Topic: Supervisory Communication and Appraisal Interview

Author(s), Title and Publication
Gordon, M. E., & Stewart, L. P. (2009). Conversing about performance: Discursive resources for the appraisal interview. Management Communication Quarterly, 22(3), 473-501.

This article identified various resources available for the organization to prepare for and conduct efficient appraisal interviews. The authors propose a communication-centered approach to appraisal interviews, which consists of a pre-interview phase, interview phase, and outcomes (efficiency and effectiveness).

In the pre-interview phase, an organization may increase employees’ awareness of appraisal interviews by 1) mentioning stories about it in different organizational media for several weeks, 2) emphasizing potential benefits of the performance interview in media announcements, and 3) mentioning appropriate conversational tactics to use. At the individual level, the interview will be more effective if managers and subordinates have a shared vocabulary, and if subordinates have the opportunity to contribute to design of the interview questions.

In the interview phase, interviews might be more effective if 1) they’re conducted face-to-face; 2) there is a template to guide discussion; 3) common ground is established with a series of background questions; 4) focus is limited to several topics; 5) the interview is part of conversation about the interviewee’s performance; 6) the interviewers enact appropriate communicator roles (e.g., counselor) and communicate in a problem-solving approach; 7) the interviewers give subordinates suggestions about appropriate communication acts with verbal and nonverbal behaviors (e.g., smiles and nods); 8) nonthreatening and reflective questions are asked; and 9) the interview relates employees’ job assignments with their personal goals or career development in the future.

Implications for Practice
Managers may conduct more effective and efficient appraisal interviews by focusing on communication tactics described above. These formalize and structure appraisal interviews to create most value for both the interviewee and interviewer.

Location of Article
The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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