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50 Activities for Performance Appraisal Training

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Teaching employees how to deliver effective performance appraisals will pay big dividends in your organization. But, too often, employees perceive the training as uninteresting _ even boring. Here's a terrific resource full of hands-on exercises that will make training in this vital area enjoyable and extremely motivating. Every employee _ regardless of how experienced they are in appraisals _ will be stimulated by learning how to question, listen, be objective, give feedback, communicate and manage the process. Each activity is ready-to-use and includes a description, when to use it, objectives, materials and time required, and methods. Each activity takes under 60 minutes or so to complete. Need to find a specific activity quickly? No problem. The activities are categorized into two groups _ the skills and the process _ so they are easy to select. All handouts are numbered using the same number as the activity. And some you'll want to make into transparencies for use with an overhead projector. Whether you're a new or experienced trainer, you'll find all the support you need to lead the activities, adapt them to your own training style and give performance appraisal training the priority it deserves.

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1 Actions Speak Louder

PDF

1

Actions Speak Louder

DESCRIPTION

This activity is based on participants reading a series of statements and deciding which statements apply to whom. This leads to a discussion on how quickly people make judgments about one another, how accurate these judgments are, and the effect of these judgments during the appraisal process.

SITUATIONS

This group activity can be used when covering the topic of stereotyping and objectivity. It is most effective with individuals who have not met before or who know only a little about one another. It can be used as an icebreaker. It is an exercise that can stimulate a great deal of discussion.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To highlight how participants stereotype and make judgments

To examine the accuracy of these judgments

To examine the effect of stereotyping on the appraisal process

40 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handout 1.1

Name badges

1. Before the start of the activity, write each of the suggested statements from Handout 1.1 on separate pieces of flipchart paper. Hang each piece of paper on the wall around the room.

 

2 An Appraisal Interview

PDF

2

An Appraisal Interview

DESCRIPTION

This activity centers on a role play and participant feedback to give participants practice providing critical feedback. In groups of three, participants have the opportunity to practice conducting an appraisal interview using a prepared scenario. The interview focuses on dealing with an employee who is performing just below the company requirements.

Within every group, there is an opportunity for each participant to be the interviewer, interviewee, and the observer. The observer leads the discussion after the interview and gives feedback to the interviewer.

SITUATIONS

This is an ideal exercise to follow Activity 5: The BOFF Principle.

Alternatively, it can be used as an activity to provide more practical experience to those who have difficulty dealing with poorly performing employees. The skills needed to give critical feedback are not just confined to appraisal interviews, and therefore the activity could be used for all line managers who need to use the skills in everyday work situations.

 

3 Ask, and You Shall Receive

PDF

3

DESCRIPTION

Ask, and You Shall Receive

This activity uses questioning skills to gather evidence of an appraisee’s past performance. It starts with a discussion on the most appropriate types of questions to use when gathering information. Working in groups of three, participants receive copies of a performance assessment, each containing slightly different information. Participants use the appropriate types of questions to uncover information from the assessments that the other group members are holding. A discussion follows on the effects of certain types of questions and the importance of consultation when gathering evidence for an appraisal.

SITUATIONS

This group activity can be used to highlight two key points: first, the importance of using appropriate questions to uncover information, and second, the need to consult others when gathering evidence for an appraisal.

OBJECTIVES

To highlight the most appropriate questions to use to uncover information

To practice questioning skills

To highlight the importance of consultation when gathering evidence for an appraisal

 

4 The Beginning and the End

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4

DESCRIPTION

The Beginning and the End

This activity demonstrates the need to start and finish the appraisal interview professionally. The group members individually critique examples of opening and closing statements. Their findings are then discussed with the whole group and alternative statements are produced for the ones they considered to be poor.

SITUATIONS

This group training activity is aimed at the inexperienced interviewer. It can be used to discuss how to open and close an appraisal interview.

OBJECTIVE

To explain how to start and finish an appraisal interview professionally

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

30 minutes

Handouts 4.1 and 4.2

Overhead projector and Handout 4.2 as a transparency

1. Introduce the activity by explaining that many appraisers can find it difficult to open and close an appraisal interview in a suitable way.

