Keith Wright, managing director of school improvement planning specialists Bluewave.SWIFT, gives advice for both appraisers and appraisees on ways to make this autumn’s first performance related pay meeting go smoothly…
This autumn thousands of performance management meetings will be held up and down the country.
Nothing unusual in that. It happens every year. But this year they will have a new intensity about them because the stakes will be so much higher.
For this year those meetings will decide how teachers will be paid for the next 12 months.
The meeting will be the culmination of a performance management process – the first under the new performance related pay regime – which began this time last year.
At that time both sides – the teacher and the performance manager – would have met to discuss and set performance objectives and the criteria against which the appraisee would be judged. Progress towards these objectives would have been reviewed at another meeting earlier this year and revised if necessary.
From the very start of the process the person being appraised should have been gathering evidence to show that they were meeting those objectives and collated this in an online system, making it easier for the appraiser to monitor their progress.
The smooth running of this autumn’s meeting to decide whether the performance of thousands of teachers merit pay progression very much depends on how well this year long process has been carried out. If both sides have been clear about expectations and obligations at the beginning then the process will have been built on firm foundations.
But having said that there is still much that both participants in the performance management relationship can do to ensure that the meeting goes smoothly and that both sides get what they want.
Here are some suggestions for both appraisee and appraiser that will help:
For the appraisee:
* Prepare the evidence. You should already have been gathering evidence to show that you are meeting performance objectives. Make sure that your body of evidence is complete and that it makes a compelling case. Lesson plans and preparation, observation judgements, marking records….it all stacks up. Remember that you need to write a great story about you. If you don’t collect the evidence in a systematic way then you can’t tell that story – and you can’t be rewarded for it either.
* Be informed. Know the pay policy backwards and make sure that the evidence you collect meets the ‘triangle’ of performance measures: career stage expectations, performance objectives and professional standards.
* Don’t ignore ‘sticky’ issues. You should know from lesson observations and feedback throughout the year about any performance issues that may be brought up in the meeting. Use this knowledge to anticipate what these will be and clearly demonstrate that you have a firm strategy to address them. This will help you mould your performance management plan for the next year.
* Plan for next year. Lesson observations and feedback will already give you a firm indication of what your performance management objectives should be for the next year. Before you go into the meeting think about your aspirations for development for each area. If you bring a clear idea of future objectives into the meeting then you have a good chance of heavily influencing the performance management process for the next 12 months.
For the appraiser:
* Insist on evidence. Statements about meeting a performance objective are just statements unless they are backed up with firm evidence. This shouldn’t be a surprising demand when you come to sit down with the appraisee at this important meeting – they should already be clear about the need for evidence.
* Be objective. Make sure that the meeting is firmly anchored around the performance management objectives agreed at the start of the process and that the discussions are based on the evidence rather than preconceptions and hunches. The process is stronger if it is governed by objectivity.
* Be consistent and fair. Make sure that the questions you ask are consistent with those asked at previous meetings. There should be no surprises for the appraisee. Consistency also ensures that the performance management process is more robust and objective.
* Don’t drive the meeting. Give the appraisee every chance to lead the meeting. Remember that this is their opportunity to convince you that they have met their performance objectives.
* Be structured. At the meeting work your way down the objectives set at the very beginning of the process. Keep the discussions focused – and friendly – and avoid going off on tangents.
Keith Wright is managing director of school improvement planning specialists Bluewave.SWIFT. For further information please visit www.bluewaveswift.co.uk.
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