Conducting Your Next Performance Appraisal
Many managers anticipate annual performance appraisals with an attitude usually reserved for root canal appointments. While a review can be a valuable tool to help your employees advance in their careers and enhance their performance, you may find yourself wondering how to best plan and conduct performance appraisals. Consider these pointers, from the accounting firm Robert Half International, for your next evaluation:
Don’t make it a surprise. Evaluating your staff throughout the year will help keep the lines of communication open so that when it’s time for a formal review, there won’t be any surprises. Employees need your immediate feedback—whether it’s good or not-so-good.
Deliver negative feedback effectively. For any parts of the job that require improvement, offer a solution and provide encouragement. Give your employees examples of how to improve in specific areas so they can remain optimistic.
Reinforce company values. Employees who are clear about your expectations of them and how their daily contributions tie into the company’s goals are the most successful in their jobs. Talking about key business objectives during the appraisal process clarifies each staff member’s role and helps him or her understand the bigger picture.
Consider a self-evaluation. You may want to ask your staff to assess their own strengths and weaknesses prior to their review. Not only does this offer them an opportunity to examine their performance and career path, but it also provides you insight into their perceptions and goals.
Document appraisals in writing. Whether your firm issues standard evaluation forms or you create your own, all comments should be written. It’s a good idea to cite specific examples to support your assessments, whether your feedback is positive or negative.
Keep the tone conversational. Schedule a one-on-one meeting with each employee for at least one hour to avoid being rushed or interrupted. Engage in a two-way dialogue, discussing your employee’s comments as well as your own. Be polite and choose your words wisely, especially if you are discussing areas in which your employee does not meet expectations.
Set goals for the next year. Make sure the goals are in line with your staff member’s career path and tie into your firm’s corporate initiatives. Suggest options for seminars, classes or other professional development. Taking the time to discuss each person’s ambitions also conveys to them that you care about their overall career growth.
Top 10 Pro-Business Movies
The Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC) published its list of Top Ten Pro-Business Movies to coincide with the Academy Awards. Raymond Keating of SBSC observed, “It seems that business executives and owners tend to be portrayed as cheating, greedy and immoral on the silver screen.…Our top ten list includes movies that offer stirring messages about and tributes to entrepreneurs and business; acts of courage and compassion by business owners; simple, positive portrayals of everyday business owners; not to mention, an industrialist as a superhero.”
Here are the movies chosen by SBSC:
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
Schindler’s List (1993)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
White Christmas (1954)
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
The Fountainhead (1949)
Father of the Bride (1991)
SBSC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit small business advocacy group with more than 70,000 members across the nation.
College Grads Want Flexible Hours
Flexible hours are the most sought-after benefit for college students and recent graduates, according to a survey by Jobtrak.com, an online job listing service for students and alumni. After the recent stock market problems, those choosing stock options as their number one incentive fell from 19 percent last year to only 9 percent this year.
More than 1,000 college students and recent graduates responded to the online survey in both 2000 and 2001. They were asked, “Which benefit do you desire most?”
Following are the results of the survey:
|Benefit||January 2001||January 2000|
|More vacation time||15%||13%|
|Ability to telecommute||6%||13%|
|Better health plan||13%||12%|
|Large signing bonus||12%||9%|
Are You Sick of Technology?
The rapid pace of change in today’s business world, accelerated by technology, has placed every level of the corporate structure in perpetual hyper-drive, according to a study reported by Manpower Inc. This highly stressful fusion of change and technology has created a new illness, labeled “technopathology” by psychologists. Clinical psychologist Cindy Wahler explains it this way: Workers are confronted with the continuous learning curve of new technology, while at the same time being bombarded with e-mail and voice mail messages. They feel overloaded and unable to absorb and respond to information with the necessary speed. This environment, coupled with limited downtime, produces the following symptoms:
Physical: Backache, chest pain, headache, insomnia, weight fluctuation
Emotional: Anxiety, volatility, resentment, hopelessness, helplessness, depression
Social: Disconnection, isolation, loneliness
Corporations that have recently introduced more new technology should look for warning signs of technopathology, says Wahler. These include increased absenteeism, diminishing morale and reduced productivity.