How many of us hold effective appraisal meetings? All too often, appraisals are not conducted in the right way, rendering them less effective and reducing their impact on the business. Effective appraisal meeting skills can be improved if we follow some basic steps.
We are about to provide you with a guide to show you how to conduct effective appraisals, whilst avoiding common pitfalls and as a result, improving employee performance to successfully achieve company objectives.
This guide will enable you to:
- Understand the purpose and importance of effective appraisals
- Understand the Pitfalls that can arise when conducting appraisal meetings
- Understand the importance of self-appraisal
- Know the key steps involved in planning for the self-appraisal
- Be able to use the STAR Questioning technique
- Have the ability to conduct effective appraisal meetings
Conducting Effective Appraisal Meetings - A Guide For Managers
Conducting Effective Appraisal
A Guide For Managers
Conducting Effective Appraisal Meetings Slide
A) What is an appraisal
B) The importance of appraisals
C) How do you conduct an effective appraisal?
2 Benefits of conducting effective appraisals 6
3. Performance Management Cycle 7
4. The Importance Of Self-Appraisal 9
5. The Art Of Questioning
A) Quality Questions
B) STAR Technique
6. Common pitfalls and overcoming them
A) Pitfalls and solutions
B) What are SMART objectives?
7. How To Conduct Effective Appraisal Meetings
A) Appraisal Process
B) Important points for Appraisers to consider when conducting an
8. Transferring To The Workplace – Your Action Plan 28
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Conducting Effective Appraisal Meetings – A Guide For Managers
Conducting Effective Appraisal Meetings
A). What is an appraisal?
An appraisal is the name given to the meeting conducted between a manager and an employee, where the
purpose is to give the Appraisee the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their work performance as well as
learning needs, in order to improve their performance.
B). The importance of appraisals
We all know that appraisals can be a challenging process for any manager. When conducted successfully,
these complex routines are a crucial element in assisting companies with achieving their targets and
objectives. An effective appraisal will provide a company with the opportunity to discover hidden talents, as
well as the chance to better develop their staff through training and nip any performance concerns in the bud!
Equally they enable employees to feel recognised and rewarded for their efforts, boosting company morale.
However, it‟s no secret that many managers dislike the process of conducting appraisals and more importantly,
many employees do not understand the purpose or value of them. Many will admit that the prospect of the
annual performance appraisal comes with an atmosphere of stress and anxiety, fearing performance criticism
and whether this will act against their professional development. In truth, appraisals can be a good opportunity
for employee recognition and business improvement – if they are done right.
But how many of us hold effective appraisal meetings? All too often, appraisals are not conducted in the right
way, rendering them less effective and reducing their impact on the business. Effective appraisal meeting
skills can be improved if we follow some basic steps.
C). So how do you conduct an effective appraisal?
We are about to provide you with a guide to show you how to conduct effective appraisals,
whilst avoiding common pitfalls and as a result, improving employee performance to
successfully achieve company objectives.
This guide will enable you to:
Understand the purpose and importance of effective appraisals
Understand the Pitfalls that can arise when conducting appraisal meetings
Understand the importance of self-appraisal
Know the key steps involved in planning for the self-appraisal
Be able to use the STAR Questioning technique
Have the ability to conduct effective appraisal meetings
2). Benefits of conducting effective appraisals
An appraisal conducted effectively can have a significant impact on the success of the business
and can be extremely valuable to the staff management process. They are a key tool in evaluating
and planning employee performance and personal development. Appraisals are the opportunity for
managers to give positive feedback to employees, encouraging them to improve their daily
performance whilst making them aware of the company‟s long term objectives and how they
contribute to achieving these.
We have captured some of the key benefits effective appraisals can bring to a business:
Links task performance to the business performance
Opportunity to “stretch” and develop people
Opportunity to recognise employees contribution
Improves motivation as showing an interest
Learn from what worked and what didn‟t work
– improves future productivity
People know where they stand
Early warning of under-performing issues
3). Performance Management Cycle
The Performance Management Cycle is essential in the creation of a businesses‟ Performance
Management Strategy and in learning how to maintain it. It is the system by which we can implement
continuing motivation in the workplace.
