Businesses do not have to have an employee assessment system in place by law. However, the benefits of an appraisal system can be seen immediately:
- They require an employee to focus on the work at hand and to reflect on their progress;
- They give the supervisors / manager a chance to assess an employees’ work;
- Both the employee and supervisor / manager can create a short term and long term plan of action for the employee;
- The employee receives vital feedback and will feel focused and encouraged, therefore increasing work efficiency;
- The employee and supervisor can assess the potential of the employee and look at possibilities for promotion and / or growth in the employees’ career.
It is essential to have written records of the assessment to provide feedback to an employee and to allow more senior management to monitor the effectiveness of the assessment system. Most employee assessment forms should contain provision for:
- Basic personal details - name, department, post, length of time in the job;
- Job title;
- Job description - a job title and a brief description of the main objectives and duties of the job. It helps assessors to focus attention on the employee's performance at work and to avoid assessing character;
- Ratings - Ratings list a number of factors to be assessed such as quality and output of work, which are then rated on a numerical scale according to level of performance, for example.
- 1 Outstanding;
- 2 Exceeds requirements of the job;
- 3 Meets the requirements of the job;
- 4 Shows some minor weaknesses;
- 5 Shows some significant weaknesses;
- 6 Unacceptable;
- The rating scales method is easy to construct, use and understand. However, there is a tendency to bunch the ratings around the average point and lack precision;
- General comments by a more senior manager;
- Comments by the employee;
- A plan for development and action.
Some appraisal techniques:
- Rating - employee characteristics are rated on a scale which may range from 'outstanding' to unacceptable;
- Comparison with objectives – An employee and their manager agree objectives and determine whether they have been met at the next assessment;
- This method can be more participative - it gives an employee the chance to agree their objectives and enables self appraisal;
- Critical incidents - The appraiser records incidents of employees' positive and negative behaviour during a given period;
- The method can be time consuming and burdensome and it can result in an employee feeling that everything they do is being observed. The critical incidents method is useful as a supplement to other techniques;
- Narrative report - The appraiser describes the individual's work performance in his or her own words;
- This requires the assessor to describe the individual's work performance and behaviour in his or her own words. Narrative reporting is flexible and can enable the appraiser to gear the report to specific circumstances. However, its effectiveness depends largely on the literary ability of the assessor!
A procedure for employees to appeal against their assessment through a grievance procedure is necessary. Appeals should be made to a more senior manager than the assessor.
The appraisal interview:
- An employee should be given adequate notice of the assessment. Self assessment forms can help them prepare;
- At least one hour should be set aside for the interview;
- The assessor should suggest ways in which the employee's good work can be continued and how he or she can achieve further improvement;
- Both parties should discuss how far agreed objectives have been met and agree future objectives.
The structure of the interview
The interviewer should:
- Explain the purpose and scope of the interview;
- Discuss the job in terms of its objectives and demands;
- Encourage the employee to discuss his or her strengths and weaknesses;
- Discuss how far agreed objectives have been met;
- Agree future objectives;
- Discuss any development needs appropriate to the existing job or the individual's future in the organisation, for example: training, education, work experience;
- Summarise the plans which are agreed.