Training for managers on performance appraisals - Enspark

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Training for managers on performance appraisals

January 12, 2023

Performance reviews aren’t the most popular part of most managers’ roles. Some might even dread it. They are also a vital aspect of keeping a team productive and even retaining talent. With proper training for managers on performance appraisals, they can support managers in their roles and an entire team functioning to the best of their ability. 

Training for managers on performance appraisals isn’t just about requiring the completion of a course or reading of a policies and procedures manual right before annual reviews. It is an ongoing process that helps them stay enthusiastic about the task and continually growing in their ability to provide effective feedback to their employees. Here’s how to integrate training into your overall leadership development program and keep your entire organization upbeat about performance reviews. 

Why reviews are important

Many people would probably prefer to leave performance reviews out altogether but when done effectively they support a team to be their best. It is helpful to understand the importance of the performance appraisal process so that you can communicate it to those responsible for completing it. 

Talent enrichment and retention

Employees only play a role in helping the organization succeed when they are performing their role to the best of their ability and growing in their potential. Regular feedback and formal reviews support them in an ongoing process of development as professionals. 

When framed this way, managers and employees alike may begin to look forward to this exchange of feedback more. When I manager conducts reviews effectively, an entire team can thrive. 

Preventing lawsuits 

While not the most positive result of effective performance reviews, that they protect an organization is important to keep in mind. 

The performance review process is often brought up in action taken against a company by an employee. The EEOC, for instance, often uses them as evidence in retaliation claims. If an employee has engaged in a protected activity and can then prove they received negative reviews as a result, it could put the company at risk of a lawsuit. 

Other risks include using biased language in a review, the wrong person conducting a review, alleged favoritism, and more. 

Achieving organizational goals

The only way for an organization to meet goals and benchmarks is for those hired to keep things running to be energized about their roles and living up to expectations set out by its leadership. Performance reviews are a wonderful opportunity to make sure everyone is moving in the direction of achievement for the year. 

Team morale

The morale of a team is crucial to its effectiveness. Communication plays a large part in helping employees feel that they are valued. When team members sense that the process of appraisals is being taken seriously they too will value the opportunity to receive information about their performance. 

When to train managers on performance appraisals 

Performance appraisals are something that even the best and most enthusiastic managers can struggle with. Asking them to spend time completing training in the lead-up to the review period can add stress or resentment to a part of their role that might not be at the top of their “favorites” list. Ongoing training emphasizes the importance of reviews, which can help prevent anyone from feeling they are a waste of time. Here’s why it’s important and how to incorporate training for managers on performance appraisals throughout the year. 

Reviews gone bad

Without a lot of training on preparing and executing performance reviews, managers can fall into nonconstructive pitfalls or allow their biases to lead the way. The HR Bartender outlines five common ways that this shows up during the process: 

  1. Contrast: comparing an employee to other employees rather than company standards. This is risky because it presents the opportunity for biased, negative feedback even if the employee has excelled. 
  2. Halo: judging an employee based on one area they are well-known for doing well on instead of their overall performance. Says the HR Bartender: “I’ve seen this happen with sales people. She hits the numbers and senior leadership loves it. But behind the scenes, she creates havoc and doesn’t have the respect of her co-workers.” 
  3. Horn: giving an overall poor review based on one area of a person’s job they don’t do well. 
  4. Leniency: giving everyone on the team satisfactory ratings and/or skimming through the process just to get it done. Providing ongoing training and proper support is one way to avoid this result of burnout or dread. 
  5. Recency: focusing on the employee’s most recent actions. Proper documentation and focus on constantly gathering information is one way to prevent this performance review pitfall. 

How to train managers on performance appraisals

Because training is best done as an ongoing process it can be done in multiple ways with various formats. Some include: 

Formal training on the process of preparing and providing feedback to an employee

Our course, Performance Reviews: Powerful or Pathetic? Outlines an effective method for managers in a six-step process: 

Check Perspective
Create Alignment
Ensure Clarity
Identify Roadblocks
Frequent Feedback
Take Accountability

A formal course such as this supplies your managers with practical skills for conducting performance reviews and ensures that there is an understanding in the leadership of an organization about what is expected. 

Education on the importance of providing effective feedback and team motivation 

When formal training is combined with ongoing education around the long-term benefits of the performance review and feedback process, managers are more likely to understand the value of this often-tedious part of their role and therefore show up more fully. 

Ongoing education can be simple and spur-of-the-moment or organized and planned. Some ideas include: 

-Sending out an upbeat email with a news article or new study on the importance of effective feedback or team motivation

-Hiring a presenter to come to speak to managers about a related topic

-Recognizing a manager who excels in this area

-Posting tips or information on providing feedback where managers spend time

-Sharing statistics from the organization that relate to performance reviews

-Asking excelling managers to share with others about how they handle performance reviews and various employee feedback issues

Training on organizational policies and structures

If your managers are required to handle performance reviews a detailed structure should be in place that outlines when, where, and how they are expected to perform them. This should include the precise type of feedback they are expected to provide to each employee and how each review is recorded.

Regular training or review of these structures will ensure that the expectations are clear and will go a long way in communicating the importance of the review process. Compare this to sitting them down in the week before the reviews are due and walking them through a boring training on the proper procedures and dry instruction on documentation, etc. Which approach will leave your managers feeling more positive and enthusiastic about conducting performance appraisals? 

Evaluations and dialog 

What follow-up plan do you have in place to support your managers after the reviews are finished? Or to support them in expressing concerns or to be thanked after completing a challenging task? What about evaluating their own performance? 

Talking through things serves to demonstrate to managers the importance of what they have just done and also reminds them that their ability to perform this job function is also being evaluated. Having open discussions about their experience can also serve as valuable training opportunities as it provides the opportunity to share ideas on ways to give effective feedback to employees. 

More leadership resources from our blog:

Giving feedback at work

How managers can help prevent Zoom fatigue

Helping employees find work-life balance

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