Very few people have been taught how to deal with or manage staff so it is not only staff on the receiving end who are terrified of appraisals, they can also be an ordeal for the managers who have to conduct them.
But effective communication and staff management are skills that can make all the difference to the growth potential of a small business.
In our view a properly constructed staff appraisal system is an essential tool for both staff and for business growth.
So what are the key elements?
When setting up an appraisal system there are a number of things to consider.
Most importantly, what is the required outcome: staff motivation? Setting goals? Staff development? Identifying training needs and skills gaps? Planning the development of the business? An opportunity for staff to give feedback? An opportunity for management to give feedback?
Identifying the goals of an appraisal will help to set it up in the right way to meet them and may also identify who should carry them out and how frequently.
But the basics of any appraisal system are that the outcome for all involved should be a positive experience and not an intimidating one that causes fear for all concerned.
And finally, appraisal ought to be carried out by line managers as it is a matter of leadership. It is not an HR function although HR may be useful for advice on how to conduct the interview and support with technical matters.