'Tis The Season For Appraisals

By Steph Corking

At this time of year, in many organisations, it’s the time for the dreaded end of year appraisal.

Managers are frantically running around asking people for 360 feedback on their employees, employees are frantically gathering information on ‘what they did well’ last February to try and complete the mammoth 12-page document filled with competencies and objectives that they haven’t looked at since the last appraisal. Sound familiar??!

Oh why, oh why do we get our knickers in such a twist over the end of year meeting to discuss our performance? For some, it’s the thought of asking other people to comment on their performance over the year that can lead to nervousness or in some cases, anxiety.

360 feedback is a method or tool that allows an opportunity to receive performance feedback from managers, direct reports and peers, based on skills and behaviours that employees can see. The feedback gives insight into the desired behaviours to achieve objectives, demonstrate the company values and competencies and to set new objectives for the coming year ahead.

For some people this is a welcome opportunity, for others it can fill them with dread.

So how can we get the most out of this opportunity so that we can view the process as a positive one?

The employee benefits of 360 feedback are well documented: increases self-awareness leading to personal development, uncovers blind spots that can support training needs, encourages accountability to give employees control over their own career development and also helps to unearth strengths that can support new career opportunities and growth.

For the business, having a robust appraisal and 360 feedback process can be integral to organisational development and business growth, its important for employee engagement and training and developing the workforce, it can lead to improved customer satisfaction and also a reduced discrimination risk due to the fair and balanced nature of the process.

However, there are some who can feel anxious at the thought of asking peers and other people around the business to comment on their working styles…. “How does Terry in accounts know what I do on a day to day basis?!”

If this is you, then here are some tips for getting the most out of your 360:

1) Choose Your Contributors Wisely:
There is little or no benefit of just asking your ‘mates’ for feedback. Yes, the report might be glowing but what have you really gained and understood about your management style or commutations style?! In most cases, the 360 in confidential; therefore, only you and your manager gets to see it. Therefore, lots of positive comments might feel nice to read on the day, bit won’t really help you grow and develop long term.

2) Asking For Observed and Reputational Feedback:
Observed feedback is from those who have seen you doing the job, typically your team mates, direct reports and line managers.

‘I’ve seen you do it / not do it’

This feedback is important as can highlight what you are doing well (and can do more of) as well as some blind spots in how you approach everyday tasks and communication.

Reputational or perceptual feedback is typically give from those who you might work with less frequently, possibly from another department, more senior managers or clients.

‘I think he does this well / not so well’

This is also important as perception and reputation can tell you a lot about areas you may need to improve, or possibly share your strengths and positive behaviours with a wider audience.
Having a blended approach and asking respondents from both of these categories will give you a more well-rounded 360 report.

3) Act On The Feedback:
This is possibly the most important one of all, for two reasons. Firstly, if people have taken the time to respond and give you feedback on where they think your strengths and development areas are, then respect their opinion and make some effort to act on the feedback.

I found that most people don’t use feedback to critique, but to give the other person an opportunity to do things differently in order to work better together / get the job done more efficiently.

Secondly, if you have asked people for feedback then you do nothing with it, then what was the point in asking in the first place??!! Colleagues will expect to see you do something differently as a result of the feedback… particularly when its commenting on your strengths and thigs they like you to do more of…

This (familiar?) story may illustrate the point…

Wife to Husband: I really love that shirt you’re wearing; it really suits you!
Husband: Thank you darling.
(Husband appreciates the feedback and makes the effort to wear the shirt on future dates with wife, wife gets a nice warm glow that he’s making the effort to wear the shirt she likes)

Wife to Husband: I really love that shirt you’re wearing; it really suits you!
Husband: Thank you darling.
(Husband doesn’t listen and never wears the shirt again on future nights out, wife notices, but doesn’t say anything, and quietly thinks to herself, that’s the last time I’ll tell him he looks good as he never listens)

If people tell you they like the way you do something (i.e. your strengths) – do it more and get REALLY good at it!! (and yes, wear the shirt!!)

4) Focus On The Future:
Too many end of year appraisal seem to focus on what has happened and not about setting new objectives for the coming year. As a general rule the conversations should be 20% this year and 80% setting goals and objectives for next year.

By using the feedback as a basis to set your future objectives, you can ensure that not only are you contributing towards the wider organisational objectives, but your own personal career path and development too.

For both manager and employees, ensure you leave enough time in the appraisal to focus on future goals, ways to improve and to set yourself up for the year ahead… no point in looking back when the future is sooooo much more exciting!!

And if you would like to find out about a more exciting way to deliver 360 feedback then why not book a 15-minute demo to see what the future holds via the online booking form here.

Wishing all our clients and friends a fantastic Christmas and a wonderful 2018.