Tips for successful employee appraisals

Performance appraisals are important within the workplace as they provide a forum where employees can discuss their past performance and future development opportunities with their manager. They allow for a dialogue between manager and employee to develop where team and business objectives can be discussed and linked to the employee’s personal goals.


Many employees do not like appraisals and many managers find it difficult to do them correctly so here are a few tips to help you along.


  1. Brush up on your appraisal skills


If you haven’t received any formal training on performance management, now is the time to look into it. Even if you have, consider seeking a refresher to ensure you’re up to date on company policy. Consider asking your peers for some honest feedback on your management style as this could affect your ability to undertake effective appraisals.


  1. Preparation is key


Arrange a private meeting venue with as few distractions as possible. Give the employee sufficient notice (two weeks is ideal) and an overview of the process in advance. If your organisation asks staff to complete a self-appraisal form, ensure this is issued well in advance of the meeting.


  1. Encourage a two-way, open discussion


Ask the employee open questions relating to their performance. Offer positive feedback, thanks and praise for areas in which they have excelled. If they identify any areas for development, acknowledge these and steer the conversation towards ways in which these might be improved through training or additional support.


  1. Remember to listen


It is vital to actively listen and consider non-verbal cues such as body language. Don’t interrupt the employee when they are speaking, although you may wish to ask probing questions to clarify meaning. Before moving on to the next discussion point, take a moment to summarise the conversation and check mutual agreement and understanding of future expectations.


  1. Incorporate the 7 drivers of employee engagement into your discussion


This will enable staff to reflect openly on how they are feeling within the workplace. You could ask employees to answer the following questions using a Likert scale, for example 0 (never) to 5 (always) – this is a good way to track any changes.


Freedom – do they have the flexibility to choose and make decisions?

Clarity – are there clear goals and a purpose?

Challenge – do they have enjoyable and relevant work?

Growth – do they have opportunities to develop?

Recognition – are they receiving praise and appreciation?

Togetherness – is there cooperation, support and trust within the team?

Voice – are their ideas and opinions respected?


  1. Offer regular feedback


Give staff the opportunity to discuss their performance on an ad-hoc basis – not just at their annual performance review. Take the opportunity to discuss performance both formally and informally, ensuring training and development are regularly offered when required.


  1. Ensure objectives are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound


Make sure the employee is in agreement with all of these points before finalising the objective, as they may have a different view. Objectives should also be aligned to overall business goals so that employees can see where they fit into the ‘bigger picture’ and how they can make a positive contribution. Consider taking copies of your own personal objectives, team goals and the business priorities over the coming months and years so they can be considered as part of the objective-setting process.


  1. Document a record of the discussion


A copy should be issued to the employee as soon as possible after the meeting. Offer them the opportunity to suggest any required changes once they have had time to reflect.


Effective appraisals should be a positive experience for both manager and employee where discussion should be honest and two-way.  If this is an area that you struggle with within your company, there is help out there to make it easier. If you feel that your business can benefit from external guidance on this or any other HR related issues, contact Julie on 07858 089006 or by email to