Appraisal is a process designed to help each individual to critically assess him/herself. Through
such critical self assessment it is hoped that the individual will develop his/her skills. This process
requires a careful consideration of personal aims and objectives. It begins with the appraisee
completing the Self-Report Form. This requires the appraisee to reflect on the work undertaken in
the past year, to look forward and propose a personal work plan for the coming year and to consider
his/her needs for training or the upgrading of skills. This Self Report is the basis for discussion
during the Appraisal interview. In addition, both the appraisee and the appraiser may wish to raise
matters which appear relevant.
The appraisal interview is an opportunity for the appraiser to share observations concerning the
performance and objectives of the appraisee, within the context in which both work.
During the appraisal interview the appraiser may provide honest feedback, and, where necessary,
some work related counselling with the essential aim of developing the appraisee's potential.
It is important for both throughout the process to remember the aims of appraisal.
1) to identify and meet the developmental needs of individuals;
2) to enhance the effectiveness of NUI, Galway by improving individual effectiveness.
The appraisal discussion is intended to:
a) provide a means by which individual contributions are recognised;
b) provide feedback on individual performance;
c) assist staff develop themselves to their full potential, overcoming any problems in agreed
ways which they themselves help to define.
APPRAISAL IN HIGHER EDUCATION
In accordance with the provision of the current Social Partnership Agreement, Sustaining Progress,
and the previous agreement, the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, the Universities in Ireland
are required to implement a ‘Performance Management Scheme’. This requirement was also
established as part of the Public Service Benchmarking Exercise. In line with the agreement a Code
of Practice has been assembled by the Appraisal working group and agreed between SIPTU and NUI
Galway to provide guidance to all parties involved in the appraisal process.
Fifteen years ago UK Universities were obliged to introduce formal systems of appraisal/career review of
academic and related staff. Those systems, designed by the institutions in accord with national guidelines,
placed a strong emphasis upon personal development planning. Irish universities are now introducing similar
though perhaps rather more developed systems under very similar circumstances.
Simmons (2002) notes that “effective performance management of professionals in knowledge based
organisations has particular significance, but is an under researched area in the literature. Universities and
colleges are knowledge based organisations especially dependent on the expertise, commitment and
innovation of their staff.”
“The challenge facing universities throughout the world is one of adjusting prevailing cultures to secure
closer alignment of individual and collective goals, so that the sum of individual performance is accurately
reflected in aggregate performance.” (Gordon, 1998). Citing Bergquist (1992), he adds “In my view, that is
more likely to be achieved through effective accessing of Bergquist's four cultures of the academy (collegial,
managerial, negotiating and developmental) than by centralist attempts at micro-management” (Gordon,
Traditionally, it has been proposed that if staff are going to accept performance management / appraisal
systems then certain conditions need to apply (Lonsdale, 1990), for example separation of judgmental and
developmental aspects, and ownership by the staff involved.
Beesley et al. (2004:12) describe some of the challenges that had faced appraisal including the “difficulties of
enlisting the commitment of managers to implement the scheme positively, or at all; one called it ‘persuading
managers to manage’ and another referred to managers’ ‘resistance to or fear of performance management’.
This resistance tends to be greater amongst academic staff…” Other common challenges were:
• “close consultation with unions had brought about benefits in terms of support and co-operation;”
• “Convincing staff of the potential benefits and, linked with this, addressing the conflict between what
staff want from a scheme and what the university needs;”
• “Putting effective briefing/training in place, i.e. meeting the needs of staff at different levels, having the
time and resources to deliver training, ensuring those that need to attend do”
• “Implementing a scheme that combines flexibility (for maximum involvement) with fairness and
consistency”. (Beesley et al., 2004:13).
With regard to current practice, Beesley et al. (2004:13) found that the nature of the system could reflect how
different staff groups were viewed and may be tailored to distinct groups differently, it was often tailored to
fit in with the institution’s culture, and could be flexible in giving common guidelines but then
accommodating different best fit models in specific departments or sections.
Their findings indicated that “a crucial success factor for appraisal is good quality and extensive training for
managers that emphasises not so much the requirement to complete appraisal forms as the benefits of a high
quality appraisal discussion, linked to other aspects of performance management and staff development.”
(Beesley et al., 2004:14).
