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Managing Appraisals: 10 Points for a Perfect Appraisal

31 Oct 2012 by Sarah Leembruggen.
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  1. Understand the job: Begin by ensuring that you and your team members are clear about their individual role and their objectives. This will give the team better context and perspective, and will give you a foundation for setting goals.
  2. Keep on top of things: Are you appraising your people often enough? Perhaps make your appraisals once every six months to be sure that your team are all pulling in the same direction, with monthly or bi-monthly reviews in between. That way you can make small tweaks and adjustments in line with departmental objectives and avoid nasty surprises. Remember: Don’t wait for an appraisal to tackle poor performance.
  3. Listen: Give the appraisee an opportunity to talk and take the time to fully listen to them. Overall, they should be speaking more than you are.
  4. Stay relaxed: You won’t get what you need from someone who is anxious, nervous or tense so find an environment that is conducive to open discussion. Simple rapport techniques will help, so be positive and encourage the appraisee to speak. The meeting should be held somewhere that is relatively private where there are not likely to be interruptions or distractions. Switch off your phone. Don’t check your e-mails. Smile and make eye contact.
  5. Targets, KPIs and Objectives: Make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. The aims of the individual should be linked to departmental or company goals. Most successful businesses have a well-defined company vision that is known and understood by all personnel, so use the appraisal to reinforce these values. Working as a group, towards a common goal is a powerful motivator - be positive about the importance of the role of the individual in helping the team as a whole.  Explain and discuss how and why specific objectives are in place and what you and the team member aim to accomplish. 
  6. Keep it simple: When considering targets, have three or four key things to accomplish rather than over-facing your team with long lists of points.
  7. Be objective: Reflect on the performance of each team member as objectively as possible. Remember that this is time to consider their work over a period of time. Don’t let your judgement be coloured by something niggly that has happened in recent days or weeks. Ideally take notes about things you’d like to raise between appraisals.
  8. Requests for a pay rise, training or promotion: Although an appraisal is the right forum to discuss requests of this sort, you shouldn’t feel under pressure to agree anything on the spot. Ask for reasons and examples to support the request and take the information away for consideration. 
  9. Delivering bad news: It’s never easy, but it has to be done. If you need to be critical or discuss poor performance, be clear and constructive. Make your point and support it with examples. Allow the appraisee time to respond. Turn the negative into a positive with a planned framework for improved performance and assure the individual that this is something you can work through together. At the end of the discussion recap on the salient points so there is no room for misinterpretation.
  10. Appraisal notes: Write them up quickly while everything is fresh in your mind. Ensure that all points are agreed by both parties and ideally signed by all involved. Appraisal notes should be kept confidential. 

Further advice on what to do and what not to do in appraisals for managers can be found at:

Businessballs.com all you need to know about appraisals

Businessknowhow's biggest mistakes with appraisals

TNT's 50 Problems with Performance Appraisals

Salary Survey 2016