Performance Appraisal of Staff with Autism: 3 Best Practices
To ensure that Staff with autism in their organisations perform to the highest possible degree, Employers can implement a set of Best Practices.
Best Practice 1: Make the Most out of a Probationary Period
The first essential step towards a successful employment process and therefore, long-term support and employment retention is to ensure that candidates with Autism are suitable for a specific job. Employers should explain the probationary period purpose to candidates, and describe the performance appraisal process. The suitability assessment begins with the very first interview and continues over the course of a probationary period (usually three to six months), during which the skills, competences, knowledge and training needs are assessed. In order to be more prepared to facilitate this process, Managers can utilise the ASES Tools described in Module 6. During probation period, Managers should monitor the progress and performance of employees with Autism, provide regular/constructive feedback and satisfy their training needs through coaching and/or mentoring.
Best Practice 2: Implement Long-term Performance Management Procedures
Performance Management for all staff – regardless of ability – should be an ongoing process that lasts throughout the entire employment cycle. Managers can stay in touch with the progress of employees by scheduling ‘review’ sessions in a one-to-one or even group format. The frequency of Performance Review Sessions can be agreed upon between Managers and Employees, although usually different organisations have their own management policies with pre-defined parameters.
Performance Review sessions can be structured by Managers in different ways, according to the needs of employees and objectives of each session. The agenda of sessions may include:
- Discussions of day-to-day events, challenges, highlights, conflicts, positive experiences, inspirations etc.
- Provision of Feedback; Managers can utilise Performance Review Sessions to provide constructive feedback in order to praise good performance, or discuss areas of improvement in the case of under-performance.
- Discussion on the social aspects of work, relationships with colleagues
- Reception and discussion of employee feedback regarding job satisfaction and concern
Best Practice 3: Be mindful when dealing with Poor Performance
Poor performance during the entire course of the employment cycle is a possibility that all employees may be susceptible to for various reasons. This is especially the case with employees with Autism, because:
- They are often challenged to perform to expected standards in an environment that may not necessarily enable them to do so
- They may not be fully aware of their responsibilities
- They may be facing communication difficulties
- They may not be motivated
There are a few ways to mitigate this risk and deal with Poor Performance such as:
- Managers/Employers should assess the work environment and implement reasonable adjustments in order to accommodate the employee with Autism, and of course, without compromising the work of other employees (see Work Environmental Evaluation Tool and Guide – Module 6).
- Managers/Employers should maintain consistent communication and provide Constructive Feedback
- Managers/Employers should investigate causes of problems during preparation for Feedback sessions; Employers/Managers should gather as much information as possible and formulate a complete view of a problem, so they can provide accurate and meaningful feedback. Understanding the cause of a problem is the first step to finding a solution.
- Managers/Employers should provide Constructive Feedback by addressing specific issues or concerns and clarification of expectations/targets/standards.
- Managers/Employers should avoid making the problem personal by attributing it to the disability or the personality traits of the employee.
- Managers/Employers should avoid asking ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions when asking for explanations and clarifications; Employees have the right to explain their situation and rationale behind their actions.
- Managers/Employers should always ask if the employee needs help, and what they can do to provide more support.
- Managers/Employers should always discuss the motivation levels of employees and try to understand why they do not feel motivated to perform.