I got a note from a reader in Saudi Arabia about using self-appraisals in the performance appraisal process. While there continues to be a faction of the HR community who thinks the performance appraisal ought to be abolished, I believe greater involvement is the key to solving the existing challenges. And getting employees involved in the process is one way of doing it.
Having employees complete a self-appraisal prior to the meeting does several things. First, it gets the employee thinking about their upcoming performance meeting. This meeting shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve actually seen department managers call an employee in with no warning to give them their appraisal. Not good.
Speaking of the meeting, when you give the employee their self-appraisal information, you can also remind employees of the process. If you’re a company that separates the merit increase process from the performance meeting, it’s the perfect time to outline what’s going to happen and when. That way, at the end of the meeting, the employee doesn’t ask about money and a manager won’t have to explain the process. It kinda ruins all the planning that was done in the first place.
I used to give an employee a copy of the last appraisal along with a blank one. They could think about the last meeting as well as what they have accomplished since then. It gives the employee time to think of specific examples to support their self-appraisal.
It also reminds employees of the definitions in each area of the performance appraisal. For example, if your organization measures “quality of work”, what does that mean? Most performance appraisal forms have the definition on the form. The employee is able to digest those definitions prior to the meeting.
During the meeting, the self-appraisal can serve as a discussion point. It can provide valuable insight to ask an employee about their perceptions of their own performance. And let me add, you might want to ask before sharing your own thoughts. Let’s say your organization evaluates attendance. There are two ways the conversation can go:
You plan to give an employee the highest score possible because you feel they do a great job coming to work as scheduled. The employee says they’ve missed a couple days and feels they meet the standard. It’s relatively easy to explain to the employee that they’re being too hard on themselves.
Reverse the situation. The employee explains they deserve the highest rating because their attendance is great. You notice that the employee is 5 minutes late every day. So you don’t want to give them the highest rating but you can live with the 5 minutes late. If you ask the employee first…you get some idea of where they have evaluated themselves. And you can respond accordingly. If you speak first, you run the risk of the employee questioning your rationale.
Important note: One of the best things about a self-evaluation is if the employee mentions something you forgot about, you can change the performance appraisal to incorporate the extra information.
Lastly, having an employee complete a self-evaluation allows the employee to think about their goals and come to the meeting prepared to discuss. The meeting becomes more about the future versus the past. Isn’t this what performance appraisals should really be about anyway?
Employee self-evaluations can create engagement and participation. Does your organization use employee self-evaluation in their performance appraisal process? What’s your experience?