Below is a typical performance management cycle diagram. It contains 4 stages that should be
considered when implementing a performance management scheme:
The cycle follows the above 4 stages, moving in a clockwise direction - setting
objectives, reviewing performance regularly, providing adequate
training, support and resources and conducting a performance review
Stage 1 – Define and agree on employee objectives. Use the SMART technique to
plan clear and measureable goals as explained on slide 22 of this guide.
Stage 2 – Review performance regularly through coaching; track, monitor, support
and provide feedback on performance.
Stage 3 - Provide adequate training and resources to continue to develop
employees and improve performance
Stage 4 – Conduct an appraisal to review performance and measure if objectives
have been achieved
NB: Do not forget throughout this cycle, the importance of rewarding where
necessary – i.e relating pay to performance, career development and recognising
4) The Importance Of Self-Appraisal
It‟s important to remember that both parties have the right to contribute. In fact, taking this
concept one step forward, the Appraiser should ask themselves the following question:
“Who knows their job best, me, or the Appraisee?”
The answer is obviously the Appraisee as they know their job better than anybody.
Therefore it‟s vital that the Appraisee prepares for this
meeting, documenting how well their task objectives have
been met. This empowers the Appraisee to think of this
performance review meeting as one in which they take
the lead on and communicate to the appraiser their successes.
There are four key actions that the Appraisee needs to be aware of in order to plan for their
performance appraisal meeting. They should consider:
Did their Objective(s) get re-prioritised? This is important as this changes which objectives the
Appraisee needed to focus upon and which objectives needed to be abandoned or delayed.
Checking their task outcomes - in terms of success criteria, i.e. quantity, quality, time
and cost. These objective criteria demonstrate how the Appraisee can measure the
success of their work. This avoids subjectivity. All well written Objectives contain
measurements. They can then review the evidence.
Review the value of any training/development - Has this helped them complete their
objectives? The Appraisee may have attended a valuable training course. What did they
learn and how did they apply this learning on the Objective(s).
Discuss their career development aspirations - Performance Review appraisal
meetings gives the Appraisee the platform to discuss where they wish to take their career.
Delivering high performance against agreed Objectives is naturally followed by what else
they can do for the Company.
Have a form template on us – You can
ensure your employees are prepared
thoroughly for their appraisal.
[Name of Company]
The purpose of the Appraisal meeting is to enable you and your Manager to review your job performance, look at previous
objectives and whether they have been achieved, agree on future objectives and identify your training and development
needs, in line with the plans of the xxx.
In order to prepare for the Appraisal meeting, please complete this Self-Assessment Form prior to the Appraisal meeting,
and then bring it with you. It will form part of your discussions with your Manager and reference will be made to this
Self-Assessment Form during your meeting. Please also bring with you to the meeting your current Job Description. (If
you need a copy, please obtain one from the HR Officer).
Please feel free to bring any further information you think is appropriate to the Appraisal meeting relating to any issues
you would like to discuss.
Please note the appraisal is confidential between you, your Manager and Human Resources. Any documents you attach
will not be seen by anyone else without your agreement. (After the appraisal, a copy of all the completed forms and
related information will be forwarded to the HR Officer for the file.)
Name: ………………………………… Position: …………………………………………....
Name of Appraiser: …………………………………………………………………………………..
Date/Time of Appraisal: ………….………………………………………………………………….
PART A – PERFORMANCE AND COMPETENCIES
Please indicate below how you would rate yourself against the headings stated and include comments where appropriate.