At the start of the interview, the appraiser may be feeling nervous and therefore appropriate words will not flow spontaneously. Alternatively, the appraiser who is over-confident may interrupt with an unsuitable comment. At the end of the interview, it is necessary to find a closing statement befitting the discussions that have taken place.

 

5 The BOFF Principle

PDF

5

DESCRIPTION

The BOFF Principle

This participative exercise centers on the important area of giving feedback within the appraisal process. The activity starts with an explanation of the

BOFF (behavior, outcome, feelings, and future) principle. Then the trainer gives a short presentation after which the group members give him or her feedback on his or her performance, using the BOFF principle.

SITUATIONS

This activity can be used when covering a number of different aspects of appraisals: interviewing, writing, preparation, and post-interview review. It also has applications in general management and working alongside others.

OBJECTIVES

To provide a formula to use when giving praise and criticism throughout the appraisal process

To test the participants’ understanding of the principle

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

60 to 90 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handouts 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, and 5.4

Materials for the trainer’s presentation

Overhead projector and transparencies of Handouts 5.1 and 5.2

1. Prepare in advance a short presentation on any subject.

 

6 Both Sides of the Coin

PDF

6

DESCRIPTION

Both Sides of the Coin

This is an activity designed to examine the rights of the appraiser and appraisee. The trainer explains the human charter, which lists a person’s rights, and then asks the group members to compile an appraiser’s charter and an appraisee’s charter.

SITUATIONS

This is an activity useful for both appraisers and appraisee. It can provoke much discussion and be used to highlight the need to acknowledge and respect the other party’s view during everyday life and in particular during the appraisal process.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To establish the rights of the appraisee and appraiser

To examine the importance of respecting the rights of others

45 to 60 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handout 6.1

Overhead projector and transparency of Handout 6.1

1. Explain that this activity starts by examining some basic human rights that apply to everybody. Show the transparency of Handout 6.1 and explain.

2. Stress that the human charter is not a new concept, but one that is easily forgotten. First, people can forget that they have these rights. This can create many problems including emotional turmoil, excessive apologies, and additional work. Ask the group how often they have said to themselves: “If only I had said ‘no’ when I was first asked.” Second, we sometimes forget that other people have an equal set of rights. This can cause difficulties in relationships (for example, failing to treat others with respect). Distribute copies of Handout 6.1.

 

7 Bull’s-eye!

PDF

7

DESCRIPTION

Bull’s-eye!

This activity centers on setting objectives and developing action plans. First, participants look at some recommended guidelines. They then test their understanding through a practical exercise that is reviewed by linking objective setting and action plans to the appraisal process.

SITUATIONS

This activity has many uses since the guidelines for objectives and action plans apply to anyone involved in setting targets or goals within the workplace.

OBJECTIVES

To explain the theory of setting objectives and developing action plans using the mnemonic TARGET

To demonstrate that the action plan is an integral part of objective setting

To test participants’ understanding of the theory through practice and discussion

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

70 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handouts 7.1 and 7.2

Overhead projector and Transparency 7.1

Hit-and-miss cards (use index cards and write the words Hit on one side and Miss on the other)

1. Before the start of the activity, prepare the hit-and-miss cards.

 

8 But That’s Not What I Meant

PDF

8

DESCRIPTION

But That’s Not What I Meant

This activity involves participants ranking a list of words that could be used to describe a person’s work performance. Participants discuss how the same word may be interpreted differently and then examine the need to define performance standards.

SITUATIONS

This exercise is suitable for all levels. It can be used as a training session on written or oral communication skills. It is particularly relevant to the writing of appraisals and can form an introduction to the need for well-defined performance standards.

OBJECTIVES

To demonstrate how the same word can be interpreted in various ways by different people

To establish the need to define performance standards and to practice writing these standards

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

50 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handout 8.1

Overhead projector and Transparency 8.1

1. Explain the purpose of the activity.

2. Distribute Handout 8.1 and ask participants individually to rank the words in order of their meaning. Number 1 should be the word that describes the best standard of work and number 15 the worst.

 

9 But when have I got the time?

PDF

9

DESCRIPTION

But when have I got the time?

This is an activity designed to give appraisers an opportunity to review their time management, with the goal of allocating more time to appraisals.

Participants complete a visual chart detailing their current workload and a questionnaire examining how they presently use their time. The chart and questionnaire are reviewed in pairs, and people decide how they will allocate more time to appraisals.

