By Swapnil Kamat, CEO
It is natural to feel a little dizzy when you hear the words "performance appraisal." After all, your hard work will be reviewed in relation to how you performed or didn't the last couple of months. However, it's not just employees who fear review meetings. Managers can also feel a shiver of dread when this time of year comes around, especially if they are not well prepared for it.
Here are some things that can send a chill down a manager's spine before the feedback meet.
You did not invest time to set deliverables
This is problematic. When you do not lay down deliverables in detail, what are you going to appraise the employee on? One of the most important things to do is getting done with this right at the beginning of the review period. Sit down with your team members individually and assign them their key result areas (KRAs) in separate meetings. Pay attention to their strengths and weaknesses and push them to do their best. The next time you're going to review them, you will never be a bundle of nerves because you have in front of you a document that clearly tells you what is it that you're going to review them on.
You are unapproachable
For an employee, it is critical to get their manager's feedback. It helps keep employees on track or at least makes them aware of how they're doing. Your words of motivation go a long way in determining their performance. However, if you are unapproachable, either because you're always in and out of meetings or travelling a lot, they naturally fear performance appraisals because of the absolute lack of interaction. Since there's no professional rapport, it is but natural for them as well as you to be a little worked up.
You're afraid of giving negative feedback
Some managers don't know how to give negative feedback. If you are one of those then it is important for you to remember that if you don't tell your subordinates, they may never know how to get out of the loops of mistakes they make. For starters, focus on their achievements and then dish out negative feedback. Sandwiching criticism between positive feedback makes the process more constructive in nature and also leaves out any scope for bad blood. Let it never get personal. A week or two after the appraisal, sit them down and see if they've acted upon the feedback. Say a few words of appreciation if they're doing well. Validation is important. Most importantly, make yourself available because your input is all that matters to get them to outperform themselves.
Inadequate preparation to review
When you have a bigger team to handle as a manager, then the fear stems from not having "enough" time to review every member's performance. That, however, is quite an unacceptable excuse. As a matter of fact, any such excuse is rather improper because it is your responsibility to monitor everyone's performance graph. You should know why it's dipping and when it's soaring. If you're abreast with everything and everyone even remotely, it is enough to take pressure off you. The prospect of reviewing 20 people (more or less) will cease to daunt you.
You don't know how to set deliverables
It doesn't matter if you're a first-time manager or a seasoned one, the task of setting deliverables can be tricky. No wonder you feel terrified at the sheer thought of sitting across team members and setting their KRAs. To rid yourself of the anxiety, make sure you go through your own KRAs first. Being aware of what's on your plate will make you mindful of what needs core attention and what can be delegated. Also, understand their strengths and allot work accordingly.
Make sure you shoulder the responsibility of leading a team with all seriousness. Keep in mind that there are a couple of people whose career graph depends on how well you lead and manage them. Most importantly be there for them because that sets the tone to your relationship with them.