NB: Please be honest– it will help to set future tasks and objectives to encourage improvement
Work rate / effort
Supervision of direct reports
Customer Service skills
Management of pressure
Safe working practices
Other (specific to role)
Area for development performance does not consistently meet the standard required for the position; significant
development is needed to improve
Meets expectations performance consistently meets the standard required for the position
Exceeds expectations performance is consistently above the standard required for the position
Outstanding performance is consistently superior to standards required for the position
PART B – JOB DESCRIPTON/JOB ROLE
1. With reference to your Job Description, do you understand all the requirements of your position?
(If No, please detail herewith any areas you wish to discuss)
2. With reference to your Job Description, do you feel there are any duties that are not being carried out?
(If so, please comment on why and what action is needed to achieve these requirements.)
3. Have you had much interaction with other xxx over the last 12 months?
(If so, please comment)
4. Would you like to have more interaction with other xxx and, if so, how would you see us facilitating this?
PART C – OBJECTIVES
1. What objectives do you feel you have achieved over the last 12 months?
2. Where objectives have not been achieved, what has prevented you from achieving them?
3. What objectives do you think need to be set for the next 12 month review period?
4. What action is needed (if any) for you to achieve these objectives? (Include details of further instruction or
training if appropriate.)
PART D – GENERAL COMMENTS
1. What skills have you improved or learned in the appraisal period?
2. Any comments you wish to make regarding future aspirations and/or expectations regarding your career?
3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What kind of work would you like to be doing?
4. Describe/give examples when you have demonstrated any of the values:
(Quality, Integrity, Authority, Customer Focus, Empowerment, Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, Creativity,
5. Any other comments you wish to make or discuss at your Appraisal meeting?
Signed: ……………………………………………………… Dated: ………………………
5) The Art Of Questioning
A) Quality Questions
The most important skill demonstrated by the Appraiser is the art of asking quality questions. This is
imperative if the Appraiser is to succeed in their role of facilitator. Rudyard Kipling summarised this very
“I keep six honest serving men, they
taught me all I knew, their names are
“What” and “Why” and “When and “How”
and “Where” and “Who.”
B) STAR Questioning Technique
One of the most appropriate open questioning techniques is that based on behavioural questioning,
i.e., the STAR technique
S – SITUATION
T – TASK
A – ACTION
R – RESULT
When discussing the task accomplishment with the Appraisee, the same technique is used to elicit
information - just like interviewing external candidates for selection purposes.
Here’s an example of what STAR questions look like -
“Appraiser – „‟Keith, can you describe to me a situation you have encountered
where a process has had to be reviewed and improved? What was the business
significance of tackling this objective? (SITUATION)
"Describe to me the task objective that was agreed to improve this process."
“What did you do to resolve the problem?" (ACTION)
“What was the final outcome?" (RESULT)
6) Common Pitfalls And Overcoming Them
A). Pitfalls and solutions
There are many pitfalls managers can stumble into when conducting performance appraisals -
here are some of the most common, along with simple solutions you can try in order to
Pitfall: Surprises‟ being raised in the meeting
In many instances, it is highly likely that there were no regular communications between the Appraiser and the Appraisee prior to the meeting.
Solution: To combat this issue the answer is to have more regular reviews so that for this performance meeting, both parties are able to provide
evidence that they can agree upon.
Pitfall: One or both parties hasn‟t prepared for the meeting
At a Performance Appraisal Meeting it‟s vital that the Appraisee leads the meeting and as such, it‟s important they prepare for this meeting. Equally
the Appraiser should be prepared for this meeting – though this is not always the case.
Solution: If the Appraisee hasn‟t prepared, ask them why not? Uncover the real reasons for this and discuss these. If the Appraiser hasn‟t prepared
sufficiently then, so long as there have been regular progress discussions, the Appraiser should facilitate the meeting, ask questions and listen.
Pitfall: Appraiser „tells‟ rather than „joins‟
Catch yourself „telling‟ and not listening? Check this by identifying who is doing most of the talking. If it‟s the Appraiser then this isn‟t right.
Solution: The Appraiser should ask more questions. By asking questions the Appraiser will naturally adopt a more consultative approach and the
Appraisee is free to lead the meeting.
