How to Overcome Fear while Conducting Employee Appraisals

When you’re confronted with the prospect of several performance appraisals looming on the horizon, you may feel queasy. Fear is an emotion that is aroused by imminent danger — whether real or imagined. Instead of sensing that there may be significant danger in the various stages of the appraisal process, managers have more mundane fears that can hold them back, such as:

  • A fear of looking foolish: Managers who have this fear are primarily concerned that their ratings, comments, and face-to-face appraisal sessions will put them in situations that highlight their lack of knowledge, lack of accurate information, and even lack of managerial skills.

  • A fear of confrontation: Some managers are also afraid that their one-on-one sessions with their employees will turn into arguments and disagreements. Instead of opening the door to these encounters, some managers simply opt to provide unwarranted positive reviews to avoid confrontation. Unfortunately, these reviews don’t do anyone any good.

Providing undeserved positive reviews in order to avoid a confrontation doesn’t qualify as a method of overcoming fear. Actually, it’s a method of surrendering to fear.

Fortunately, there are two major steps that you can take to help yourself overcome your fears about conducting performance appraisals:

  • Spend more face time with your team. It will demonstrate to your employees that you aren’t pulling data out of thin air.

  • Become an expert in your company’s performance appraisal system. If you’re thumbing through the documents and rating forms the night before an evaluation, you’re likely to miss things and look incompetent.

A key source of fear is a perceived lack of power. When you have in-depth knowledge of your employees’ performance and the appraisal system, your fears will be alleviated — because knowledge is power.

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