Beesley et al. (2004:14) identified “a tension between the ‘mechanistic’ aspects of appraisal – the forms, the
rules about confidentiality, the systems to make sure appraisal discussions take place, the monitoring to
ensure equality of opportunity – and the content and quality of the appraisal discussion itself. … The trick,
perhaps, is to keep the focus of the training on the skills required for a good appraisal discussion… and to
keep the mechanics as simple as possible.”
Training is identified as important, emphasising core skills such as giving and receiving feedback and setting
objectives and also their relevance for teaching, and increasingly backed up by web resources, mentoring and
coaching for managers (Beesley et al., 2004:14-15). They identified the need the need to “help appraisers and
appraisees – especially perhaps academics – to see the value of an incremental, detailed and specific approach
to objective setting and feedback” (Beesley et al., 2004:15).
They also identified the view that “schemes might be enhanced by forging stronger, but appropriate links
between personal performance and organisational development” (Beesley et al., 2004:15).
Beesley et al. (2004:16) found that “work objectives and targets have tended to be couched in vague and non-
specific terms and that under new arrangements there are moves to encourage:
• The use of SMART objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) that are agreed
and define more precisely what is required.
• Objective setting as a joint activity between appraiser and appraisee. An open, frank, two-way discussion
in which views are exchanged and feedback given.
• Objectives that are agreed and not imposed, and where the relative contributions of individuals and other
team members are clearly identified.
• Using different types of objectives appropriate to the job and the individual that may be:
o personal - specifying personal development actions that will benefit both the individual and
o maintenance - aiming to sustain an already high level of contribution or performance;
o innovative - mapping out new projects or directions.”
“All these refer back to the stated mission, objectives and operational targets of the institution. … most feel
that between 3-6 objectives are appropriate and ensure that the process does not become overly bureaucratic
or oppressive.” (Beesley et al., 2004:16).
Beesley et al. (2004:17) found some use defining skills and competencies such as using “broad job activity
headings e.g. appraisal discussions based on teaching, scholarship and research, administration and income-
generating activities, to more complex breakdowns of job skills and requirements.”
They identify strong arguments for and against pay-related appraisal and note that many people feel that
“appraisal reviews should inform rather than determine staff pay awards” (Beesley et al., 2004:19).
They discuss the identity and assignment of the appraiser and note that the “notion of ‘self-appraisal’” is
retained and “is seen to be important in making the process more acceptable to staff” (Beesley et al.,
“In order to underline the ongoing nature of performance management and moving away from seeing
appraisal as a once a year activity, the recommendation or requirement for an interim review meeting, often
less formal, is included in many schemes.” (Beesley et al., 2004:21).
Most institutions are retaining the three-person confidentiality, appraiser, appraisee and head of
department/section, which enables both room for appeal and retains a mechanism for monitoring of both
process and practice. Schemes continue to build in long-stop appeal mechanisms, which may become
important as schemes take on a wider performance-management role.” (Beesley et al., 2004:21).
“Success, particularly for the introduction of new schemes, seems to be connected with support from the head
of the institution and the senior management team.” (Beesley et al., 2004:22).
They identify a “Checklist of Good Practice” (Beesley et al., 2004:24-25).
“Much has been written about good practice in appraisal. Here are some of the messages that, based on our
experiences and those of our respondents, we feel are worth repeating.”
• Ensure that the design of the scheme reflects institutional/departmental culture and values;
• Agree a scheme that is positive and encourages staff rather than threatens and judges;
• Be clear about the aims and objectives of the scheme and how they fit into the institution's aims and
• Be specific about the name of the scheme and widely publicize it;
• State how the process fits in with other human resource/personnel policies;
• Link target setting/work planning to both personal and organisational development;
• Ensure equality of opportunity. Give all levels and categories of staff the opportunity to participate in the
• Communicate effectively about how the scheme will operate;
• Get agreement from line managers and trade unions;
• Provide support and impetus from senior managers;
• Be clear about who is doing the reviewing - have effective reporting structures in place;
• Make sure all staff are trained to operate the scheme effectively - pay attention to interpersonal skills;
• Provide guidance notes;
• Make paperwork simple and cut down on administrative time;
• Be clear about the confidentiality aspects of the information shared in the meeting;
• Encourage two way feedback;
• Ensure that what's agreed actually happens and resources for training and development are made
• Ensure time is allowed for meaningful appraisal discussions to take place;
• Have an agreed appeals procedure to follow when there is a disagreement of views;
• Promote the benefits of the scheme and what actually gets done - most schemes fail because of lack of
interest, poor skill in carrying out the discussion, and no action or feedback on outcomes of the meeting;
• Review and evaluate the progress of the scheme.”
