Performance appraisals are a useful means to identify training and development needs for staff at all levels. There is actually a dual purpose to appraisals. The customary purpose is to have an equitable basis for rewarding effective performance that has occurred during the past year. The second purpose, however, has been increasingly important in light of the rapidly changing work competitive demands of an evolving marketplace. That purpose focuses on the future by leveraging employees' strengths, addressing deficiencies in skills or knowledge, and most important, by guiding future individual and team development.
Most, if not all, performance appraisals have a section on individual development. However, experience suggests that these developmental actions are rarely tracked or followed up to ensure implementation.
Most appraisals will evaluate both what the employee contributed to the organization (e.g., accomplishment of work objectives) as well as how they accomplished that work. The "how" is often reflected in an organization's competency model, which defines the factors required for effective performance in specific jobs or job families. Increasingly, organizations are using the same competencies to select, appraise and train. Quarterly or even monthly performance reviews, commonly used in sales positions, are now being used for other functions. More frequent performance appraisal allows managers and subordinates to track learning, changed behavior and development. It also allows for small "wins" to be recognized, which is important to help sustain behavior change.
Also, when an appraisal targets competencies an employee needs to be effective in a specific organization, job or job family, it helps to structure how people in that organization see themselves and others. The competencies are clearly defined, and corresponding behavioral statements that exemplify the skill are individually rated as well. These provide a picture of the employees' strengths and learning needs on a scale of novice to expert. The more precisely defined these behaviors are, the more targeted the training that can be developed for addressing those needs.
Probably the best advantage of leveraging your appraisal process is that it already exists and is part of the regular management practice. It is also directly linked to job performance.
SOURCE: Jan Margolis, managing director, Applied Research Corp., Metuchen, New Jersey
LEARN MORE: Learning means little if it doesn't result in the desired behavioral changes, writes author Stanton Heister.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.