Top tips – conducting effective staff appraisals


Staff appraisals are an important activity but they should be used for the right reasons to get the best out of them. They should be used to develop an employee’s skills and therefore performance, and shouldn’t be used as the basis to take disciplinary action for poor performance. Here are seventeen tips to help get the best from the whole process:

1.) Schedule regular appraisals for each employee. Aim for at least once a year, but preferably twice a year.

2. Ask the employee to prepare for the review by completing a self-assessment covering performance, skills, attitude and any problems.

3. Prepare yourself by reviewing the employee’s self-assessment, your notes on the previous appraisal and the employee’s performance since then.

4. If appropriate, obtain feedback on the employee from subordinates, colleagues, superiors and customers (known as 360-degree feedback).

5. Identify your main concerns and what you want the appraisal to achieve; think about potential work and training opportunities for the employee.

6. Start the appraisal meeting by explaining its purpose and agenda; try to put the employee at ease and set a positive tone.

7. Ask the employee to talk you through the self-assessment; listen, and encourage the employee to talk.

8. Make your own comments and ensure that all previously agreed objectives, and any areas which concern you, have been covered.

9. Acknowledge achievements and hard work.

10. Discuss poor performance where necessary, but avoid personal criticisms.

11. Encourage the employee to identify the causes of any problems and to suggest potential solutions.

12. Discuss the employee’s long-term career plans and aspirations.

13. Identify any training needs.

14. Agree SMART Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound key objectives for the next period; ensure that the employee is committed to them.

15. Write up the performance appraisal report and confirm that the employee agrees with what you have said.

16. Continue to monitor performance against objectives.

17. Be prepared to deal with problems when they occur, rather than waiting for the next appraisal meeting.

Important rules


1.) Commit to regular appraisal meetings.

2.) Prepare by reviewing the employee’s performance.

3.) Encourage the employee to contribute, and listen to what is said.

4.) Be positive, and praise good performance.

5.) Focus on solutions and opportunities.

6.) Agree key objectives.


1.) Talk too much or dominate the meeting.

2.) Make personal criticisms – criticise performance instead.

3.) Impose objectives which the employee has not agreed.

4.) Rely on scheduled reviews alone to manage employee performance.


If staff appraisals are carried out correctly and accurately, there can be enormous benefits for both an employee and the business. The employee can gain confidence and self-esteem by being told they are doing a good job, and the business benefits by committing to them by offering training and advancement opportunities.

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