The annual interview, even if it is not compulsory, represents an interesting tool for the employer. 60% of employees take part in this exercise each year and this figure climbs to 86% in mid-sized companies. Once a year, it is used to assess the employee. This exchange is a strong moment for the protagonists: for it to be successful, the manager must prepare upstream. Today, only 1 in 2 employees find it useful. A finding that would perhaps justify a questioning to optimize the course of this annual interview.
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What is the annual employee interview?
The employee’s assessment interview is the employer’s right: it can take the form of an annual interview. The latter is an exchange which makes it possible to take stock of the work carried out last year and to take stock of the employee’s future objectives.
This annual interview is optional. However, when companies decide to set it up, they must comply with certain legal conditions. First of all, the employer must inform the employee in advance of the valuation techniques. The latter must in no case be based on discriminatory criteria. When the annual maintenance is carried out in a company, it is imperative that all employees benefit from it. It is not possible, for example, to evaluate only the sales pole or the marketing department.
Regarding the conduct of said interview, the manager can use an assessment grid. He is not required to submit a report to the employee at the end of the meeting, unless the collective agreement requires it. For this type of exchange, no employee representative can be present. The annual interview can result in decisions with a strong impact for the employee, such as an increase in his remuneration, for example, or a promotion. Conversely, a bad appraisal does not give the employer the right to demote the employee or lower his salary.
What is the purpose of the annual maintenance?
In a nutshell, the annual maintenance is quite simply a review of the year. It represents a key moment of exchange between the employee and his manager. This one-on-one meeting is important for the employee, since it gives him time to speak and allows him to identify his weaknesses and areas for improvement. For the manager, it is also an essential meeting: the opportunity to establish dialogue and boost both productivity and well-being. The annual maintenance is the occasion:
- To assess the professional skills of the employee and to identify possible avenues to complete and develop them.
- To take stock of the objectives set and their achievement and to define those for the coming year.
- To value the strengths of the employee and to highlight the weaknesses, in order to overcome them.
- To discuss any problems encountered in the course of the work and to find together relevant solutions.
- To retain and engage employees by talking about their prospects for development within the company.
- To let the employee express themselves with an open heart.
Warning, do not confuse annual maintenance and professional maintenance. The latter is compulsory every two years within the company, in accordance with the Labor Code. It is more interested in the training and development of the employee and is part of a skills development plan. On this occasion, the employer reminds the employee of his rights in terms of training and the possibility he has to benefit from professional development advice (CEP). The annual maintenance, for its part, remains optional but certain collective agreements may mention it and impose it.
7 tips for a successful annual interview as a manager
- Prepare for the annual maintenance
- Offer the employee to take part in their interview
- Accept the employee’s remarks
- Welcoming each other’s emotions
- Value work
- Being a diplomat
- Honoring your commitments
Prepare for the annual maintenance
The success of the annual maintenance requires proper preparation. There is no question for the manager (or for the employee, for that matter) of going to this meeting without having carefully prepared it: improvisation is not allowed. To begin with, if the employee has been in the company for more than a year, it is advisable to take the balance sheet from the previous year. This is an essential first point to check whether the objectives defined on this occasion have indeed been achieved. This report will give a guideline for the future interview.
Then, the manager must also prepare a framework with the different subjects he wishes to raise. The questions must relate only to the professional aspect and in no case to address the private life of the collaborator. Here are some examples of questions to ask:
- What words would you use to define the past year?
- What were the difficulties encountered during the year?
- What did you miss to achieve your goals?
- What are the activities that require the most effort from you?
Suggest to the employee to make his own assessment
The main actor in this annual interview must be the employee. It may therefore be interesting to reverse the roles and suggest that he take stock of his weaknesses and strengths himself. This exercise is not always easy: it is often more obvious to see your own flaws than to highlight your strengths. But this self-assessment is precisely the opportunity for the employee to take a step back and gain height while gaining self-confidence. Then, the manager will be able to bounce back by giving his own feeling. Perceptions can sometimes be totally different and this way of proceeding will create a real dialogue.
Accept the remarks and objections of your interlocutor
The annual interview should never be a monologue from the manager: it is an exchange. Everyone must have their speaking time and they must be able to accept the employee’s objections, and above all, to understand them. The success of an annual interview is closely linked to the manager’s openness and ability to listen to criticism. After having mentioned the strengths and weaknesses of the employee, why not take the time to also talk about his feelings about management techniques? He will thus be able to express his point of view so that the manager can also improve in his own work.
Welcoming emotions with kindness
While the interview is often a source of stress for the employee, it can also be for the manager, especially the first few times. We must expect to face strong reactions. Some employees tend to internalize their feelings throughout the year and they then re-emerge during the meeting. Managers must therefore be ready to accept various emotions (sadness, anger or even disappointment) and to accept them. Kindness is essential to make the interlocutor feel at ease, as is empathy. Sometimes, when there is tension, it may also be necessary to burst the abscess early in the interview, so that the discussion is more peaceful and constructive afterwards.
Recognize a job well done
Even if the annual interview makes it possible to discuss weaknesses and determine areas for improvement, the manager must also value the work of employees. This recognition is essential to ensure their professional well-being and to make them want to invest in the long term. During the exchange, the manager can for example cite specific situations in which the employee had good ideas and / or obtained very satisfactory results. Obviously, this does not prevent the difficulties from pointing out, but here again, it is important to bring something positive: not just to say that things are not going well, but to propose solutions to remedy them. This dynamic will allow the employee to leave the interview more motivated than ever.
There are always more delicate subjects during an annual interview. The employee arrives with expectations, but unfortunately the company cannot always meet them. It is up to the manager to convey the message. Even if the substance may displease the employee, it is always possible to work on the form, by showing diplomacy.
The subject of remuneration is a good example. To formulate a simple refusal following a request for an increase, for example, without giving more explanations or perspectives, risks creating frustration. On the other hand, it is possible to motivate the employee with an encouraging speech: if this time the company does not foresee a salary increase, its efforts will pay off the following year.
Keep the commitments made
Once the annual maintenance is over, it is finally now that it all begins. The manager has a real groundwork to do, so that this exchange is not in vain. During the meeting, he may have undertaken to provide the employee with new tools or to increase their skills. He will therefore have to keep the commitments made in order to maintain his credibility and maintain the confidence of the employee. It is very important not to make empty promises.
During the interview, if the manager is not sure of being able to access a request, he can offer his interlocutor to give him an answer later. In all cases, scheduling follow-up appointments is recommended, in order to provide optimal support to the employee throughout the year.
A field of expression for employees, the annual interview is also very important for the manager who comes out of it growing up. For him, this is the opportunity to take stock of his management style and draw the necessary conclusions. If this formal meeting is an effective tool, it should not however be the only time for discussion during the year. Continuous dialogue is very important to maintain employee motivation and commitment: two essential levers for boosting their well-being and productivity. Combined with regular follow-ups throughout the year, the annual maintenance is a real vector of quality of life at work.
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