Having an annual appraisal can lead to a multitude of feelings, both positive and negative, in anyone. Having a conversation with your line manager about ‘you’ can be uncomfortable, and even when you are doing well within your role, an annual appraisal can still leave employees feeling unsettled. Nevertheless, that time spent together by the manager and employee can be hugely valuable… when done right.

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What is an appraisal?

A performance appraisal is a process where an employee sits downs with their line manager and discusses their performance within their role, sets goals for the future, along with any training and development requirements to achieve those goals and to have an opportunity to have that 1-2-1 time to discuss anything you or they need to.

Different types of appraisals can be used, including:

  • General performance – continuous interaction between employees and their line manager
  • 360 Degree – asking colleagues and other managers to give feedback on performance
  • Self-assessment – the employee ranks themselves and then discusses with their line manager
  • Manager appraisal – a manager’s performance appraisal is just as important as their team’s
  • Each type of appraisal has its own place in a business, depending on what is the best fit within your organisation

What is the method for carrying out an appraisal?

The appraisal aims to ensure you have effective two-way communication. For this to happen, it is advisable to let the appraisee have a copy of the appraisal form in advance of the meeting, so they have time to prepare their thoughts and the opportunity to think about their performance in line with their key objectives.

When you have the meeting together, the line manager and employee can have a collective conversation regarding where they both think the employee’s performance is. This is often scored to give an overall performance i.e. ‘consistently meets required performance’.

During the appraisal, you will usually assess someone’s performance over the past 12 months based on objectives or values, provide feedback to the employee about their progress within their role, suggest areas for improvement and any training requirements that might be needed and encourage that honest feedback from the employee.

At the end of the appraisal, both parties should sign and have a copy of the document, so they know and understand the actions required moving forward and as a record of what has been achieved during the past year.

When carrying out the appraisal, it is important to ensure you have allocated the time, so there are no distractions or interruptions. Where possible, it is a good idea to have the meeting in a meeting room or even off-site. This way you can have dedicated time and space without interruptions. This should be quality time between a line manager and their team members. It is also very important that the date and time aren’t moved, or if this is essential, that it is rearranged as soon as possible. This meeting needs to be treated as equally important as any other meeting you may have. Having that time to invest in your people is key to the success of any business. By not recognising the value of the meeting, it can lose impact, and your employee may become disengaged with the process.

How to make the appraisal process a success

To make the appraisal process a success, the management team needs to be invested in the process and committed to ensuring that reviews are carried out thoroughly. Having the process as a ‘tick box’ exercise won’t benefit anyone and is a quick way to demotivate someone.

It is a good idea to keep to the time frames and keep it simple. Overcomplicating the process can cause confusion.

Having appraisals at regular intervals or at least incorporating a review of the elements of what is required on the appraisal in one-to-one meetings keeps the objectives alive and ensures there are no big surprises when the formal appraisal occurs.

Having the right appraisal system

Utilising technology can help to simplify the appraisal process, manage it and ensure consistency.

There are appraisal software systems that can send you reminders to ensure you don’t miss any key appraisal milestones; they have a central place to store the appraisal forms enabling everyone to have access to the documents when they need to and to actually create the document within it, or you can create a system internally to help you.

Whichever option you choose, the main priority is to ensure that you have effective, productive and meaningful appraisals that are delivered with enthusiasm and commitment that help you to support your teams and ensure the success of the company.

If you need any support in creating or implementing an appraisal system, please contact a member of our team at MAD-HR.