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Is it A-P-O-P time?

Posted by Joanne on January 6, 2011 Comments Off

A number of years ago I read an article about performance appraisals and one person called the process in his organization the “A-P-O-P,” which translated to “Annual Piece Of Paper!” I laughed when I read it and it stuck in my mind as that acronym reflects cynicism that is often attached to the performance review process. An “Annual Piece of Paper” doesn’t sound like anything worthwhile, does it? Unfortunately, many organizations implement a system with little thought. When this happens it becomes an A-P-O-P that is looked upon with dread,  indifference, or cynicism.

A well planned performance appraisal system isn’t just an A-P-O-P. It is not just a form that needs to be completed. It’s not just a once a year thing. It’s an ongoing process by which organizations evaluate employee performance that results in organization success. It gives employees a sense of direction and accomplishment.

Ten Tips for Creating Performance Appraisals that POP!

  1. Purpose: Understand and define the purpose and uses of the performance appraisal system. Will it be used for performance improvement, compensation adjustments, promotions or transfer decisions, training and development, career and succession planning, and gaps in staffing?
  2. Link to Company Goals: Link the performance appraisal system to company mission, values, and annual goals. Make sure you have organizational goals so you can measure success at all levels.
  3. Employee Participation: Ensure you obtain employee input when designing the performance appraisal system so there is buy-in and acceptance. For example, use a focus group to set performance standards and measures that are acceptable and understood by employees.
  4. Adapt to Competencies: Use multiple competencies and criteria. Evaluation isn’t a one form fit all design. For example, managers should be evaluated on management capabilities, and sales people on sales capabilities. This is where technology comes in handy (see #10).
  5. Two-way Communication: Ensure the process encourages two-way communication and 360 degree feedback from multiple sources. This results in a balanced evaluation with good examples.
  6. Past and Future Directed: Focus the performance appraisal on past and on future performance. Reflect on past year performance and set goals for the future.
  7. Ongoing: Make sure the performance appraisal system isn’t a “snap shot” once a year. The system should allow for ongoing encouragement, feedback and adjustments as priorities or new challenges and opportunities occur over the full year.
  8. Train and Educate: Train managers, supervisors and employees on the performance appraisal process. Teach them how to set achievable but challenging goals, and to give feedback using clear examples.
  9. Evaluate: Ask for feedback to evaluate the performance appraisal process itself. Make relevant changes when necessary.
  10. Technology: Use technology to help keep everyone on track, link department and individual goals to organizational objectives, and provide a dashboard on how the company is performing. Technology reduces paper, increases efficiency, and helps “quarterback” the review process throughout the year by sending out reminders! It allows the performance appraisal process to become more collaborative and therefore more significant!

A great performance appraisal system will reduce cynicism, apathy, and stress. It will help everyone move in the same direction. There is nothing worse than working on what you think is important to the organization only to find out too late that it wasn’t! Good performance appraisals ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them, how they will be measured, and how they will be rewarded when performance standards and goals are met or exceeded. This results in engaged and energized employees who know their performance and actions are valued.

If you would like help in setting up a performance appraisal process that will POP and will start the New Year off in a positive manner, then give us a call. We’ll help you align employee performance to company objectives and we’ll train your people to reduce anxiety and stress about the process.

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 Joanne Royce

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