Beesley, J., Guildford, P., Nestor, R. and Rex, S. (2004) Organisational Development in Higher Education:
Emerging Practice in Staff Appraisal and Review. Final Report 23/01/04. Sheffield: HESDA
Bergquist, W.H. (1992) The Four Cultures of the Academy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Gordon, G. (1998) Translating Institutional Objectives Into Action. University of Strathclyde.
Lonsdale, Alan (1990) Achieving institutional excellence through empowering staff: An approach to
performance management in higher education. In Moses, Ingrid (Ed.) Higher Education in the Late
Twentieth Century: Reflections on a Changing System, pp.91-107. Sydney: HERDSA.
Simmons, J. (2002) An ‘expert witness’ perspective on performance appraisal in universities and colleges.
Employee Relations, Mar;24(1): 86-100.
ATTITUDES TO APPRAISAL
Whilst Appraisal schemes have been in use in other areas of employment for many years, Appraisal
within the Higher Education is a relatively recent phenomena. It is now seen as an essential part of
a career training and development programme.
As with all innovations, its implementation evoked a variety of responses. Both appraisers and
appraisees voiced some misgivings. Similarly, both appraisers and appraisees acknowledged the
possibility that some tangible benefits might result from the introduction of an Appraisal Scheme.
The Main Obstacles to the Implementation of a Useful Appraisal Scheme
were seen as:
On the Appraisee Appraiser Institution
- of exposure - of conflict - that appraisal may create
- of criticism - of subjectivity unrealistic expectations
- of prejudice - of insufficient skills amongst staff therefore
FEAR - of personality clash leading to decreased morale
- of disciplinary proceedings
- of coercion - that appraisal may encourage
- of loss of academic freedom staff to over value themselves
- of lack of confidentiality
- of unrealistic targets - that appraisal may create a
- of insensitivity situation in which "lobbying"
for self interest might occur
STRESS - of interview - of interview
TIME - commitment in self - in preparation for - increases departmental
assessment and appraisal interview work load
appraisal interview - in holding appraisal
- in following up on
LACK - of "teeth" in the - no obvious tie up with
scheme Disciplinary Proceedings
TRUST in system in system
Documentation where would it be kept? access?
The Main Advantages of an Appraisal Scheme
Both appraisers and appraisees recognised the possibility of gaining some benefit from the careful
implementation of an appraisal scheme.
The main advantages were seen as:
On the part of:- Appraisee Appraiser Institution
Communication - providing the opportunity - improve communication
for real dialogue with a between colleagues
senior colleague on a one- working in the same
to-one basis away from the area.
pressure of work.
- providing an opportunity to
display strengths, review
progress, be recognised.
- leading to a frank exchange
between people directly
concerned, enabling the
exchange of individual
perceptions of the situation
Increased - of self resulting from - of staff needs - of staff needs
Awareness critical self analysis
Providing an - improved sense of - of assets, sense of - of assets, sense
Overview direction direction of direction
- shaping career path
- possible route to promotion
Highlighting - providing an opportunity - pin-pointing areas of - pin-pointing areas
Problems to ventilate grievances, difficulty of difficulty
thus eliminating frustrations - identifying
anomalies in the
- providing an opportunity to work force
identify difficulties, problems producing
not fully recognised opportunities for
- providing an opportunity to more efficient
mutually explore solutions to staff deployment
problems, express personal
ideas for improving the work base
Aligning Personal and Institutional Objectives
A factor in changing the culture of the University
In addition the following advantages were seen to be common to all.
IDENTIFYING TRAINING NEEDS THEREBY IMPROVING PERFORMANCE
INCREASING EFFICIENCY - through replanning time, improving work practises
IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF THE SERVICES PROVIDED
IMPROVING THE IMAGE
MODELS OF APPRAISAL
Appraisal schemes vary considerably. Developmental approaches to appraisal tend to be based on a
combination of high levels of support and high levels of challenge, Daloz (1986)
“Challenge and support and, in italics, their consequences for development from Daloz, (1986)”
(Cameron-Jones & O’Hara, 1997, p.16)
High RETREAT GROWTH
Low STASIS CONFIRMATION
• When support and challenge are both high there is likely to be growth in learning.