SITUATIONS

This exercise can be used to help appraisers who have difficulty in finding sufficient time for appraisals. It is ideal for those who have a basic understanding of time management and need an opportunity to review its implementation.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To review people’s current workload and their time management

To identify how more time can be allocated to appraisals

90 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handouts 9.1 and 9.2

1. Before the session begins, list the following five headings on the flipchart:

Review the necessity of each task

 

10 Choosing the Right Route

PDF

10 Choosing the Right Route

DESCRIPTION

This activity provides individuals with a systematic way of analyzing available options to meet set targets. The trainer explains Pivot Analysis to the group and then gives them an opportunity to practice it using a case study. A group discussion takes place relating this to objective setting and problem solving during an appraisal interview.

SITUATIONS

Pivot Analysis is a tool that is useful for people who manage and appraise others. It is equally useful as an instrument for personal use. The case study is a group activity, although the actual method could be explained on a oneto-one basis.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To explain a systematic method of assessing possible courses of action

To practice using Pivot Analysis

60 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handouts 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3

1. Explain the objectives of the activity.

2. Distribute Handouts 10.1 and 10.2 and explain the step-by-step instructions for using Pivot Analysis. Stress that the number of “+” symbols or “–” symbols allocated should indicate the strength of the factor (for example, “++++” equals extremely strong for and “–” equals mildly against). These symbols will be used to tip the balance in favor of a particular option.

 

11 Competition Time

PDF

11 Competition Time

DESCRIPTION

This activity checks participants’ understanding of the appraisal system and gives them the opportunity to practice their questioning skills. Working in two teams, group members have to think up 10 questions to ask the other team regarding their company appraisal system. The trainer acts as the judge, awarding points at the end for accuracy of knowledge.

SITUATIONS

This is a group training activity, ideally suited at the start of an appraisal workshop to help the group leader understand the participants’ level of knowledge of the appraisal system. The activity can also be used to focus on questioning skills.

OBJECTIVES

To reveal the participants’ current level of knowledge of their appraisal system

To remind the group of the different types of questions and their uses

To practice using different types of questions

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

The timing of this activity will vary depending on how it is used. If it is run only as a competition to reveal the participants’ level of understanding of the appraisal system, then it will last 30 minutes. If it is also being used to explain the different types of questions and their uses, then it will last 50 minutes.

 

12 Confirm It in Writing

PDF

12 Confirm It in Writing

DESCRIPTION

This is an activity that explains how to write effective feedback. The trainer gives a brief outline of how to use the BOFF principle in a written format.

Using a case study, participants work in groups to produce two examples of feedback. These examples are reviewed with the whole group, and the trainer distributes suggested answers. The principles of written feedback are applied to reviewing an individual’s past performance on an appraisal form.

Alternatively, individuals can use the case studies as examples and practice by writing two pieces of feedback for the person sitting on their immediate left. This feedback is on this person’s performance in a previous exercise.

SITUATIONS

This activity can follow Activity 5: The BOFF Principle, which establishes how the principle can be used in an oral format. The alternative exercise of group members giving each other feedback is ideally suited to a two-day appraisal workshop when group members have the opportunity to get to know one another.

 

13 Discovering the Carrot

PDF

13 Discovering the Carrot

DESCRIPTION

This activity begins with the group individually completing a questionnaire to analyze what factors motivate them within the workplace. An explanation of

Maslow’s motivational theory follows, with individuals then reviewing their questionnaire results against this theory. This theory is then linked to the appraisal process and how the understanding of a motivational concept can help improve work performance and aid in setting objectives and conducting career planning.

SITUATIONS

This activity is suitable for appraisers with all levels of experience.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To understand the motivational theory of Maslow

To emphasize the importance of motivating staff effectively

To demonstrate how this understanding of motivation can lead to improved work performance within the appraisal process

50 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handout 13.1

Overhead projector and Transparency 13.1

Paper and pens

1. Distribute Handout 13.1 and ask individuals to complete it. Emphasize the following:

 

14 Do I appear neutral?

PDF

14 Do I appear neutral?

DESCRIPTION

This activity involves participants practicing the ability to disguise their own feelings. Participants split up into groups of three: the interviewer, the interviewee, and the observer. The interviewer and interviewee discuss a controversial subject selected by the interviewer, and the observer notes how successfully the interviewer conceals his or her feelings on the subject.

