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Performance Appraisal Interviews

29 October, 2015 - 09:42

Once a good understanding of the process is developed, it is time to think about the actual meeting with the employee. A performance review process could be intricately detailed and organized, but if the meeting with the employee doesn’t go well, the overall strategic objective of performance reviews may not be met. In Norman R. F. Maier’s famous book The Appraisal Interview, he addressed three types of appraisal interview styles. The first is the tell and sell interview. In this type of interview, the manager does most of the talking and passes his or her view to the employee. In the tell and listen type of interview, the manager communicates feedback and then addresses the employee’s thoughts about the interview. In the problem-solving interview, the employee and the manager discuss the things that are going well and those that are not going well, which can make for a more productive discussion. To provide the best feedback to the employee, consider the following:

  1. Be direct and specific. Use examples to show where the employee has room for improvement and where the employee exceeds expectations, such as, “The expectation is zero accidents, and you have not had any accidents this year.”
  2. Do not be personal; always compare the performance to the standard.For example, instead of saying, “You are too slow on the production line,” say, the “expectations are ten units per hour, and currently you are at eight units.”
  3. Remember, it is a development opportunity. As a result, encourage the employee to talk. Understand what the employee feels he does well and what he thinks he needs to improve.
  4. Thank the employee and avoid criticism. Instead of the interview being a list of things the employee doesn’t do well (which may give the feeling of criticizing), thank the employee for what the employee does well, and work on action plans together to fix anything the employee isn’t doing well. Think of it as a team effort to get the performance to the standard it needs to be.
    The result of a completed performance evaluation usually means there are a variety of ramifications that can occur after evaluating employee performance:
  1. The employee now has written, documented feedback on his or her performance.
  2. The organization has documented information on low performance, in case the employee needs to be dismissed.
  3. The employee has performed well and is eligible for a raise.
  4. The employee has performed well and could be promoted.
  5. Performance is not up to expectations, so an improvement plan should be put into place.
  6. The employee hasn’t done well, improvement plans have not worked (the employee has been warned before), and the employee should be dismissed.
    In each of these cases, planning in advance of the performance appraisal interview is important, so all information is available to communicate to the employee. Consider Robin, an employee at Blewett Gravel who was told she was doing an excellent job. Robin was happy with the performance appraisal and when asked about promotion opportunities, the manager said none was available. This can devalue a positive review and impact employee motivation. The point, of course, is to use performance evaluations as a development tool, which will positively impact employee motivation.

Key Takeaways

  • There are many best practices to consider when developing, implementing, and managing a performance appraisal system. First, the appraisal system must always tie into organization goals and the individual employee’s job description.
  • Involvement of managers in the process can initiate buy-in.
  • Consider using self-evaluation tools as a method to create a two-way conversation between the manager and the employee.
  • Use a variety of rating methods to ensure a more unbiased result. For example, using peer evaluations in conjunction with self- and manager evaluations can create a clearer picture of employee performance.
  • Be aware of bias that can occur with performance appraisal systems.
  • Feedback should be given throughout the year, not just at performance appraisal time.
  • The goals of a performance evaluation system should tie into the organization’s strategic plan, and the goals for employees should tie into the organization’s strategic plan as well.
  • The process for managing performance evaluations should include goal setting, monitoring and coaching, and doing the formal evaluation process. The evaluation process should involve rewards or improvement plans where necessary. At the end of the evaluation period, new goals should be developed and the process started over again.
  • It is the HR professional’s job to make sure managers and employees are trained on the performance evaluation process.
  • Standards should be developed for filling out employee evaluations, to ensure consistency and avoid bias.
  • The HR professional can assist managers by providing best practices information on how to discuss the evaluation with the employee.
  • Sometimes when performance is not up to standard, an improvement plan may be necessary. The improvement plan identifies the problem, the expected behavior, and the strategies needed to meet the expected behavior. The improvement plan should also address goals, time lines to meet the goals, and check-in dates for status on the goals.
  • It is the job of the HR professional to organize the process for the organization. HR should provide the manager with training, necessary documents (such as criteria and job descriptions), instructions, pay increase information, and coaching, should the manager have to develop improvement plans.
  • Some HR professionals organize the performance evaluation information in an Excel spreadsheet that lists all employees, job descriptions, and due dates for performance evaluations.
  • There are many types of software programs available to manage the process. This software can manage complicated 360 review processes, self-evaluations, and manager’s evaluations. Some software can also provide time line information and even send out e-mail reminders.
  • The performance evaluation process should be constantly updated and managed to ensure the results contribute to the success of the organization.
  • A variety of ramifications can occur, from the employee’s earning a raise to possible dismissal, all of which should be determined ahead of the performance appraisal interview.


  1. What are the important aspects of an improvement plan? Why are these so important?
  2. Name and describe three best practices for a performance evaluation system.