• When support is high, but challenge is low there is likely to be a confirmation of the present state
leading to little movement.
• When support is low, but challenge is high there is likely to be a retreat as the individual feels
• When support and challenge are both low there is likely to be stasis and stagnation leading to
Daloz, L. (1986) Effective Teaching and Mentoring. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Cited in:
Cameron-Jones, Margot and O’Hara, Paul (1997) Support and Challenge in Teacher
Education. British Educational Research Journal, Vol.23, No.1, pp.15-25
The Process of Developmental Appraisal
The developmental approach to appraisal is appraisee centred, the development of individuals is the
most significant immediate purpose of the process, although the longer term organisational
implications are very important. This approach suggests that appraisal will be most effective if
issues which are usually kept private and issues about which the appraisee may have a blind spot are
addressed. Problems which are publicly acknowledged by both parties can be confronted with the
support of the appraiser.
The Johari Window represents one way of conceptualising how individuals are known to self and
others. It is also a way of considering what they are willing or capable of communicating about
themselves in any interchange. The size and content of each pane of the window probably alters in
relationship to different people in an individuals life. What is hidden from colleagues in the private
zone may not be hidden from spouse, though there are things which are probably hidden from
everyone. What is seen by friends in the blind zone may be different from what family members
see in that zone.
OTHERS TO OTHERS
KNOWN TO PUBLIC PRIVATE
SELF ZONE ZONE
UNKNOWN BLIND UNKNOWN
TO SELF ZONE ZONE
The first stage of the our developmental approach to appraisal is exploration. This takes
place in two phases, the first is the covert exploration that the appraisee carries out as
s/he confront his/her appraisal form and reflect on the past year's work. At this point s/he
makes decisions as to what s/he will put into the public zone by placing concerns on the
form. An important factor in the decision to go public on an issue, which could be kept
private, is the extent of the appraisee's trust in the appraiser as an ally.
Developmental appraisal however does not depend on everything being brought into the
public zone to have a positive effect on the performance of the appraisee. Frequently
issues in the private zone such as doubt about how to approach the teaching of a difficult
topic may well be dealt with privately by the appraisee as a result of confronting the issue
but not entering it in the self report form. It is also possible that s/he may seek assistance
from peers and other senior colleagues whom s/he trusts rather more than his/her
The interview provides a second chance for the appraisee to bring material from the
private zone to the public zone. This is the overt phase of the exploration process. An
important part of the role of the appraiser in this stage of the interview is to encourage the
appraisee to bring new material into the public zone. The skills of active listening,
responding and questioning outlined in the notes will facilitate this process but if for
other reasons the appraisee distrusts the appraiser the development of trust may well take
more than a single interview. In such an interview the most important issue to be
explored is the lack of trust. Only when that has been fully explored and worked through
can a meaningful overt appraisal take place.
The second stage of the interview is concerned with reaching a shared understanding so
that an action plan acceptable to both parties can be constructed. The first phase of this
process is helping the appraisee move material from the blind zone into the public zone
and this can be difficult. If an individual considers him/herself to be, for example, an
excellent teacher, when all the evidence suggests that s/he is not, then it is probable that s/
he can only maintain this belief by putting in place a set of defence mechanisms which
shield him/her from the evidence which would disconfirm this view of him/herself. For
the appraiser to be effective s/he needs to be able to challenge the appraisee's perception
of himself as an excellent teacher without causing him/her to raise his/her defences even
higher. We have made some suggestions in the Challenge section of the notes as to how
this might be done. The challenge phase of the appraisal is very much concerned with
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 11
beginning to bring material out of the blind zone. This however is a process which has to
be undertaken carefully and with patience and understanding.
Once material is in the public zone there still may be difficulties. A lack of shared
understand can arise out of acknowledged differences in values or objectives which are
not resolved. It is at this stage that negotiation skills become necessary and there are
notes on this, the second part of reaching a shared understanding.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 12
A THREE PHASE MODEL OF APPRAISAL
The following three phase model of appraisal is advocated.
The initial phase requires appraisee and appraiser to prepare carefully for the appraisal
1. Self-assessment The appraiser or appraisee considers their strengths and what they
are less strong at.
