TFN Blog: To See Ourselves as Others See Us

In this months Third Force News problem page, ACOSVO Business Manager Andy Dey shares everything there is to know about staff appraisals


“Our organisation is unsure about staff appraisals and is considering running an appraisal process for the first time, but we don’t know where to start!  What should we be looking at when planning staff appraisals?”


According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 87% of employers use an annual appraisal; 27% do it twice a year; and 10% more than that.  


Appraisals shouldn’t be a daunting task, they should be a two-way conversation between a staff member and their manager, a dedicated space in the diary to talk, celebrate achievements, discuss any pressing issues, set goals and look at development opportunities for the coming year. Training on how to conduct appraisals (as part of supervising / managing people development) is highly recommended.


Staff often worry about negative feedback however if management is operating correctly, and keeping staff informed throughout the year, constructive criticism should only be a small part of an appraisal process. Of course, this doesn’t mean it should be shied away from, and avoiding performance issues ultimately decreases morale, credibility of management, and an organisation’s effectiveness in the long run.     


Appraisals also work best if a process is used which allows both appraiser and appraisee to set down the areas for discussion in advance.


Utilising the guidelines for performance reviews from CIPD detailed below should mean you are well on your way to an effective appraisal process that benefits both the organisation and the whole staff team.


Guidelines for conducting performance appraisals

  1. Design a valid performance review process

  • Job related, based on job description (JD); not biased; performed by people who have knowledge of person/job/training; clearly described in a personnel policy 

  1. Design a standard form for performance appraisals

  • Include employee name, date of review, time interval discussed, performance dimensions (JD, goals, skills) 

  1. Schedule first performance review six months after an employee starts employment

  • Schedule another 6 months later, and then annually 

  1. Initiate the performance review process and upcoming meeting

  •  Tell employee;  remind what’s involved; schedule at least 2 weeks in advance  

  1. Have employee suggest any updates to JD and provide written input to the appraisal

  •  Have employee record their input concurrent to your own on their own sheets; exchange written feedback at review meeting; be familiar with appraisal procedure 

  1. Document your input – reference the JD and performance goals

  •  Have enough contact to be making valid judgements; don’t comment on race, sex, religion, nationality or disability; record major accomplishments, exhibited strengths and weaknesses; suggest actions/training/development to improve performance; use examples of behaviours where you can – avoid hearsay; address behaviours, not characteristics of personalities 

  1. Hold the performance review meeting

  •  State goals of exchanging feedback/action plans; let employee give their input; discuss areas where you disagree; avoid defensiveness – admitting how you feel at present time helps; avoid terms such as “always”, “never” etc; be supportive; end meeting on positive note  

  1. Update and finalise the performance appraisal form

  •  Add any agreed-to commentary, if employee wants to attach written input they should be able to do so; both sign form;  review actions every few months - usually during one-on-one meetings 

  1. Nothing should be surprising to the employee during the appraisal meeting

  • Any performance issues should be addressed as they occur – nothing should be a surprise to employee at appraisal meeting; it is OK to mention issues as long as employee has heard them before.   


Good luck!