How to Conduct the Appraisal Interview

First, the boss or superior or manager must prepare for the interview and assemble the data. Hr should also study the person’s job description, compare performance to the standards, and review the employee’s previous appraisals. Next prepare the employee by informing him in advance about the date and time and may be with a copy of the set goals of the period. Give the employee at least a week’s notice to review his or her work, read over the job description, analyze problems, and gather questions and comments. Finally, choose the time and place. Find a mutually agreeable time for the interview and allow enough time for the entire interview. Interviews with lower-level personnel like clerical workers and maintenance staff should take no more than an hour. Interviews with management employees may take two or three hours. Be sure the interview is done in a private place where there won’t be interruption by phone calls or visitors. There are four things to keep in mind in actually conducting the interview:

1. Talk in terms of objective work data: Use examples such as absences, tardiness, quality records, inspection reports, scrap or waste, orders processed, productivity records, material used or consumed, timeliness of tasks or projects, control or reduction of costs, numbers of errors, costs compared to budgets, customers’ comments, product returns, order processing time, inventory level and accuracy, accident reports, and so on.
2. Don’t get personnel: Don’t say, “You are too slow in producing those reports”. “Instead, try to compare the person’s performance to a standard. For example, “These reports should normally be done within 10 days.” Similarly, don’t compare the person’s performance to that of other people. (“He’s quicker than you are.”).
3. Encourage the person to talk: Stop and listen to what the person is saying; ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you think we can do to improve the situation? Use a command such as “Go on,” or “Tell me more.” Restate the person’s last point as a questions, such as, “You don’t think you can get the job done?”
4. Don’t tiptoe around: Don’t get personnel, but do make sure the person leaves knowing specifically what he or she is doing right and doing wrong. Give specific examples; make sure the person understands; and get agreement before he or she leaves on how things be improved, and by when. Develop an action plan showing steps and expected results.

How to handle a Defensive Subordinate:

Defenses are an important and familiar aspect of our lives. When a supervisor tells someone his or her performance is poor, the first reaction is often denial. By denying the fault, the person avoids having to questions his or her own competence. Others react to criticism with anger and aggression. This helps them let off steam and postpones confronting the immediate problem until they are able to cope with it. Still others react to criticism by retreating into a shell.

In any event, understanding and dealing with defensiveness is an important appraisal skill. Given below are some tips:
1. Recognize that defensive behavior is normal.
2. Never attack a person’s defenses. Don’t try to “explain someone to the person” by saying things like, “You know the real reason you’re using that excuse is that you can’t bear to be blamed for anything”. Instead, try to concentrate on the act itself (“sales are down”) rather than on the person (“you’re not selling enough”)
3. Postpone action: Sometimes it is best to do nothing at all. People frequently react to sudden threats by instinctively hiding behind their “masks”. But given sufficient time, a more rational reaction takes over.
4. Recognize own limitations. Don’t expect to be able to solve every problem that comes up, especially the human ones. More important, remember that a supervisor should not try to be a psychologist. Offering people understanding is one thing; trying to deal with psychological problems is another matter entirely.

How to criticize a subordinate:

When criticism is required, do it in a manner that lets the person maintain his or her dignity and sense of worth. Criticize in private, and do it constructively. Provide examples of critical incidents and specific suggestions of what could be done and why. Avoid once-a-year “critical broadsides” by giving feedback on a daily basis, so that the formal review contains no surprise. Never say the person is “always” wrong (since no one is ever “always” wrong or right). Finally, criticism should be objective and free of any personal biases on Appraiser’s part.