2. Planning Deciding how to approach the interview given profile of self; e.g.
if an individual finds it difficult to deal with conflict how will
he/she plan to confront issues which may lead to conflict.
The second phase is the appraisal interview itself. This interview proceeds through 3
stages, exploration, understanding and finally action planning.
Skills required in the exploration phase
3. Opening Establishing rapport with the appraiser or appraisee.
4. LISTENING Perhaps the foundation skill of communication on which the rest of
the process is built.
5. Responding Effective responding enables the previous speaker to know that he
or she has been heard and to gauge the extent to which he or she
has been understood.
6. Questioning Skilfully asked questions open up the communication process,
some types of questions tend to produce short answers and to shut
Skills required in the understanding phase
7. Challenging Encouraging the individual to be more objective and to act.
8. Negotiation Attempting to reconcile the needs of the individual and the needs
of the department.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 13
Skills required in the action phase
9. Action Planning The Action Plan is the product of the appraisal interview and its
appropriateness will depend on the proficient carrying out of the
appraisal interview as well as the particular skills of action
planning which include being specific and clear.
10. Endings Checking out that the appraisee and the appraiser both have the
same understanding of the outcome of the interview and that all the
issues have been dealt with.
The third phase in the appraisal process is follow up.
11. Support Providing appropriate guidance and support through out the time
12. Advocacy To make the case for the appraisee to have training identified
during the appraisal process
These skills can be used with different emphasis. In a situation where staff development
is a primary objective, then self-assessment is important for the appraisee and listening
with open, reflective questions are crucial skills for the appraiser.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 14
Constructive feedback is intended to benefit the receiver, who must be:
• able to understand it clearly;
• ready and able to accept and own it;
• able to act on it and make changes.
• Be specific, not vague or general;
• Cite clear, recent and relevant examples;
• Give feedback frequently;
• Be concise and don’t ramble;
• Don’t back out of or sweeten the pill.
• Establish & maintain a climate of trust;
• Invite self-assessment first - self-discovery;
• Body, vocal & facial messages (yours & theirs);
• Focus on behaviour/performance, not person;
• Be descriptive not evaluative of personality;
• Sandwich: positive, negative, positive;
• Avoid following positive with “but…”;
• Timing: check the receiver’s readiness;
• Check validity with other sources.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 15
The receiver must be able to take action on it:
• Change must be within the person’s power;
• Circumstances may not allow change;
• Personal traits (body, voice etc.) can’t change;
• Barriers to change may not be removable;
• Portioning: do not overwhelm;
• Feedback only what the receiver can handle.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 16
• Be open: to learning and change;
• If unclear, ask for explanations & examples;
• Summarise briefly to check understanding;
• Check validity with personal assessment;
• Check with other sources if needed;
• Be assertive, not defensive or aggressive.
• Stay calm and even tempered.
• Do not argue; stay seated.
• Look for the cause of the conflict.
• Avoid personality clashes/attacks.
• Choose words carefully.
• Stay open to consideration of mutual needs.
• Avoid dogmatic statements.
• Actively listen
• If necessary take time out and postpone.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 17
When the aims of the appraisee and department are in conflict it may be important to
reconcile these opposing perspectives if possible and to identify and agree on priorities.
Negotiation attempts to do this by moving from separate views to a shared perspective on
issues. For such movement to take place it is necessary to listen to the other's position, to
explain one's own position and to explore areas of difference and similarity. In the
average negotiation up to 50% of the time is spent on such activities while the rest is used
trying to persuade the other side to see things differently. If less than 50% of the time is
spent on explaining and exploring then the interaction may have moved away from
negotiation and towards debate.
A win-win orientation A win-lose orientation
Readiness to consider Resistance to compromise
Looking for common Defending position/ground
Listening for needs and Listening for rebuttal points
A spontaneous back and A structured back and forth
forth exchange exchange
Equal emphasis on questions Emphasis on statements
Effort to convince the facing Effort to convince third parties
party of common interests of greater comparative merits
Strategic use of disclosure Unwillingness to make disclosure
If more than half of the time is being spent following a debate pattern the chances of
getting deadlocked in disagreements are increased. Debate is useful as a tactic to make a
point but it is important that the tactic does not become the purpose of the exchange.
Negotiation is a complex skill and below are listed a number of points which it is worth
considering when entering into the process.
