A big part of your responsibility as a business owner is to give your team the opportunity to be the best they can be.

One of the systems that give your team members the opportunity to improve is conducting effective appraisals.

If you aren’t doing regular appraisals at the moment, then you should definitely start.

And if you are doing them, make sure you aren’t making this big mistake that could be impacting how much you facilitate the increase in performance of your team members…

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What I’ve come across in my working with business owners is that there are quite a few of them who want to improve the performance of their team members.

There’s this wish, there’s this desire and there is this frustration.

But very few of them I’ve seen are actually willing to put in thought-through time and effort to create those systems which will actually help people deliver better.

One of those systems which I believe in, and our clients focus on, is appraisals.

Appraisals Can Feel Like They Just Don’t Work

Now appraisals are not something which is a one-way channel. It’s a two-way channel. More importantly, you as a manager, as a leader, you’re creating a platform, a time and space, where people are reflecting on what’s going well and where they need to improve.

So based on this discussion, I supported a client with all the templates and structures. Gave them the best way to actually ask the questions and have this process done the in the rightest manner.

Then this client came back to me literally straightaway after this appraisal and said, “Shweta, oh my god, this just doesn’t work. I was so excited about the whole appraisal. This was the first time I was doing it, the whole year-end appraisal and you know I just spent time talking about the salary! And why I can’t give the salary height this person wants. And they actually left the meeting feeling very disgruntled and very upset. I don’t think this whole thing works.”

Now you can understand right? I mean you go in all motivated all excited and then the meeting does not go per your expectations I can totally understand where the client was coming from.

The Big Mistake Most Business Owners Make Conducting Appraisals

So, we sat down in the meeting next time and I said, “Okay fine, let’s just go through this, how did you go about this?”

So he said, “I called the person, I told them this is the appraisal, and they have to fill out a form. I sat down, you know, with a template that you gave me and I really asked the questions properly.

“However, midway we started talking about salary. And you know and the person got upset that actually I had not thought about their rise salary. You know they wanted to talk about their promotion and things like that. And you know they just looked very unhappy.”

So I told him about where the improvement needs to happen for the next time or where the mistake has happened in this appraisal.

What you have not done successfully is the positioning.

Appraisals Are About Performance – So Set It Up That Way

What I mean by that, is that you have to position and explain to your team member that when you are doing an appraisal, the focus is on their performance. The focus is on what’s going well and what is it they need to improve, what support they need, and are they clear about where the company’s heading.

The purpose of the appraisal is to be a reflection time for themselves, and you’re facilitating that discussion.

The appraisal is not a salary discussion opportunity time. It’s not. If that’s the agenda, then it’s a separate discussion that needs to happen.

Therefore you as a manager or as a leader need to clarify this to your team member. In this meeting, this is what we are going to be doing. The salary revisions, the salary discussions, the salary hikes, all that bit will be done separately, or we will be looking at it during a particular month. So they are very clear that this is not the agenda this is not the objective.

When you come to a certain meeting the agendas have to be very aligned and you have to be very clear what’s the outcome.

It’s your job as a business owner to pre-empt the possible confusion or wrong expectation and therefore align the team member with the objective and make sure that the outcome is realized the right way.

And Then The Appraisals Were Happy Ever After

Now the good news here is, once the business owner was clear, he went back and for the remaining team members he re-clarified and re-positioned.

This time he had a great experience and team members appreciated the fact that he had taken out some time from his busy diary to sit down with them to reflect on how they were doing and how they could be supported even more.

So please make sure that you have the structures and systems and you are making time to invest in your team.

More importantly, when you’re trying to do something good it’s your job to position to pre-empt any misalignment. Because the alignment and the team is super important.