performance appraisals process
Prepare - prepare all materials, notes agreed tasks and records of performance, achievements, incidents, reports etc - anything pertaining to performance and achievement - obviously include the previous performance appraisal documents and a current job description. A good appraisal form will provide a good natural order for proceedings, so use one. If your organization doesn't have a standard appraisal form then locate one, or use the template below to create one, or download and/or adapt the appraisal forms from this page. Whatever you use, ensure you have the necessary approval from your organization, and understand how it works. Organize your paperwork to reflect the order of the appraisal and write down the sequence of items to be covered. If the appraisal form includes a self assessment section and/or feedback section (good ones do) ensure this is passed to the appraisee suitably in advance of the appraisal with relevant guidance for completion. A sample performance appraisal template is available free below, which you can adapt and use to create your own form. Part of your preparation should also consider 'whole-person' development - beyond and outside of the job skill-set - as might inspire and appeal to the appraisees. Many people are not particularly interested in job skills training, but will be very interested, stimulated and motivated by other learning and development experiences. Get to know what your people are good at outside of their work. People's natural talents and passions often contain significant overlaps with the attributes, behaviours and maturity that are required and valued in the workplace. Use your imagination in identifying these opportunities to encourage 'whole-person' development and you will find appraisals can become very positive and enjoyable activities. Appraisals are not just about job performance and job skills training. Appraisals should focus on helping the 'whole person' to grow and attain fulfilment.
Inform - inform the appraisee - ensure the appraisee is informed of a suitable time and place (change it if necessary), and clarify purpose and type of appraisal - give the appraisee the chance to assemble data and relevant performance and achievement records and materials. If the appraisal form does not imply a natural order for the discussion then provide an agenda of items to be covered.
Venue - ensure a suitable venue is planned and available - private and free from interruptions - observe the same rules as with recruitment interviewing - avoid hotel lobbies, public lounges, canteens - privacy is absolutely essential (it follows also that planes, trains and automobiles are entirely unsuitable venues for performance appraisals......)
Layout - room layout and and seating are important elements to prepare also - don't simply accept whatever layout happens to exist in a borrowed or hired room - layout has a huge influence on atmosphere and mood - irrespective of content, the atmosphere and mood must be relaxed and informal - remove barriers - don't sit in the boss's chair with the other person positioned humbly on the other side of the desk; you must create a relaxed situation, preferably at a meeting table or in easy chairs - sit at an angle to each other, 90 degrees ideally - avoid face to face, it's confrontational.
Introduction - relax the appraisee - open with a positive statement, smile, be warm and friendly - the appraisee may well be terrified; it's your responsibility to create a calm and non-threatening atmosphere. Set the scene - simply explain what will happen - encourage a discussion and as much input as possible from the appraisee - tell them it's their meeting not yours. Confirm the timings, especially finishing time. If helpful and appropriate begin with some general discussion about how things have been going, but avoid getting into specifics, which are covered next (and you can say so). Ask if there are any additional points to cover and note them down so as to include them when appropriate.
Review and measure - review the activities, tasks, objectives and achievements one by one, keeping to distinct separate items one by one - avoid going off on tangents or vague unspecific views. If you've done your preparation correctly you will have an order to follow. If something off-subject comes up then note it down and say you'll return to it later (and ensure you do). Concentrate on hard facts and figures, solid evidence - avoid conjecture, anecdotal or non-specific opinions, especially about the appraisee. Being objective is one of the greatest challenges for the appraiser - as with interviewing, resist judging the appraisee in your own image, according to your own style and approach - facts and figures are the acid test and provide a good neutral basis for the discussion, free of bias and personal views. For each item agree a measure of competence or achievement as relevant, and according to whatever measure or scoring system is built into the appraisal system. This might be simply a yes or no, or it might be a percentage or a mark out of ten, or an A, B, C. Reliable review and measurement requires reliable data - if you don't have the reliable data you can't review and you might as well re-arrange the appraisal meeting. If a point of dispute arises, you must get the facts straightened out before making an important decision or judgement, and if necessary defer to a later date.
Agree an action plan - An overall plan should be agreed with the appraisee, which should take account of the job responsibilities, the appraisee's career aspirations, the departmental and whole organization's priorities, and the reviewed strengths and weaknesses. The plan can be staged if necessary with short, medium and long term aspects, but importantly it must be agreed and realistic.
Agree specific objectives - These are the specific actions and targets that together form the action plan. As with any delegated task or agreed objective these must adhere to the SMARTER rules - specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-bound, enjoyable, recorded. If not, don't bother. The objectives can be anything that will benefit the individual, and that the person is happy to commit to. When helping people to develop, you are not restricted to job-related objectives, although typically most objectives will be.
Agree necessary support - This is the support required for the appraisee to achieve the objectives, and can include training of various sorts (external courses and seminars, internal courses, coaching, mentoring, secondment, shadowing, distance-learning, reading, watching videos, attending meetings and workshops, workbooks, manuals and guides; anything relevant and helpful that will help the person develop towards the standard and agreed task. Also consider training and development that relates to 'whole-person development' outside of job skills. This might be a hobby or a talent that the person wants to develop. Developing the whole person in this way will bring benefits to their role, and will increase motivation and loyalty. The best employers understand the value of helping the whole person to develop. Be careful to avoid committing to training expenditure before suitable approval, permission or availability has been confirmed - if necessary discuss likely training requirements with the relevant authority before the appraisal to check. Raising false hopes is not helpful to the process.
Invite any other points or questions - make sure you capture any other concerns.
Close positively - Thank the appraisee for their contribution to the meeting and their effort through the year, and commit to helping in any way you can.
Record main points, agreed actions and follow-up - Swiftly follow-up the meeting with all necessary copies and confirmations, and ensure documents are filed and copied to relevant departments, (HR, and your own line manager typically).