7 Tips On Appraisals When The Conversation Gets Tough

As a manager, appraisals of staff are processes that cannot be avoided as they are vital for managing the performance of your team, department or overall business operations.  It is never nice telling someone on your team that you think they are not performing well and in cases like this the conversation can begin to get tough.

However, with good planning and good communication between staff and managers what could cause the tough conversations should have been noticed long before the appraisal takes place. An appraisal is really part of ongoing communication and provided channels of communication are good most appraisals should be a breeze for both parties involved.

When the going gets tough

However, appraisals can become sticky, tricky and even heated and should this happen it may mean you need to take a closer look at your communication processes in general. Nevertheless, a tough appraisal can often be avoided but there is always a chance of a curve ball so you need to know how to handle this when it happens. There are some simple steps to managing appraisals when the conversation get tough and these 7 tips will help you

Open with the positives

It is important to start any appraisal off well and opening with the positives helps settle the nerves and set the tone. Feeling comfortable is an important part of an appraisal and beginning with the positives can reduce the risk of tough communication from arising.

Let the employee lead

When the tough parts of the appraisal come up and something more challenging needs to be addressed don’t charge right in. Allow the employee to tell their side of a story a first and open with a leading question. An appraisal is about helping an employee from and is not something used to bring them down.

Be aware of tone and body language

When challenging conversation comes up the tone of voice and body language can make matters worse. As a manager remaining calm yet confident is vital and being acutely aware of your behaviour, tone of voice, choice of words and demeaner all play a role in managing tough topics of conversation well.

Be prepared

When you know tough topics must be addressed you need to be prepared. Having documents or other evidence to hand is vital. It is easier to have an open and civilised conversation when the facts are presented and again allow the employee to lead if you can.

Empathy and an open mind

Showing empathy, making the employee feel that you are not necessarily judging them is vital. Listening to the employee is equally as important as laying out the facts. In many cases, a difference in understanding can be the cause of a problem and what seems obvious to you may not be to the employee.

Slow down and expand

The real secret to managing the tough conversations that can arise in an appraisal is not to rush. If something comes up don’t watch the clock but rather allow the matter to be discussed fully. Be willing to open up and expand the conversation to understand a matter as it may be that there is something much deeper that needs to be acknowledged.

An appraisal is a positive process and having an open mind and finding ways to improve things always yields results.