Setting The Expectation

Periodic performance appraisals are a beneficial tool to impact employee performance and an opportunity for an employee to know of management’s perception of his or her individual contribution. It’s important to make sure that a performance appraisal meeting is not the first time an employee is hearing the expectations of his or her manager or the requirements of the job. Being surprised by a manager’s expectations during this meeting can create an awkward, sometimes argumentative environment which can be easily avoided. Long before an employee receives a periodic performance appraisal, he or she should have adequate knowledge of their job function and responsibilities. This is typically made known via a job description

A job description should describe the essential functions of the job, as well as the most commonly performed tasks or responsibilities. Failure to provide a job description may cause issues later in employment when the employee is expected to perform a job function which may be below his or her competency level. Additionally, an employee may have certain physical limitations which require an initial discussion regarding the need for reasonable accommodation, which may be significantly delayed if the employee was not made aware of the required physical abilities for the job. Once a job description has been given upon hire, it is imperative that regular and frequent communication is had with the employee regarding day-to-day activities and assessment of work product.

There is significant value to having regular meetings with subordinate employees. This communication is best to have in-person, but can be equally beneficial to the manager and the employee by telephone or web-conference (via Skype or another service). If scheduled on a weekly basis, the meeting should last no more than 30 minutes to 1 hour. The key to a successful meeting it to have a brief agenda and to stay on task – this type of meeting is not intended to be for social purposes, but should have some aspect of “check-in” with the employee to inquire on his or her day or week. In addition to frequent meetings, a manager should provide constructive feedback when necessary.

Offering feedback to employees is not always easy. Often an employee can become defensive or unmotivated when presented with feedback that may highlight an error or deficiency with their work. However, if feedback is given in a professional manner with adequate explanation, instances of discord between manager and employee should be minimal. Allowing for an employee to make the same repeated mistake due to fear of having to address it, does not help the employee know or understand an expectation that may be in place. Instead, it may reinforce unsatisfactory work performance which may turn into a greater issue later in employment.

Incorporating the use of a job description, with regular meetings and instant constructive feedback should assist to limit any surprises an employee may feel regarding their performance appraisal if constructed in an unbiased and fair manner.