We have discussed the performance appraisal process in earlier articles. In this article, we discuss the performance appraisal interview and its importance in the performance appraisal cycle. The performance appraisal interview is the first round in the performance appraisal process and this is the round in which the manager communicates his evaluation of the employees performance during the appraisal period or the time that the employees performance is being evaluated.
What is a Performance Appraisal Interview ?
A performance appraisal interview is the first stage of the performance appraisal process and involves the employee and his or her manager sitting face to face to discuss threadbare all aspects of the employees performance and thrash out any differences in perception or evaluation. The performance appraisal interview provides the employee with a chance to defend himself or herself against poor evaluation by the manager and also gives the manager a chance to explain what he or she thinks about the employees performance.
In a nutshell, the performance appraisal interview precedes the normalization process and is subsequent to the employee filling up the evaluation form and the manager likewise doing so. The interview is the stage where both sides debate and argue the employees side of the story as well as the managers perception.
Though management theorists like to propound the benefits of objective evaluation, it is a fact in contemporary organizations that an element of personal bias enters the evaluation. This is evident from the studies and surveys done by HR consultants like Hewitt that point to the employees dissatisfaction with the performance appraisal process as one of the main reasons for leaving the company. To curb the incidence of biases and heuristics playing a role in the appraisal, HR managers typically conduct orientations and trainings to both the Managers and the Employees to sensitize them to these dangers that are sometimes inherent in the process.
On the other hand, the employees should approach the process without unrealistic expectations and expect the Manager to agree to whatever they write on the performance evaluation form. Hence, there is a need for both sides in the interview process to approach the same with an open mind and be as objective as possible. However, this is easier said than done and hence organizations expend resources on making the process as transparent and objective as possible.
The performance appraisal interview must be taken seriously and both the employee and the manager must set aside time to go through the process. The manager cannot arbitrarily change the time or the venue and must not approach the interview in a haphazard manner. Despite all these injunctions, it is often the case that the manager has to be reminded about the interview and then he or she hurriedly arranges the meeting. This is definitely the wrong way to approach the interview. Further, the manager must make the time to go through the employees self evaluation and rate the same objectively.
Though there is no right way to conduct the performance appraisal interview, it is incumbent upon the manager to avoid the pitfalls described above. A rule of thumb would be set aside a few days to conduct all the interviews with members of his or her team and ensure follow-ups to the process. The follow-up is needed when the employee is not satisfied with the interview discussion and hence requests for additional time to debate the rating. In some cases, the HR manager may need to step in to ensure that the process is concluded to the satisfaction of the employee and the manager.
Surveys have shown that nearly 70% of the employees who leave organizations cite the bad rating that they have got as the reason for quitting and often voice their disappointment at the process in the exit interview. Hence, there is a need for organizations to smoothen the performance appraisal process and since the performance appraisal interview is the first step; the beginning must be made well. Since the career progression of employees depends on the ratings that they get, the whole process must be taken seriously by all the stakeholders.