Pitfall: Appraisee is confronted by new evidence at the meeting
In some instances the Appraisee is confronted with new information during the meeting that they were not expecting and as a result had not
Solution: Then the Appraiser should check out the evidence corroborated by third party evidence, wherever possible. If the Appraiser is unsure as
to the facts, they should ask for time out to talk to the relevant parties so gather all the information. They should also ask why this information hadn‟t
been communicated to them before.
Pitfall: Disagreement on the success of the Objective
It may be the case that during the appraisal there is a disagreement on the success of a particular objective.
Solution: The Appraiser should go back to the SMART objectives previously set with the Appraisee, with a particular focus on the
success criteria originally agreed. (For those who are not familiar with SMART, the use of SMART objectives is covered below).
Following this, use evidence to back your view, ask for examples from the person and review the gap.
B). What are SMART objectives?
Setting objectives is important for any organisation because they clearly focus the overall aims of the business. The clearer
and more specific the objectives, the more likely they are to succeed.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that is used to guide the development of measurable goals. Each objective should be:
Specific answers the questions "what is to be done?" "How will you know it is done?" and describes what
the end product should look like. When setting your objectives you should answer the 6 „W‟ questions –
who, what, where, when, which, why?
Measurable answers the question "how will you know it meets expectations?" and defines the objective
using assessable terms (quantity, quality, frequency, costs, deadlines, etc.).
Achievable answers the questions "can the person do it?" "Can the measurable objective be achieved by
the person?" "Does he/she have the experience, knowledge or capability of fulfilling the expectation?"
Relevant answers the questions, "should it be done?" "why?" and "what will be the impact?"
Time-oriented answers the question, "when will it be done?" It refers to the fact that an objective has end
points and check points built into it.
Examples of setting SMART objectives:
1). Non SMART objective: Learn how use the advanced features of PowerPoint
Learn, by the end of March 2014, use animation and slide master on the next sales proposal
that 100% sales staff agree is more professional than the previous sales proposal.
2). Non SMART objective: Increase the financial results of the department
Increase revenues by 100% Quarter on Quarter until July 2015 with operating costs remaining
at 2014 levels
7) How To Conduct Effective Appraisal Meetings
A) Appraisal Process
Plan for the Meeting (both of you!)
- Both of you bring along the evidence that you will have discussed already. Make sure
that you book a quiet room where you will not be disrupted. Mobiles will be switched
Set the Scene
- Explain the purpose of the meeting and the roles, i.e. Appraiser is the facilitator whereas the Appraisee will be driving
the meeting. Explain that there will be no surprises as both of you have been in regular communications about the
task in hand and its outcomes.
Encourage the Appraisee to review their performance first
- Get the Appraisee to give their views on the task outputs and success criteria met. This will help you shape how you
frame your feedback. Listen.
Probe to find out how they have approached tasks/objectives
- Ask open questions using the STAR technique. Probe for detailed examples and what happened as a result. If the
results weren‟t the best, what was learnt? How could they handle it differently? What support do they need? This
provides good data to assess their ongoing future development needs. This is a great opportunity to give recognition
for a job well done!
Review the relevance of development/resources provided
- The Appraisee might have undergone training/coaching etc as part of their development. Ask how this went? Was it
relevant? Did the development give them additional skills to tackle the task in hand? Were the resources given to the
Appraisee relevant and appropriate? Did these resources make a key difference to getting the task completed?
- Get the Appraisee to summarise the task outcomes of each Objective versus SMART objectives agreed. Ask the
Appraisee to review how these newly learnt skills can assist them in taking on more responsibility and how it may help
their career develop within the company. The role of the Appraiser is to check out the accuracy of the Appraisee's
summary to make sure everybody is „on the same page‟. It also gives the opportunity for the Appraiser to recognise
and congratulate the Appraisee on a job well done!
B) Important points for Appraisers to consider when conducting an appraisal meeting
These notes are provided as a reminder about points to consider whilst conducting the appraisal process.
