The 3 most important mistakes regarding appraisal interviews
13 januari 2020 

The 3 most important mistakes regarding appraisal interviews

Since the changes in dismissal law as of 1 July 2015, conducting proper appraisal interviews has become a must. The same applies to the use of a good appraisal form. In practice, however, I see that mistakes are still regularly made when conducting appraisal interviews. And the written record thereof.

Mistakes that, among other things, mean that the employee inadvertently does not get a fair chance to improve his or her performance. And can lead to you not being able to say goodbye to your employee despite the fact that you believe that your employee is not functioning well enough. It is therefore important to prevent these mistakes in the future.

1. Appraisal form ≠ school report

The first important mistake I regularly see is that the appraisal form is more like a school report than an appraisal form. There are so many grades (sometimes as many as six or more) that the appraisal form looks a lot like a school report. This may be suitable for school. Not for the assessment of the functioning of an employee.

The appraisal form should give a clear picture of the situation. This is not the case with six or more possible qualifications. An appraisal form should at least contain the possible qualifications insufficiently, sufficiently and good. Preferably, the appraisal form should also contain a fourth qualification, which shows that the employee’s performance far exceeds that of his or her colleagues, for example the qualification excellent.

All other qualifications make the appraisal form only diffuse. Sometimes, for example, in addition to the aforementioned qualifications, an appraisal form also has the qualification to be improved. As if improvement would not be necessary in case of insufficient performance. It also happens that between the good and excellent qualifications another qualification is possible, for example very good. How can you distinguish between functioning that qualifies as very good and functioning that qualifies as excellent?

If it is good, the grading qualifications have definitions that are mutually exclusive, so you should be able to distinguish between the different grading qualifications. However, practice shows that definitions are often missing or so little different from each other and do not exclude each other (therefore) that the choice for the qualification often depends more on the person assessing the employee and how that person feels that day than how the employee in question has functioned in the past year. Of course, this is not the intention. That is why it is important to only work with a maximum of four qualifications, where the qualifications are defined in such a way that they are mutually exclusive and you therefore know which qualification to choose.

Then it immediately becomes clear whether follow-up action is necessary or desirable. After all, if the employee functions insufficiently, improvement is necessary. If there is no improvement, maintaining the employee in his or her position is not an option. In case of sufficient functioning, improvement is desired, but not immediately necessary. Even without the employee improving his or her performance, it is possible to maintain the employee in his or her function. However, it is desirable that the employee improves his or her performance.

If the employee functions good, improvement is neither necessary nor desirable. However, it is possible that the employee wishes to develop himself or herself. In case of excellent functioning, this is often very pleasant in the short term, but generally does not work in the long term. After all, the employee is overqualified for the job and will quickly get bored. It is important to see to what extent it is possible to offer the employee more challenge if there is a desire to retain the employee.

2. Not making clear choices

The second mistake is closely related to the first. If a good appraisal form is not used, it is almost impossible to make a clear choice. The appraisal form does not force you to make a choice either. If you feel uncomfortable with the qualification insufficiently, for example, you can choose the qualification improvement necessary. This weakens the qualification somewhat. This can feel pleasant in the short term. In the longer term, however, you generally don’t benefit that much. After all, you want the functioning to improve and if that does not happen, you want to be able to say goodbye.

It is also possible that you find the qualification exaggerated. A qualification that does not fit with how you would qualify functioning. Very good is probably the highest you can achieve, so the excellent qualification will not be used by you. However, you may not realize enough that action needs to be taken to retain the employee. You run the risk of seeing an employee who is very valuable to your company leave for the competitor, who offers more challenges to employees who perform excellently.

That is why it is very important that the assessment form forces you to make choices. That is why the definitions of the assessment qualifications must be mutually exclusive. It is one or the other. For example, the employee functions insufficiently, as a result of which improvement is necessary, or sufficient, as a result of which improvement is desirable but not necessary. The employee does not function between insufficient and sufficient.

An appraisal interview generally relates to the employee’s performance over a period of one year. That period is long enough to be able to determine how the employee functions. Is improvement necessary? Or can the employee not be maintained in his or her function if the functioning remains as it is? Or can you live with it if the employee continues to function as he did last year? You will have to make a clear choice. A good appraisal form forces you to do so. A good appraisal form therefore does not allow you to encircle multiple possibilities or to put a cross in multiple boxes. You will have to make a clear choice for each competency and you will also have to make a clear choice regarding the overall assessment.

3. Not taking (correct) action

The last important mistake I regularly see is that no action is taken or not the right one. It strikes me that regularly it is sufficient to establish that an employee is not functioning sufficiently and to call the employee to account for this. Many conversations take place on a regular basis. Sometimes for a very long time as well. But that’s all.

Or action is taken, but not the right one. This seldom produces the desired result, i.e. that your employee will (again) function well. Furthermore, you run a considerable risk that you will be objected to in a dismissal procedure with the result that you cannot say goodbye to your employee despite the fact that you are of the opinion that your employee is not functioning well enough.

You must then still try to improve performance. Or hope that your employee is willing to settle for a substantial severance payment. In that case, however, you are dependent on your employee. Moreover, it often doesn’t feel right. After all, the severance pay you have to pay to the employee, of whom you are of the opinion that he or she does not perform well enough, will be significantly higher than the bonus you have paid to the employee who performs excellently. If you have already paid them a bonus.

In order to ensure that you take the right action, you will have to investigate what makes the employee perform inadequately. The solution can be found in the cause. If you know what causes the inadequate functioning, you can find out whether this can be remedied and if so, how. Then – if the insufficient functioning can be remedied – you can give your employee the opportunity to improve his or her functioning by means of a process of improvement.

Hopefully this will succeed and it will not be necessary to dismiss your employee. In the unlikely event that you do not succeed in improving performance, then you have met the requirements for a dismissal for non-performance, which will hopefully enable you to reach an agreement with your employee about this, but otherwise you will be able to effect a dismissal by dissolving the employment contract.

Help with effective appraisal?

Hopefully you have received help with the above, with which you can get started. Do you want help with effective appraisal and do you think I can help you with that? Please contact me for a free, no-obligation intake interview or let me contact you about this. Then you can decide whether it would be useful for you if I can assist you with an effective appraisal.

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