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I have to write annual performance appraisal report for my subordinates. This appraisal report further goes to my senior for approval and then after a few months will reach to the reviewed person.

As a step toward transparency and honest feedback, I was thinking of calling my direct subordinates to me and writing their appraisal report in front of them discussing each and every point with them. This meeting will be 1 on 1, so the discussions will remain private between us.

Now my question is - Should I do it?

From where I see it, the following pros and cons come to my mind-

Pros-

  1. He will get a direct reason and explanation behind each feedback point.
  2. He will get an opportunity to explain his position.
  3. This will improve trust and transparency between us.
  4. I will get to know how much he values the appraisal report.

Cons-

  1. It will be a much more time taking and rigorous process. However, I am ready to take the pain if it improves the team morale.
  2. He will negotiate and try to coerce the appraisal report.
  3. What will happen if I have to give very poor rating to someone due to his very poor work?

PS: There are no strict guidelines regarding this in my organization. The appraisal method is not forced ranking method.

  • This goes here. youtu.be/ym_EHcf_HbU – Paul Aug 25 '17 at 5:41
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    You should ask your own HR. If he starts negotiating and putting pressure on you, you can always end the meeting early, and finish the report on your own. Also, you should probably prepare a draft ahead of time to avoid wasting time. – Stephan Branczyk Aug 25 '17 at 8:05
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    How often do these reports happen, per employee? Annually, monthly, etc? – bluescores Aug 25 '17 at 15:49
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    Are these performance reviews tied to annual raises? – Mister Positive Aug 25 '17 at 15:51
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    I had my manager reject and completely rewrite one for one of my reports that he disliked. I had given him a meets expectations review but the manager changed it to "Major Improvement Needed." How would I have explained that to my report without throwing my manager(who I had a great relationship with) under the bus? And more importantly how would i have convinced my report to improve when I had already told him he was fine? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 25 '17 at 16:08
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I was thinking of calling my direct subordinates to me and writing their appraisal report in front of them discussing each and every point with them.

My goodness - no! That's not at all how performance appraisals should be done.

You are basically proposing a method that would

  • Be conducted in a few minutes in an ad-hoc manner
  • Be conducted without much thought behind it
  • Become a negotiation, rather than a thoughtful appraisal

This meeting will be 1 on 1, so the discussions will remain private between us.

Performance appraisals should be a thoughtful, in-depth analysis of the performance of the employee for the entire year. Hopefully, you have kept notes about performance throughout the year. And hopefully, you have conducted regular 1-on-1 meetings throughout the year - in which case, the appraisal should have no surprises in it.

Writing such appraisals takes a lot of time and thought. I typically write an appraisal in draft form, let it sit a few days, then go back and revise it several times before I am satisfied. I use my year-long notes from all 1-on-1 meetings as input, along with any metrics and project notes, as wells as notes from the prior year's goal-setting sessions. It's a time-consuming process.

It makes complete sense to discuss the almost-completed appraisal in depth with the employee so that they understand your assessment, and understand what they have done well, what they haven't done as well, how they can strengthen their already strong points and work on the weak points. Their feedback can be included in the appraisal in many shops.

In some shops, it is required to discuss the appraisal with your manager, in order to include their feedback before completion and/or before discussing it with the employee. You may wish to ask your boss about that.

But it should never be a "let's craft an annual performance appraisal" meeting.

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    How often do you do your regular one on ones?Just out of curiosity – smith Aug 26 '17 at 13:50
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    I am impressed. And does anyone think that it is too much? I mean Talking around an hour this week what's to say in just after 7 days? – smith Aug 26 '17 at 14:49
  • Almost every place that I've worked professionally, performance appraisals have a self assessment component and a manager/supervisor assessment. These are both typically reviewed in the same 1 on 1 meeting. – DLS3141 Aug 28 '17 at 12:45
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You can actually create much more hate and discontent this way. In many companies, the initial input is not the final review. People often have their reviews downgraded because only so many people can get the highest level of review for budgetary reasons. How would you feel if your boss told you that you were getting an outstanding review and when the official word comes down it is not at that level? I've had it happen to me and it made me much angrier than I would have been at getting the exceeds expectations level of performance review without the expectation of something better.

What is a better choice is to often informally (outside the review process) discuss performance concerning specifics of what is happening at that time. So tell people when they did something good and, more importantly, discuss improving performance when people fail or do poorly at the time it happens.

Another thing you can do is learn to make sure your people are the ones who retain that outstanding if you rate them that way. Part of doing this is making sure senior managers hear about your employees' achievements. If you are a VP in a meeting to decide which of 12 people will get the three Outstanding ratings available, are you going to choose the ones you never heard of before that meeting? Being a boss who is politically connected and working to make sure his people's accomplishments are know is critical to getting them the rewards they deserve. This is far more critical than writing the review.

  • I guess this is true only for forced ranking method of appraisal. . There is no such case with me. I can grade all my subordinates as outstanding or anything that seems fit to me. – Sagar Upadhyay Aug 25 '17 at 15:02
  • You stated it goes to your senior for approval, this is when the performance appraisal might get changed. – HLGEM Aug 25 '17 at 15:36
  • Yes but changing of review at that level happens rarely. And that will also be visible to the employee. At least he will be aware that his immediate boss is discussing with him – Sagar Upadhyay Aug 25 '17 at 15:53
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    All it takes is once to destroy your credibility. In most organizations this is a seriously bad idea. – HLGEM Aug 25 '17 at 21:32
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This is normally how it happens when I have my appraisals with my team lead. He'll go through my comments during a one-to-one meeting and then write up his appraisal while I'm there with him.

This saves time as I have to read and sign off his side of the appraisal to show that I've read and understood it. This also gives us scope to talk about anything that could be improved upon and feed this into the process for next year.

The amount of effort you go through of course depends on the standards expected by your company. For me, it's just a 30 minute chat about things and some typing up. It's always a positive experience.

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If there is no specific company policy against it, go for it.

In my experience what could speed up the process is that you formulate the performance appraisals and then discuss the contents in private meetings. Of course in this case it is advisable to accept the suggestions from your people to change the content, and also is possible that during the discussion you realize that further adjustments are necessary. If you do these changes in front of them, then I believe it has the same effect (builds trust and enforces open communication) but with less time necessary.

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I would not write the performance review while the employee is in the room, much less in front of you. By allowing the employee to be present subjects the writer of the performance review to be swayed by explanations, apologies, and promises of curing past issues in the future.

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I like your approach and I think that it can help strengthen the trust with you team.
But there is one key point. This can only work well, only if you have regular one on ones with them so there are no surprises.
If you don't have regular one on ones and suddenly you call them and show them the review and are surprised and shocked, yes the process won't go well, they will be trying to change it and will be time consuming.
What is important is not so much if you end up writing something that appears negative and showing them but that they were already given a heads up about your perception and didn't do anything about it.
So if you are doing regular one on ones with the team then yes I think you could try it.

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