Performance Appraisal: How Often Is Enough?

I am often asked how often a manager should give an employee a performance appraisal. My response? All the time! To my way of thinking the job of a manager is to pay attention to an employee’s behavior and performance on a consistent basis and to correct as needed and to praise when appropriate. Unfortunately that seldom happens. Many managers let employees go, waiting for the “annual” performance evaluation. Managers who have been trained, mentored or who have a good manager will handle situations as needed. They realize that if you want the behavior and performance you require for success in the job it has to be reinforced on a consistent basis.
Now when there is behavior that needs to be corrected it definitely needs to be documented and the rules need to be followed. However, even this has to be done at the time and not wait until an official performance review.
Do we need to have OFFICIAL review sessions. Yes, there needs to be a paper trail tied to compensation. Should it be annual? Every six months? Well that answer depends on how often your system and budget allow for compensation changes. This however, should not be the first time all year that the manager has ever said anything about the employee’s performance, good or bad. If it is then shame on that manager. That session should be a review of all the previous discussion and to make sure that discussed corrections have been made. It should be an opportunity to plan what needs to be done in the coming year and what goals need to be set. How you tie it to compensation depends on budget and how your culture works.
One thing is clear. There should be NO surprises at all! Both parties should walk into that session knowing exactly how things are going to go.
Do I think this type of performance management occurs in the real world? Not too often would be my guess. What about you? Does it work this way for you? Do you have some good examples?

9 thoughts on “Performance Appraisal: How Often Is Enough?”

  1. Great post, Michael. Thanks for making two important, but often overlooked points.

    Performance evaluation is part of the day to day work of managers.

    There should be NO surprises on either side at formal appraisal time.

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