Communication skills are very critical for a successful performance appraisal because the appraisal process is primarily concerned with communication and needs to be two-way if it is to achieve any results. The use of questioning and listening skills is central to the process.
The ability to use questions to direct and control the appraisal process is critical to the success of the appraisal interview. In most cases, the areas and types of question to be used should be scripted beforehand to ensure that question time is used to maximum effect. There are various types of questions that should be used within a performance appraisal process. For each of these questions, the purpose of the questions should be to close the information gap. To illustrate, a probing question like ‘what metrics would you use to measure your performance?’ can be used.
However, it is of little or no use to ask great questions unless you can listen to and hear the answers. The appraisal process is dependent upon the communication process functioning, and this is almost entirely dependent upon active listening being applied by both the appraiser and the appraisee. It is clear that the purpose of listening is to make the shift from talking to listening. Developing active listening skills takes practice and at times a lot of concentration.
Sometimes pauses or silences in performance appraisals discussions can be used to help both parties listen more effectively to each other.
An equally important communication skill for a manager in the performance appraisal discussion is the use of language. He/she in a bid to get a positive result in the appraisal process must:
- Choose a language that the worker will understand quickly
- Talk to get his/her point across not to show that he/she is a ‘gifted orator.’
- Check for understanding if the topic or subject area is technical and
- Watch out for jargon, acronyms and ‘big words’ (must employ the use of simple words that does not need further explanations or derail the process).