How to carry out performance appraisals – notes from a training course

Earlier today I attended a short training course with the object of improving my appraiser skills. These are my notes from the session:

What is the purpose of an Appraisal?

The appraisal is an opportunity to:

· Point our ways in which staff can improve their performance

· Recognise achievements

· Make staff feel valued by praising high performance

· Clarify performance expectations

An appraisal is NOT an opportunity to:

· Conduct a disciplinary meeting

· Tell the staff member about something they did wrong six months’ ago

· Demotivate staff by telling them how awful the future looks

· Have a nice cozy chat while avoiding ‘difficult’ subjects

An appraisal should be a positive experience which reinforces good performance while helping to understand and correct any areas of underperformance.

There should be no nasty surprises. It should be part of an ongoing performance management process which should include regular one to ones and updates.

Positive and negative performance should be discussed when they occur, not saved up for the next appraisal meeting.

The main purpose of Appraisals are:

  • To ensure all employees meet with their line managers to review past performance and discuss future performance and development / training needs
  • To improve the services we provide

What are the benefits of an appraisal?

  • Enable individuals to understand the Council’s objectives & see where their jobs fit in
  • Set new objectives
  • Measure performance against expected standards (including competency standards)
  • Discuss any issues which impact on the employee’s ability to do their job
  • Identify high performers (link to Succession Planning)
  • Identify development needs
  • Encourage continuous improvement
  • Manage under- performance
  • Increase job satisfaction
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses within the organisation

Individuals can improve their overall performance through appraisals, as well as increasing their ability to fulfill the requirements of their role. This can be very motivational and can contribute to job satisfaction.
Appraisals also give individuals the opportunity to focus on future aspirations, through goal setting and identifying learning and development objectives to support these goals.

Managers can gain a better understanding of their staff needs through appraisals. This can help to improve the relationship between a manager and their member of staff.
By carrying out effective appraisals, managers can ensure that they are enabling their staff to perform at their optimum level, achieving objectives and improving the overall service to our customers.

Teams can use appraisals as a way of ensuring that they are all working towards the same goals, contributing to achieving the Council’s overall objectives.
Each team member should feel valued and motivated from the appraisal process, which should then contribute to overall team motivation and success.

There are a variety of benefits for the Organisation as a result of effective appraisals:

  • We can identify our strengths and weaknesses as an organisation
  • We can develop our staff to perform at their optimum levels
  • We can give improve the service we give to our customers

APPRAISALS SHOULD DEMONSTRATE A CLEAR LINK BETWEEN ACHIEVEMENTS AND THE COUNCIL’S OVERALL OBJECTIVE (i.e. service plans, directorate plans, corporate plans, overall strategies etc)

The link to individuals…

Without individuals and their key tasks and outputs, the Council’s aims and objectives cannot be achieved.

Appraisals provide an opportunity for managers and individuals or teams to set objectives which clearly link to the Directorate and Service Plans and the overall Corporate Strategy.

No matter where we are or what role we have within the Council, our jobs and personal effort contribute to the overall service we provide to the council.

Performance Management

It is important for us to manage people and performance effectively across the Council for the following reasons:

  • To ensure we are delivering services effectively to our customers
  • To ensure that we can continuously improve and continue to provide an effective service as a Council

There are a number of tools that assist with Performance Management:

  • 1 to 1 Meetings/Supervisions
  • Team/Department meetings
  • Individual Staff Appraisals
  • 6 Monthly Reviews

These tools act as support to each other, that way, we are able to manage performance effectively and address any issues or concerns on an ongoing basis.

Appraisal Preparation

Before the appraisal meeting, managers and staff have to fully prepare. They must both think about past performance in terms of objectives met and core behavioural competencies demonstrated. They must also consider, with reference to the Directorate and Service plans, what new objectives should be set.
Finally they must consider possible development needs.

Setting Objectives

An objective is a statement of key targets that an individual will agree to meet over a set period of time. They can apply to specific projects or key activities within your job role.

An example of an objective might be: "to reduce the money spent on stationery by 20% by the end of the year’.

Objectives are discussed and agreed with the appraisee during their appraisal, but can be modified and updated at anytime over the year through 1 to 1s and 6 monthly reviews. Any changes to objectives should be formally recorded and attached to the original appraisal form.

Focus on ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’. Focus on the outcomes of objectives, not just the outputs. For examples, an output might be to write a report, but the outcome may be an improvement to a service and customer satisfaction.

Learning and Development

· Training Courses

· Formal Qualifications – sponsored by the council

· On the job training

· E-learning through ilearn

· Mentoring and Coaching

· Group working and Project

Always consider how your staff learn best.

What should be reviewed at an appraisal?

· Previous objectives should be reviewed and praise should be received for any achievements.

· Difficulties and areas where objectives have not been achieved should be analysed

· Objective and competency ratings should be agreed

· New objectives should be set

· Objectivies should be agreed

· The employee should leave feeling sure about what they have to achieve and where this fits in to the bigger picture. If there have been areas of weak performance the manager and employee should have agreed how they will be tackled. The appraisal should have been an honest but motivational discussion.

Preparation Tips

· Keep a log throughout the year of key achievements as well as objectives the individual has met. You can also include examples of behaviors which demonstrate the competencies.

· Consider the ratings you might give

· Ensure you read a copy of all the related appraisal documents before your meeting, making notes on these as necessary

· Taking your own appraisal objectives, or the Directorate/ Service plans as a starting point, think about what you need the individual to achieve over the coming year and what support they will need.

· Look into the different learning and development opportunities within the Council, considering which of these might be helpful for your employee’s development

Giving Feedback

Giving negative feedback needs to be done in a controlled environment. Try and put a positive slant on it. It’s not easy. Try and end with a positive comment!

Constructive Feedback – give them somewhere to go. Provide examples, hints and tips / pointers. Evidence must be given to show you are not being personal. Always direct feedback at behavior, rather than personality. Base it on observation.

· All the receiver to solve their own problems

· Is not about putting them down

· Treat people in the same way as you would expect to be treated

· Be specific – not vague

· Put the individual in the driving seat – start with “how do you think it’s going?” – give them ownership

· Be constructive and always offer support to achieve, improve and develop

· Adopt the Feedback Sandwich Technique, sometimes known as the compliment sandwich is highly recommended. For further details follow this URL:

· Avoid bias


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