For first-time managers, moving into a formal leadership role can be fraught with challenges. There is immense pressure to not only perform their existing duties, but also deliver results as a newly appointed manager. One of the key tasks that a first-time manager is entrusted with is conducting annual performance reviews of team members. This can prove to be daunting as it requires a good understanding of the company appraisal process as well as the nuances of individual performances during the course of the year.
If you are first-time manager, here are some tips to overcome five key challenges that plague the appraisal process:
1. Seek learning & development opportunities: A majority of first-time managers typically do not receive any training when they transition into their first leadership role. Request to take company approved performance appraisal training sessions to have a better understanding and appreciation for the process. If such a program does not exist, consult with HR and seek their help. While you can hone skills such as evaluating performance and delivering feedback over time, attending a training program or asking HR for help can fast-track the process and set you in the right direction.
2. Communicate throughout the year: Keeping all communication channels open and figuring out ways to communicate in order to achieve the best outcome can seem challenging in the beginning. However, understanding and clearly communicating with employees during the year through multiple touch points has its advantages.
3. Prepare ahead and use relevant documentation: Start preparing for the appraisal meeting by setting specific timelines and compiling relevant data, including employee self-assessment and external feedback. Lack of enough preparation or alignment with and business goals, may result in less than optimal discussions and outcomes. Consider using Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-based (SMART) goals to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and how their performance will be measured.
4. Take steps to win employee trust: Employees may be unsure of your appraisal skills as a first-time manager and feel that you may not do justice to their appraisal due to lack of experience. To overcome this stumbling block and bridge the gap between you and your team members, undertake various employee engagement and team building activities during the course of year. The more insights your team members have into your skills, the more trust and respect they are likely to have in your performance appraisal capabilities.
5. Conflict management and feedback delivery: As a first-time manager, you may tend to avoid conflict or confrontation by not providing negative or constructive performance feedback. To ensure consistent delivery of the constructive feedback, concentrate on the tasks that an employee has performed well, resulting in outcomes that align with the company’s business objectives. Clear communication can help in explaining the reasons behind the appraisal and set the right expectations, enabling poor performers to improve areas that are not well aligned with business goals.
Don’t leave employees hanging - follow through after the review
In order to improve employee performance or engagement, you need to break up long appraisal cycles by providing multiple checkpoints throughout the year. According to a report from Gallup, only 19% of millennials reported to have received consistent feedback. It’s important to realize that an annual or a bi-annual meeting does not signal the end of the appraisal process. Setting up both formal and casual follow up sessions can help you stay abreast of employee performance to enable course corrections as needed.