What is an appraisal?

Also known as a performance review or performance evaluation, an appraisal is a formal meeting, typically with a manager, that evaluates an employee’s work performance over a given period, providing constructive feedback, and identifying personal objectives for the future. When used properly, appraisals are an effective way of recognising both high performance and challenges an employee might be having in a role.

Traditionally, appraisals were conducted on annual basis. More recently though it is seen as best practice to provide more frequent opportunities to give and receive feedback. Depending on the type of role and sector, it is not uncommon to see organisations conduct some form of an appraisal every quarter or month.

An appraisal/performance review is not to be confused with manager check-ins and/or one-on-ones, a more informal process that organisations use to support staff and manage workload.

  • How to carry out an employee appraisal
    Depending on how often you conduct performance related meetings, you might find there is a lot to cover. Like many areas of employee engagement, there are different approaches that can be taken to conducting an appraisal.

    Regardless of how you conduct the meeting and the point covered, it is important that you are transparent with employees about the nature of the meeting and what will be discussed, giving plenty of notice. This allows individuals to prepare for the meeting ahead of time, and come to the meeting already prepared.

    Line manager can also gather feedback from colleagues for a more comprehensive conversation; this is called a ‘360 review’, which you can read about below.
  • During the appraisal, the line manager should:
    – Evaluate performance, providing feedback where appropriate.
    – Provide feedback about the employee’s progress
    – Explore potential areas of support and training.

    It is considered best practice to conduct make notes of points that were discussed during an appraisal meeting, and then providing a copy of those details to the employee to refer back to at a later date.
  • To maximise the benefits of appraisals, we recommend organisations…
    Make sure all line managers are aware of the importance of appraisals, and fully understand their role in the process.

    That any individual who conducts an appraisal is suitably trained and prepared.

    Routinely check on previous appraisals conducted, and cross reference appraisals against each other, to check for trends in staff performance across an organisation, in certain roles, over time.
  • 360 Review
    We recommended incorporating elements of 360 degree feedback as a part of development for line managers. 360 degree feedback is a process where employees receive confidential and anonymous feedback from the people who work around them, including line managers, peers and in some instances, clients. In particular, we recommend embedding feedback to line managers from their sub-coordinates, as well as a self-evaluation by the employee themselves.