We hear, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That is not true. Words can send your best employees out the door faster than you think. On the other hand, they can build people up beyond their wildest dream. Life and death lie in the power of your tongue.
So, how does a successful performance appraisal look like especially for low performers? Firstly, have a clear goal in mind. We’re not here to dump our frustration or complaints. But to effect a behavioural change. That can only happen with the three ingredients below.
Build Foundation of Trust
Trust makes the foundation of an effective performance appraisal. That means your employee feels safe to be open and vulnerable with you. Only then, he or she can positively take negative feedbacks and feel motivated to change.
Firstly, assure your employee. Highlight how you appreciate his or her strengths and give examples. Even the smallest thing makes a difference.
After this, tell your employee that a performance appraisal is only balanced with areas of improvements. Be careful to stay within the boundaries of work. And keep your discussion private. Also, allow your employees to give feedback even if you don’t agree. The key is to acknowledge, respect and accept their thoughts and feelings.
Finally, just like how you finish a meal with dessert, end the appraisal with a pleasant note. For example, appreciate how they demonstrated humility and openness during the appraisal. Be genuine with your compliments.
By doing so, you’re building blocks of trust little by little. And once you’ve earned their trust, they would not only do their job, but go the extra mile for you.
Give Constructive Feedback
Constructive feedback has a clear S. M. A. R. T. action plan, and must be feasible to the employee. Hence, get your employee to brainstorm for measurable and viable ways to improve. It could be taking a class, finding a mentor or installing a tech application.
This gives your employee a sense of ownership. And by coaching them to find solutions, you’re creating autonomous creative problem-solvers instead of order-takers.
Also, challenge and stretch your employees to go further than what they set. But don’t set an impossible goal, lest they misunderstand you wanting to sabotage their success. Find that sweet spot – enough to challenge them but not so high to demotivate them altogether.
Offer Reasonable Boundaries
What if an employee has shown little improvement even after multiple performance appraisals? These conversations are hard but unavoidable. Your company has work to do and responsibilities to fulfil.
Hence for low-performing employees (as long it’s not an attitude problem), offer them a reasonable timeframe to prepare for exit. For example, the first choice would be to seek transfer to another role within the same company. Are there any roles you see more fitting for them? The second choice would be to look for another job placement.
How you treat a low-performing employee inevitably shows your intrinsic values altogether. If we’re ruthless and disrespectful, this would only raise our employees’ defence, which breeds an unhealthy working environment. Vice versa, if you show respect, kindness and grace, your employees will come to respect you. You’ll gain their loyalty for the values you hold.
Lastly, whether your employees dread or look forward to their performance appraisals, it depends on you as a business owner. With these tips, we hope you can challenge your employees to a groundbreaking level.