is included in one affordable cost based simply on the number of employee licenses needed.

Companies interested in learning more about automated employee performance management may obtain a free 30-day trial account or attend an online product demonstration by visiting


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