Performance appraisal periods are a problematic time for many businesses. While they are necessary for efficient operation of the business, the disruption they cause to staff can cause serious problems.

There are ways to make the process easier if handled with care.

Here are 7 great tips to help you with performance appraisals.

Put the emphasis on assessment

The major problem area in appraising staff is the pressure involved. Staff often feel that they are likely to be reprimanded for poor outcomes or assigned blame. Emphasising assessment means thoughtfully reflecting on performance. The outcome is an appraisal which correctly identifies the worker’s strengths and weaknesses, helping to produce a plan to take advantage of one and work on the other.

Take the emphasis off salary

Although appraisals are a great time to allocate bonuses, money can cloud the issues at hand. It can have a counterproductive effect. Staff who are keen to boost their salaries will tend to put the best light on things, rather than objectively analysing their performance.

Avoid comparisons

Unless you have a dream team, some workers will perform better than others. Appraisals should be about getting the best work out of an individual worker. Assessing staff against each other can undermine morale and teamwork.

Don’t be afraid to look at the little things

Your staff may get the work done, but ignore smaller things. A worker who is constantly late for team meetings or who never replies to emails is causing problems in your business. These things should be identified as areas for improvement.

Have systems in place to deal with problems

Many companies analyse appraisal outcomes to determine what steps need to be taken. It can be more useful to have some structures in place before the appraisals begin. That way, if a staff member raises an issue, the assessor is able to deal with it immediately.

Train managers

While performance appraisal is a management skill, it’s not one that necessarily comes naturally. Even the best managers need guidance when unpicking their staff’s performance.

Allow preparation time

Appraisals that are conducted at the last minute produce uncertain results. If you really want to know how your worker is coping with their job, you need to give them time for reflection. A questionnaire can be a useful tool to guide their thoughts before they arrive at the appraisal meeting.