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How to be Objective When Appraising Performance

By: Lisa Koning - Updated: 7 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
How To Be Objective When Appraising Performance

In appraising employee performance, it is essential to be objective. This can sometimes not be as easy as it sounds: what if the person does the job but you just don’t like them? What if his or her personality is very different to your own and you find it hard to get along with them? How can you be sure that your personal opinions do not sway their performance review; and as a professional manager, it’s absolutely essential that it doesn’t.

Appraise Based on Performance Measures

All positions should have a job description and a number of Performance Measures or Indicators that the jobholder will be rated against. Typically these measures are decided in consultation with the person involved and hopefully they will have input into what these are. These need to be specific and not vague, so that the person knows what they are trying to achieve, and also so that you can determine if they have achieved the required outcome.

It’s About Performance Not Personality

Clearly some jobs require certain personality traits. A role that requires a lot of customer interaction may need someone that is good working with people. Therefore typical behaviour for this role might be: friendly and helpful to customers, good telephone manner etc. These are about how the person needs to behave but it is not about their personality. They may be bubbly on the telephone but very quiet when they are not. This may not be a problem if the role doesn’t require them to be outgoing one hundred percent of the time. Focus on behaviour and skills, not on personality! It’s very likely that you may inherit people on your team that you wouldn’t necessarily hire – as a professional manager you need to see beyond any personality dislikes and assess the person’s ability to do their job, as described in their performance measures. If there performance measures don't say they need to behave in a particular manner then it is difficult to give them a poor appraisal if they do.

Seek the Opinions of Others

Ask other managers and colleagues for feedback. This will help you determine whether it is only you that views an employee in a certain light. If everyone else is giving positive feedback on the employee, it is possible that the issue is your working relationship with the person.

Gather the Facts

Don’t just base your appraisal on what you’ve seen. Speak to others and gather your facts. Are they really bad at handling customer calls, or did you just happen to over hear them on a bad day? It is unfair to rate solely on one incident, so survey a range of incidents and consider typical behaviour as well as extremes.

Look at a variety of their work. If you are giving a high rating, is their work consistently of a high quality, or was it only one instance? Is there work for you of high quality but for everyone else very low?

Treating all Staff Fairly

Remember while it would be nice to give all of your staff a top performance rating, it is not fair on those that do work consistently at a high level, if you reward those that only perform mediocre for the majority of the time. In fairness to all of your employees, put the time in to gather the information to conduct a fair and realistic appraisals. Seek the opinions of others, and that will give you further evidence that your rating is correct, or it may give you cause to consider that you are not being as objective as you should be. Stick to the Performance Measures as they will help ensure you are focusing on the performance and not the personality.

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