“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Not all churches or Christian organisations have a formal review system in place for employees. Often it is felt that matters can be raised as and when they come to light without a formal meeting on a regular basis. It can’t be denied that the appraisal process can be time consuming for managers and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day! Having said that, we are taught as brothers and sisters in Christ to edify one another and build each other up. Should that be any less applicable within the workplace, for those who work in fellowship for us and with us? In this article, we consider the question: is it worth the effort, or is the staff appraisal process just a box-ticking exercise?

Are staff appraisals worth the effort?

Whilst there is no legal requirement to have a formal appraisal system in place, it can be a useful tool for several reasons:

1) It establishes a good discipline for appraiser and appraisee. A regular review may identify and address issues that may otherwise go unnoticed (or which a manager may be tempted to let slide). Knowing there is a fixed date or pattern for an appraisal to happen can help ensure reviews happen, and sends the positive message to all that the working relationship matters.

2) It is better to identify performance issues early on and address them before they become habitual. Improvements are more likely to be achieved when addressed early on and in a supportive environment. If matters are not addressed and simply build up to the point where formal action is required, there will be less understanding of why it is necessary, and formal action is less likely to be perceived as fair. Through an appraisal process, an employee can be given “fair warning” of concerns.

3) It helps with encouragement and building each other up. It can be motivating for employees. Sometimes employees do not receive positive feedback. There can be a tendency for some line managers to only raise negative matters with their line reports, with many employees having to work on the premise that “no news is good news”. An appraisal is not simply about the negative, but should identify and encourage the positive. Taking time to review the last year’s work / 6 months’ work with an employee and point out their strengths can be very encouraging and uplifting. It is also an ideal place to set objectives if there are promotions / new positions to aim for over the coming year. These may be discussions and encouragements that may otherwise not naturally happen.

4) It aids consistency. An organisation-wide process means employees are treated in the same way and reviewed at regular intervals. It is not a case of “singling” someone out (or someone feeling singled out) by having a review on the whim of a line manager when they consider there is a problem which needs to be tackled. Consistency can reduce the risk of unlawful discrimination, not just by having a consistent process, but by having comparable data / info for employees that can then be used to establish where issues are arising and provide justification for taking steps.

5) It aids wider discussions. Everyday workplace discussions with line managers will more naturally focus upon work. Factors outside work, such as family situations or struggles in personal discipleship, which could be highly significant – impacting work and welfare either now or in the future – are less likely to come up in normal conversation. An appraisal process can be structured to allow discussion around these wider areas and be a tool for support and growth, alongside the employee’s church.

6) It facilitates openness and honesty. Employees may struggle to volunteer (and admit) their concerns or struggles. An appraisal process provides a framework and the regular opportunity to do so. Wise questions can tease out such matters. Bringing them into the open means the chance to have another come alongside you, rather than try to deal with matters alone, trusting in your own skill and strength.

7) It is a listening and learning exercise for all involved. There are limited opportunities for those who line manage others to humbly listen to and learn from those they manage. A wise process will allow the individual to raise concerns, feedback and share their own ideas with their line manager.

Give your appraisal process its own appraisal

We would expect an appraisal process for a Christian organisation to differ from that for other organisations, not least in its desire to support staff in their spiritual welfare. So, if you do have a current appraisal process, it may be worth giving it its own “appraisal” to check it does all you need.

If you would like to check your process against ours, or if you do not have a current appraisal process, and would like to introduce one, we have a template pack tailored for Christian organisations, comprising an appraisal policy and a template appraisal form. This is available for purchase for £30 + VAT. Or if you would like to discuss performance issues or reviews with a member of the Employment Team, please contact us.

Please give us a call if you want to talk through your requirements and find out how we might be able to help you.

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