I Attempting to avoid conflict.
1. Make it apparent that the appraiser is seen as a potential ally.
2. Identify the problem to be solved as the source of difficulty, not the appraiser.
3. Be as non-defensive as possible.
4. Recognise the appraiser’s ego-needs.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 18
5. Adopt a friendly tone.
6. Display an open mind.
7. Avoid tricks or pressure tactics.
You may be interested in a book on this subject: Calero, H & Oskam, B (1988) Negotiate
For What You Want Thorsons: Wellingborough.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 19
In relating to others, we can behave in three ways; we can be assertive, aggressive, or
Assertive behaviour involves standing up for our personal rights and expressing our
thoughts, feelings and beliefs in direct, honest, and appropriate ways which do not violate
the rights of others. Assertiveness involves respect--respect for ourselves by expressing
our needs and defending our rights, and respect for the other person’s needs and rights.
We can be assertive and kind at the same time.
When people are aggressive, they stand up for their rights and express their thoughts and
feelings, but do it in a way that can be dishonest, is usually inappropriate, and violates the
personal rights of the other person. The typical goal of aggressive behaviour is
domination and winning, forcing the other person to “lose.”
In non-assertive, or passive, behaviour people violate their own rights by failing to
express their honest feelings, thoughts and beliefs, and permit others to “walk all over”
them. It can also include expressing themselves in such an apologetic and self-degrading
manner that they are disregarded. The goal of non- assertiveness is to please others and
to avoid conflict.
A Comparison of Assertive, Non-Assertive, and Aggressive Behaviour
Assertive Aggressive Passive / Non-Assertive
Expresses wants, ideas, & Does not express wants,
Expresses wants, ideas, &
feelings at the expense of ideas, & feelings, or
Characteristics of the feelings in direct &
others. expresses them in a self-
behaviour: appropriate ways.
Intent = to dominate or depreciating way.
Intent = to communicate.
humiliate. Intent = to please.
Self-righteous, superior; Anxious, disappointed in
Feelings when acting Confident, feel good about
sometimes embarrassed self; often angry and
this way: self at the time and later.
later. resentful later.
Other people’s feelings
about themselves Respected, valued. Humiliated, hurt. Guilty or superior.
when acting this way:
Other people’s feelings
about us when we act Usually respect. Angry, vengeful. Irritation, pity, disgust.
Often get what we want at
the expense of others; Don’t get what we want;
Outcome: Often get what we want.
others feel justified in anger builds up.
Feels good; respected by
others. Improved self- Vents anger; feels
Pay-off: situation; avoids conflict,
confidence; improved superior.
Modified & adapted from:
Alberti, R. E. and Emmons, M. L. (1974) (2nd Ed.) Your Perfect Right: A Guide to Assertive Behavior. San Luis Obispo, CA:
Impact Publishers, Inc. http://gossamer.saf.uwplatt.edu/counsel/esteem/assertvs.htm
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 20
BASIC STRATEGIES FOR BEHAVING MORE ASSERTIVELY
Assertion training can help you express yourself in a manner that neither sells yourself
short not threatens others. Apply assertiveness strategies to learning how to stand up for
your rights, making and refusing requests, giving and receiving compliments and
expressing anger constructively.
Basic Strategies for Behaving More Assertively
1. Identify your personal rights, wants, and needs.
2. Identify how you FEEL about a particular situation, (e.g., “I feel angry”, “I feel
embarrassed”, “I like you”.) In identifying your feelings about the situation, use
sensory descriptions that help to capture how you feel, (e.g., “I feel stepped on”, “I
feel like I’m on cloud nine”.) Report what kind of action the feeling urges you to do,
(e.g., “I feel like hugging you”, “I feel like I am being put on the spot here.”)
3. In describing your feelings, use “I” messages; own your message. Use these “I”
statements to express your feelings instead of evaluating or blaming others, (e.g., “I
feel hurt…” rather than “You hurt me…” or “You are inconsiderate…”.)
4. Connect your feeling statement with some specific behaviour in the other person,
(e.g., “I felt hurt when you left without saying goodbye” rather than “I felt hurt
because you were inconsiderate”.)
5. Be direct -- deliver your message to the person for whom it was intended. Express
your request in one or two easy to understand sentences.
