I recently ran across my performance appraisal written 15 years ago when I was the risk manager for an
As talent disappears through retirement and disability, we must make the best use of our available employee resources. Performance appraisals, next to intelligent hiring, are one of the most important tools in your risk management kit. However, few companies utilize performance assessments to their full capacity.
Here are a few tips from risk managers to get the most out of your performance appraisal process.
Cite specific examples. Pull out that file you have kept on employees for the past year with their hits and errors. Then, seek feedback about your employee from his or her coworkers and reports, keeping employees who may be reticent about revealing their identity out of the mix when possible. While an employee may seem like a high performer to you, you may find others feel quite differently and are able to back up their complaints with examples.
Focus on issues that may expose your organization to liability. For example, many employees are disorganized, but what irreversible damage is likely done as a result? On the other hand, a supervisor who borders on harassing employees under her command or a manager who allows one employee to abuse the system while he disciplines others for similar infractions invites litigation.
Consider the overall tone of your appraisal. If you feel enthusiastic about an employee, be sure it comes across in the document. Conversely, if an employee isn’t cutting it, make sure that point is clear and timelines for improvement are built into the appraisal.
Don’t delay reviews. Nothing sends a more demoralizing message to employees than postponed reviews. Delays tell employees, “We don’t care about you.”
Tie safety to satisfactory performance. If you furnish the employee with accurate training, safety equipment and reminders yet he or she cannot performance the job functions safely, you have a problem employee. No matter how much revenue employees generate or how important an employee seems to your bottom line, don’t excuse unsafe performance.
Don’t rely solely on the annual review to provide feedback. If an employee is surprised by a comment on the annual review, the supervisor has failed. The most successful supervisors provide employees with frequent input. “Hey, you did a great job on that presentation,” or, “That end run you did around the purchasing department really had repercussions throughout our division,” means more to your employee immediately than months down the road when dredged up on a performance review. Frequent input allows employees to make small “corrections to course” like pilots use when they find they are off course.
Talk about the future. Top performing supervisors use performance appraisals as a chance to discuss the employee’s future. Agree on the job skills your employee needs to get where he or she wants to go in the organization and focus on helping employees build those skills.
Provide follow up and encouragement. If performance needs correction, set timelines to ensure the employee improves performance. Failure to ensure improved performance after a negative performance appraisal can come back to bite you. If a claim emerges either by or against the employee as a result of his or her behavior, negative performance remarks that you ignored leaves your organization wide open to liability.
Performance appraisals are one of the most dreaded of all management tasks. Used correctly, they can help limit your organization’s liability and ensure that you retain valuable workers and winnow out those who consistently fall short of your standards.