Annual performance review

The annual performance review aims to review, summarize, and confirm the employee’s performance during the annual review period. It should cover the goals and objectives the employee achieved and the competencies they demonstrated.

Managers should review their supervisory notes and documentation generated from the ongoing review meetings and other interactions with the employee throughout the year to track the progress of the performance plan. Only issues that you already discussed with the employee should be part of the assessment documentation and meeting.

If performance problems have already been addressed with the employee, that information should be included in the annual review document. Unless an issue has recently come up, managers should not bring up new performance issues that were not addressed during the year.

In the performance assessment meeting, employees and managers will:

  • Summarize the work accomplished during the year for each of the goals agreed to at the beginning of the performance period. This can include key results, accomplishments, and what objectives were not met.
  • Discuss how competencies were evidenced and/or achieved.
  • Document challenges encountered during the year and identify areas for training or development.
  • Identify and discuss any unforeseen barriers to the achievement of the objectives.

The employee and the supervisor should sign off on the form, which shows the date the meeting took place. Most annual review documents will provide a space for the employee to add their final comments about the evaluation. If for some reason the employee disagrees with parts of the evaluation, they can include their comments in the document. The final document can be placed in the employee’s personnel file and a copy is given to the employee.

The appeal process

Even with a well-designed and implemented performance management process, there may be situations when an employee disagrees with the manager about their performance assessment. A procedure for employees to follow in this situation should be established in your organization.

Some options for dealing with disagreements about performance appraisals are:

Employee feedback
The employee can provide their own evidence and information to the manager that provides proof that the manager’s assessment is not completely accurate.
Step-review system
The disagreement is heard by higher levels of management, such as the supervisor’s manager, followed by the Executive Director, as necessary. Management levels will vary based on your organization’s structure.
Peer-review system
A small group made up of equal numbers of employees and management staff review disagreements. This system may not be sanctioned in a unionized workplace.
Ombudsperson
Employees can seek assistance from an individual within your organization who is designated as an impartial ombudsperson.

Avoiding rater bias or assessment errors

Our judgments about many things are affected by our perception. When a person evaluates someone else, their evaluation reflects both the person being assessed and the evaluator’s biases. Managers should be aware of their possible evaluation biases to try to eliminate them from the assessment process.

Some common biases include:

Halo
A tendency to form a generalized positive impression of an employee, meaning rating the employee highly on all rating criteria rather than independently for each item. Typically, evaluators are influenced by their previous judgments of performance or personality.
Horns
The opposite of the halo effect bias, with a generally negative impression of an employee resulting in artificially low ratings. This bias may come up if the manager generally dislikes or has little confidence in an employee.
Central tendency
A tendency to evaluate most employees as “average” when applying a rating scale. For example, given a scale that runs from one (poor) to seven (excellent), with four being the average, some managers refuse to use the points at either end. The tendency is for almost all ratings to fall within the 3–5 range. Shorter rating scales, such as those with only three points rather than seven, tend to cause less central tendency bias, but they also become less exact.
Leniency/Strictness
A tendency to be more lenient or strict than their peers when rating employees, or more lenient or strict with one employee than another.
Similarity
A tendency to rate employees who are perceived to be similar to the rater more favourably than dissimilar employees. If this tendency is based on discrimination under human rights legislation (for example, race, gender, nationality), it’s a violation of human rights and is illegal.

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