The exercise is reviewed by the whole group, and a checklist on how to appear neutral in an appraisal interview is presented.

SITUATIONS

This is a group activity, suitable for appraisers who already have an understanding of the basic skills of appraisal interviewing.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To practice disguising personal feelings

To identify the techniques that can help an appraiser appear neutral

Will vary depending on the number of times the interview is conducted. One interview will take 40 minutes.

Flipchart and markers

Handout 14.1

1. Introduce the session by explaining that an important skill for any interviewer is the ability to conceal personal feelings. If an interviewer reveals his or her own feelings about a particular subject, even subconsciously, then it is likely that the interviewee will express agreement. Only a strong-minded and assertive interviewee will be able to dispute the interviewer’s opinion and express an opposing view.

 

15 Do you really mean that?

PDF

15 Do you really mean that?

DESCRIPTION

This activity concentrates on writing clear performance reviews on appraisals and improving feedback writing skills. Participants rewrite a series of statements, making them more clear, specific, and appropriate, and add two broad statements they might have written in the past and appropriate alternatives. A review follows, highlighting the need for factual evidence when giving feedback in a written form on the appraisal.

SITUATIONS

This activity is suitable for all those who have recently taken on the responsibility of appraisals and wish to improve their writing skills when giving appraisees feedback on past performance. It would also be an ideal activity to follow Activity 5: The BOFF Principle, because it would enable individuals to continue putting the theory into practice.

OBJECTIVES

To improve a person’s ability to write in a clear and concise manner

To confirm the need for factual evidence to back up comments on an appraisee’s past performance

 

16 Easy Listening

PDF

16 Easy Listening

DESCRIPTION

Participants complete a self-assessment form, responding to statements concerning their listening skills. Using this information, the group brainstorms the skills of attentive listening and then practices these skills in groups of three.

SITUATIONS

This activity is most suitable for those appraisers who would welcome further self-analysis and practice on this important aspect of communication within the appraisal interview. It would also benefit any manager who needs skills in this area since it is vital to listen well at all stages of the management process. This activity would link with Activity 45: We Always Listen, to provide an alternative exercise.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To assess participants’ listening skills

To practice attentive listening

60 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handout 16.1

Paper and pens

1. Begin by distributing Handout 16.1 and explaining that the group will now complete a self-assessment questionnaire to establish their skills of listening within the appraisal interview. Tell the participants to imagine they are in an appraisal interview when completing the form and encourage honesty. Mention that a group discussion will follow, ending with an opportunity to practice listening skills.

 

17 The evidence I shall give…

PDF

17 The evidence I shall give…

DESCRIPTION

This activity demonstrates the importance of factual evidence. The group is split in half. Group 1 compiles a set of guidelines on how to gather evidence.

Group 2 is given information outlining a bank robbery, and they extract evidence from it in readiness to present their case for their client to secure a lenient sentence. Group 1 listens to the evidence presented and checks to see if their guidelines have been followed. A group discussion follows examining the need for accurate, specific, and factual evidence in appraisals.

SITUATIONS

This is a practical group activity that can be used to show the importance of basing performance assessments on facts.

OBJECTIVES

TIME

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

METHOD

To highlight how to gather evidence

To demonstrate the importance of using factual evidence during the appraisal process

50 minutes

Flipchart and markers

Handout 17.1

Paper and pens

1. Before the start of this activity, arrange for the use of an additional room for break-out group work.

 

18 For Better or Verse

PDF

18 For Better or Verse

DESCRIPTION

At the start of this activity, the whole group is asked to imagine they are a team of publishers who will be publishing a poetry book within six months.

As a group, they have to set standards for one type of poem they want included in the book. Once these standards are set, the group is then divided into two teams, their task being to write a poem that will then be measured against their set standards. The discussion that follows looks at the importance of setting and assessing standards of performance within the appraisal process.

SITUATIONS

This is a group exercise that is appropriate either to people who have recently taken on the responsibility for appraisals or those who need to refresh their skills. It also links with Activity 8: But That’s Not What I Meant.

OBJECTIVES

To show the importance of setting standards

To discuss the ways in which an employee’s performance can be measured against set standards

To evaluate the benefits of setting standards of performance

 

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