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Appraisals Part 1

Updated: Feb 16

Appraisals give employees and their managers an opportunity to review performance, confirm personal objectives and agree learning and development requirements to help achieve those objectives.

They support – but don’t replace – normal regular dialogue between managers and their employees, regular supervision or good day-to-day management practice.

Process Overview

There’s no legal requirement to carry out appraisals, but they can be a good way to motivate and retain employees and improve the ways in which they carry out their jobs.

Appraisal is a two-way process. Whilst the appraiser may have certain views about the employee’s performance, the employee may see his/her performance in a different light.

It is therefore important that any appraisal scheme focuses on clear objectives so that the thoughts of both the appraiser and appraisee can be directed towards specific outcomes.

The appraisal needs to be a robust and honest assessment of the employee’s performance. It requires proper planning and preparation by both parties in advance of the meeting.

Wherever possible, the appraisal should be carried out by the employee’s immediate line manager, who will have the greatest knowledge of the employee’s performance.

The manager should encourage the individual to identify as many reasons for variances as possible. The manager should also contribute possible causes, ensuring nothing significant is overlooked.

The employee should be referred to the company grievance procedure as a last resort if there are unresolved problems regarding the accuracy or the fairness of the appraisal record or meeting.

Employers should be aware of the legal requirements and good practice relating to equal opportunities. Employees should be treated fairly, consistently and objectively.

Conducting an effective appraisal


The appraisal process aims to ensure that employees:

  • know what is expected of them in terms of the standard of performance and key tasks;

  • know how they should carry out their job;

  • receive recognition for their achievements;

  • receive feedback on their work which aims to improve and develop their performance;

  • identify, together with their manager, their learning and development needs based on agreed competency standards;

  • have a mutually agreed plan for achieving the agreed development in their competencies/performance through appropriate methods to meet their learning and development needs;

  • plan their career development.


Three parties are responsible for developing an employee:

  • The employee – who needs to take responsibility for his/her own career.

  • The line manager – whose role is to guide and support, give feedback and help set development objectives to improve the performance of both the employee and the business.

  • The company – which should provide a system for employee development and a structure which affords opportunities.

An Appraisal Meeting

A lot can change in a year and therefore a quarterly or six-monthly appraisal review cycle is probably best to adopt.

The purpose of the meeting is to review how employees are working towards achieving their objectives, coach them back on track if needed or review and reset objectives if the business has changed direction.

  • The time and date of the meeting should be stated and adhered to.

  • Ensure there are no interruptions during the meeting and switch off phones/switch on answer machine.

  • Sufficient time should be allowed for the meeting. It should not be rushed. The employee should not be denied the opportunity to discuss their role.

  • The employee should receive notification in advance of the meeting, giving adequate time for them to prepare themselves.

  • Ensure the employee is informed that s/he should bring any appropriate evidence to the appraisal meeting to support achievement of competency levels/objectives.

  • Ensure the meeting takes place when scheduled – continually changing is demotivating for an employee.

Paperwork to Support the Appraisal

  • Two copies of the appraisal form.

  • A copy of the self-assessment form sent to the employee at least two weeks prior to the appraisal review meeting so that s/he can prepare.

The employee should be asked to complete and return the form at least one week before the appraisal discussion. One copy should be used for the initial preparation – done in good time before the appraisal – and the employer should use the employee’s self-assessment for assistance.

The second copy of the appraisal form should be used to record the outcome of the appraisal discussion. Both the employee and employer should sign it.

Plan and Prepare

  • Evidence should be gathered of every time the employee does a good job, and a note made in a diary or employee file.

  • A record of ‘thank you’ notes received from customers/colleagues should be kept in the employee’s file so that this evidence is to hand when the appraisal discussion takes place.

  • Evaluation forms from training courses, certificates achieved, project reports, can be a useful prompt for the appraiser during the meeting. Employees should do likewise.

  • The period being reviewed should usually cover the preceding 6 or 12 months. The evaluation should be balanced and recognise the good points as well as the areas where improvement will be required. The focus should be on motivating the employee.

Matters to think about:

  • The work the employee has been involved in and how s/he has responded.

  • Future demands of the business.

  • Possible development needs for the employee.

  • How well the employee meets the relevant competency measures.

Employers should use the agreement on the employee’s strengths and consider what development is needed. If possible, this should be measured against the competencies used within the business, so that there is a clear link between recruitment, performance management and development.

The appraisal discussion

The purpose of the appraisal is to:

  • give and receive feedback;

  • review targets and objectives previously set;

  • review competencies and objectives previously set;

  • review competencies and skills previously identified;

  • look forward and agree targets and objectives for the coming year;

  • identify development and training needs and opportunities;

  • agree a training/development plan;

  • agree a date for the appraisal review meeting.

Employees should be given every opportunity to offer their opinion about their achievements and their performance at work and there should be joint discussion at the meeting. It is important that any performance/conduct concerns which become apparent during the process are dealt with quickly and effectively, utilising the performance management and/or disciplinary procedures.

Next time, we will look at the actual appraisal itself and follow-up actions.

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