Annual performance appraisals are often dreaded by both supervisors and staff. While some anxiety is normal, when regular weekly or bi-weekly supervision meetings have been lacking, both parties can become highly anxious over the “unknown.”

When I train on Supervision & Performance Appraisal, my first rule about annual evaluations is that they are not the time for supervisors to realize it may be prudent to terminate. The one exception is extreme situations in which you recently became aware of a gross violation of agency policies, procedures, or unacceptable or dangerous behavior.

Annual evaluations are also not the time:

*For a supervisor to have a bad day…especially if it’s because you haven’t adequately prepared for the evaluation and are feeling understandably nervous.

*To deliver performance improvement feedback you haven’t previously given. If you find yourself in a position in which you need to do this, acknowledge that it should have been provided more promptly, apologize, and commit to the employee that you will be more timely about this in the future.

*To discuss an incident you haven’t previously talked about with the employee. Again, if you believe you need to do this, acknowledge that the feedback is not timely, apologize, and commit to being more timely in the future.

The focus of the annual performance evaluation should be to:

*Review and update the employee’s job description so that you are clear on how your employee is spending his/her time and any new areas of responsibility s/he routinely handles (sometimes when life gets busy, it’s easy to lose sight of these tasks)

*Determine if your employee has the supplies, tools, equipment, other resources, and training needed to perform optimally

*Assess patterns in your employee’s performance over the course of the year

*Point out strengths and tasks/duties/responsibilities the employee routinely does well

*Note areas in which the employee has made significant improvements

*Share concerns if there are areas of performance where the employee does not meet expectations or needs to improve

*Discuss new responsibilities or areas of growth in performance you’d like to see in the coming year

*Ask about professional development goals for the coming year and training the employee may want to pursue…and yes, share your goals and training ideas for your employee as well

The goal of regular supervision meetings, whether weekly or bi-weekly, is to give timely performance feedback, support, and assistance when an employee needs tools/resources/supplies/equipment or training to do their job well. It ensures that supervisors and employees are both on the same page, which should lessen anxiety over the annual performance appraisal.

Unfortunately, many supervisors have never received quality training regarding how to structure effective supervision meetings with employees. As a result, when life gets busy (and it’s always busy), supervisors avoid these meetings. Yet one of an employee’s highest priorities is usually quality time with his/her supervisor to ask questions, discuss ideas, make suggestions for how the job is performed or on other organizational/company practices, and to receive performance feedback.

And, ideally, these weekly or bi-weekly meetings generate a folder with notes about your discussions to review prior to the employee’s annual performance evaluation.  It gives you high quality information to use to assess patterns in performance, while also providing specifics issues, tasks, and accomplishments to refer to in the evaluation.  To make your weekly supervision meetings helpful to you during annual evaluations, send yourself an email following these meetings with highlights:  issues discussed, what’s going well, what needs to improve, goals for the coming week, things your employee needs to do his/her job.

One of the easiest ways to make these regular supervision meetings happen regularly is to schedule them when a new employee is first hired. For the first 6 weeks, it is advisable to hold these meetings weekly to start the employee off with maximum support to succeed in the position. If things are going well and the employee is responsive to feedback, for the next 6 weeks you may wish to cut back to bi-weekly meetings.

It’s not too late to start this practice with your existing employees. If you face resistance, instruct your staff to bring their questions, ideas, and issues for discussion. Listening first and then sharing your agenda items helps generate employee buy-in.

Becky Schueller consults, coaches, and trains managers and staff in nonprofits, counties and cities, tribes, schools, and businesses.  Do your supervisors need training to supervise effectively and conduct annual performance appraisals?  Contact Becky to schedule training on Supervision & Performance Appraisal for your managers, supervisors, and HR team.  Follow Becky’s business Facebook page, visit her webpage at www.bemidjiconsulting.com, or contact her at Becky@bemidjiconsulting.com to discuss your needs. Initial consultations are always free.