Many of the points you will of course already be familiar with, but hopefully will just help as a focus in the
preparation and execution of appraisal meetings.
Points for Consideration
Celebrate achievements and provide constructive feedback where more needs to
be one (identifying why and how);
Discuss good points first and then go on to issues where improvement may be
Ask them which things they are least happy with (ie where objectives not met, difficult to achieve what is required of them,
There is no point in glossing over employees‟ weak points – it is important to encourage employees to discuss their
development needs openly and encourage them to suggest ways in which they can improve – try to get employees to
suggest their own solutions;
Be wary of scoring too high or too low. One way is to judge an employee against their peers – is their performance
stronger or weaker than average? This may help you make your best (and worst) staff stand out from the average
Try not to base your comments on the last few months, which are likely to be foremost in your mind. Whilst mention may
be made on recent improvement (or decline), you must give equal weight to the full 12 months;
As well as task objectives, the staff member may need to focus on competencies (ie behaviours) relating perhaps
to customer service, team work, interaction with other departments etc;
Objectives should be about what you are trying to achieve – a link between individual objectives and those of the
department and business as a whole.
By jointly agreeing objectives and development needs, staff are contributing to achieving business goals;
By involving the staff member in discussing and setting objectives, it is likely to make the objectives more
relevant to them and better understood;
Objectives should be SMART, ie
- Specific – what does the employee need to achieve?
- Measurable – how will you both know when an objective has been achieved?
- Achievable – it needs to be challenging but also achievable
- Relevant – do the objectives relate to those of the department/business?
- Time – by when do the objectives need to be achieved?
Whilst agreement needs to be reached on objectives, future action/training etc, remember this is your record and
opinion. Whilst employees should be asked for their opinions on the feedback you give them, the objective of this is
to ensure that they understand your perspective, not to ensure that they agree with it.
Retirement – whilst we are no longer able to ask people if and when they intend retiring, we can still ask about
people‟s aspirations, thoughts for the future and where they see themselves being in 5 years‟ time. As this
question is included in every appraisal form, it is perfectly legitimate, so long as everyone is asked the same
Remember that „development‟ is not restricted to training courses. Think about coaching, mentoring, holiday job
cover, shadowing, distance-learning, e-learning, books, videos, attending meeting, workshops, manual and
guides, giving presentations, anything relevant and helpful to help the person develop;
Be brave and seek feedback on yourself from your employee – are there things that you need to improve on (in
their view), more you can do to facilitate their role and/or help achieve their objectives or career aspirations?
The important questions the employee wants answered at an appraisal are – „How am I doing?‟ „Are you
pleased with my work?‟ „Is there a future for me with this organisation?‟
The new appraisal forms are not set in stone –feedback is welcomed after this year‟s appraisals.
An appraisal can be an extremely valuable tool in motivating employees and helps staff become more engaged
with the organisation as a whole and with their own work. They also help in recording discussions, agreed
action and objectives (so that you can refer to it later if you need to).
Please do not just see it as a form filling exercise – make the most of it and enjoy it!
8) Transferring To The Workplace – Your Action Plan
We hope you have found this document to be useful, but as you will be aware, the real test is applying what you‟ve
learnt back on the job. Thinking about actions now will help build motivation and focus to put them in practice in your
Below is an action plan for you to complete, which is designed to trigger you to monitor the effectiveness of those
actions. From a business perspective it‟s vital that we see results from training. This process will help you get the most
from this session and feel motivated to act.
When completing your action plan, ask yourself:
- What is one thing you will do differently to conduct more effective Appraisal meetings?
- What is the NEXT Appraisal meeting opportunity that they are going to apply these new skills on?
MY ACTION PLAN
Putting into practice:
What were my learning objectives?
What did I learn?
How do the learnings relate to my current job?
How specifically will I apply these new skills back on-the-job?
In what way will these new skills make me better at my job?
How will I measure my skill improvements?
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