6. Try not to make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling, about
what their motives are, or about how they may react. Check things out with them
7. Avoid sarcasm, character assassination, or absolutes (e.g., using words like, “you
never...”, “you always...”, “you constantly...”, etc.).
8. Avoid labelling.
9. Avoid statements beginning with “Why?” or “You...”. This may put the other person
on the defensive.
10. Ask for feedback: “Am I being clear?”, “How do you see this situation?”. Asking for
feedback helps correct any misperceptions you may have, as well as helping others
realize that you are open to communication, and are expressing an opinion, feeling, or
desire, rather than a demand.
11. Evaluate your expectations. Are they reasonable? Be willing to compromise.
Compiled by Pauline McNeill, 1990. The University Counseling Center is an Agency of the UNC-Chapel Hill Division of Student
Affairs. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 21
The action plans formulated at the end of the appraisal interview will be very individual
and may comprise actions to do with each individual's development, training or career
development and/or to do with developments in the job or the work of the department.
Plans will need action from the appraisee and possibly the appraiser. This is a key
element in an appraisal interview. If the action plan is flawed it is likely the appraisee
will fail to meet his/her goals and this will have negative consequences for motivation in
Action plans may have four stages.
1. Goal setting
Goals should be SMART, that is, they should be:
Specific (not generalisations)
It is important that they are specific enough to drive behaviour and that the time
frame is realistic. They also need to be clear, shared, mutually agreed, flexible
If there is going to be commitment to the action plans, then it is essential that the
appraisee is directly involved in initiating and formulating the goals.
Goals can be of three kinds
1. Maintenance – maintenance goals focus on maintaining an already high
level of performance. There may be strategies which are necessary to
keep performance at this level.
2. Improvement – improvement goals focus on improving performance in
specific areas in ways which are SMART (see above).
3. Development – development goals focus on developing a new area of
competence. This may be done in the context of one’s current position or
it may be about preparing for a promotion or even a sideways move.
2. Identify and assess action strategies.
Choose action strategies which best fit personal and institutional resources. Use
cost benefit analysis. Be aware of the balance between taking risks, and the
probability of success (see Appendix 1).
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3. Formulation of plans.
Once strategies have been identified they need to be assembled into a step by step
process which leads to goal achievement. The help and support of the appraiser
can be very useful at this stage.
Turn strategies into plans.
Shape plans in terms of goals and subgoals,
Determine the sequence of steps and time frame*,
Develop contingency plans,
Reflect upon the challenges of the plan.
4. Implementation of plans.
There is no implication that action plans have to be very different to that which is
already being done. Where an individual's work is going smoothly, it is likely to
be a case of confirming this. Then the objectives may well be to continue last
*It will be useful for the appraiser and the appraisee to touch base at time during
the time between appraisal discussions. The times could be arranged to fit with
the time frames developed in the action plan. If a certain part of the plan is
expected to be completed in three months then an informal agreement to touch
base in 14 or 15 weeks might be of benefit to the appraisee.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 23
Appraisee will summarise:
- the main issues discussed
- the outcomes established
- their goals
- the support/action needed from the appraiser.
The appraiser can facilitate this process.
Action plans agreed.
The comments in Section 2 may be written there or, more likely, later. If it is written
later then time must be allocated for this and possibly for further discussion.
Appraisees should leave the interview feeling it has been a worthwhile exercise which
will help them in their future work.
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 24
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Gordon, G. (1998) Translating Institutional Objectives Into Action. University of Strathclyde.
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Mitchell, D.J.B. & Zaidi, M.A. (Eds.) In The Human Resource Management Handbook,
Part 3. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, pp.79-109.
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Briefing Paper 52. Sheffield: UCoSDA
Hutchings, Ian (1993) Appraisal procedures: A recipe for mediocrity? The New Academic, 2(3),
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to performance management in higher education. In Moses, Ingrid (Ed.) Higher Education
in the Late Twentieth Century: Reflections on a Changing System, pp.91-107. Sydney:
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Appendix 1 - DECISION BALANCE SHEET
If I choose this course of action:
Gains for self: Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Losses for self: Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Gains for significant others: Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Losses for significant others: Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Gains for social setting: Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
Losses for social setting: Acceptable to me because: Not acceptable to me because:
(Egan, 1986, p.313, Table 11-1) (Egan, 1994, p.233, Figure 11-1)
NUI Galway Appraisal Training 26