When looking at conducting performance appraisals, it never ceases to amaze me how many people focus on the forms and the computer systems that generate them. It is almost as if my depersonalising the process, ticking the boxes, and filing the paperwork, that they believe they can miss out on the sometimes messy conversations that occur when humans are involved.
Performance appraisal forms are and should only ever be, a way of documenting the discussion that has already been had. Yes, performance review documents have been used as blunt instruments to bludgeon the other party into submission before an Industrial Tribunal, or to prove a point at promotion time. But, these cases are in the minority.
If you focus all of your time trying to ensure all your paperwork is legally bullet-proof, you miss the whole point of the process, which is to ensure both parties have a shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished, and to what standard.
If you need to, put the forms into a drawer while you focus on the discussion and only bring them out at the end, to be jointly filled in and filed. Yes, be cautious about what you put into writing. Yes, consider carefully the words you use. Yes, review your rating to minimise bias. But don’t use these as an excuse to focus fixedly on the forms, to the detriment of the discussion.
Until next time
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