Performance appraisals represent a dialogue between a manager and a person under her direct supervision. In this dialogue, an employee's self-esteem and employment are at stake. A manager must use strong communication skills to preserve the relationship between the organization and the employee. Otherwise, a meeting that goes poorly can lead to an employee feeling less committed to the firm. A manager uses multiple steps to prepare for an evaluation meeting.
Different kinds of communication occur prior to a manager writing the employee's performance appraisal document. Over the year, a manager should meet with an employee at different times to discuss performance issues. If this kind of ongoing communication occurs, an employee should know what to expect during the performance appraisal meeting, having already been given a chance to improve on weaknesses observed by a manager in his performance.
Noting weaknesses in performance is a manager's job during the evaluation year. When an employee does not improve in these areas of weakness, a manager must plan and take corrective actions. If a manager does not use direct, assertive communication to give an employee clear consequences for not correcting performance problems, it will be hard to justify the negative ratings and comments in a performance appraisal. A manager who documents in writing everything communicated to an employee will be able to support a poor evaluation much more easily.
Conducting the Meeting
A manager also uses communication skills in setting an agenda and then meeting with an employee to discuss a performance appraisal. It will become part of an employee's permanent personnel file. It is the responsibility of the manager to ensure that each employee understands the reasons for the ratings and comments on the form, gets a chance to ask questions, responds in writing if applicable and signs without necessarily indicating agreement with the contents of the appraisal.
An employee performance appraisal also serves as a chance for a manager to communicate clear expectations and goals for the year. When an employee receives feedback in the meeting, she will be prepared to do better next year, with more understanding of how a manager evaluates performance. Some managers set a second meeting to discuss goals after an employee has had a chance to digest the performance ratings.