Do you love doing appraisals?

If not, it may be because you find them a little awkward and uncomfortable.  Not knowing what the employee is likely to say can lead you to be nervous of what issues might come up.  You may also be aware that you have to deliver news that the employee won’t be happy with and you will be worried about their reaction.

My first rule of appraisals is to separate them from pay discussions.  It is almost impossible to have a sensible discussion about an employee’s performance and objectives when all they are interested in is the number you present them with at the end of the meeting.  So do them separately, and much as good performance is likely to make pay rises more generous in the future, make it clear that the appraisal is a chance to discuss their work – only.

Then ten things to consider are:


Make sure you are being fair - taking into account their point of view as well as yours.


It is very important to leave them at the end of the meeting more motivated in their job rather than less!


Take care to point out areas where they can improve and how they can do it.  Spend time making sure they really understand what different behaviours you are looking for.

Listening and adapt

Listen, listen, listen - and adapt the appraisal to what they are saying.  There is no point in carrying on a thread when their concerns mean the conversation needs to take a different turn.

Linked to the business

Keep it relevant to the business.  Don’t try to put the rest of their life right – they don’t want to hear it.

Linked to the individual

Keep it relevant to them – don’t work to a unified script for all your staff, they will see straight through it.

Tailored to match styles

Formality or informality, brief or lengthy make it fit with the way you want to interact with them as a person – stay real.


Double check before you open your mouth that what you are saying is useful.  Otherwise leave it out.


Prepare the structure of the conversation in advance.  Make sure you know what you need to get across and what you need to hear from them.  And once that is complete – stop.

Linked to personal drivers

Find out what their personal motivators are and focus on how working well for the business will help them achieve their personal goals as well.

Do all that and your appraisal will be constructive and a great opportunity to develop a positive relationship with your staff.


If you'd like to learn more about managing performance you might be interested in our Managing and Appraising Performance course.