A guide to employee appraisals


Date: 28 March 2022

An HR manager carries out a performance appraisal

An employee appraisal (or performance appraisal) is a scheduled feedback session between an employee and their direct line manager. During an annual appraisal, the employee and line manager will discuss the employee's goals, how well those goals were met, and how the employee can improve their job performance in the year to come.

To ensure your company and your employees get the most out of these sessions it is important to have a plan in place for your appraisal process. In this article we teach you how to complete an employee appraisal and what you can do to make them the most effective.

What are employee appraisals?

Employee appraisals serve multiple purposes to the benefit of your organisation, your employee and the relationship between employee and employer. Appraisals are useful tools to hold employees to account so that they can grow inside your business, ultimately helping your business grow. Appraisals are also key points for employers to discuss career progression, development, and goals with their employees.

In order to prepare for an appraisal and to know what to discuss, you will want to first break down their job description and responsibilities and ascribe some form of success measure to each- a technique called management by objectives (MBO). When your employee joins your company or enters a new position it is important that you make these responsibilities and corresponding goals clear to them.

Especially if you are endorsing a MBO approach, performance review meetings might be a good addition to your employee development plan.

Whilst appraisals can be yearly, bi-annually or quarterly, it is important to give your employees feedback outside of these windows and performance review meetings provide the opportunity for exactly that. These meetings, which are less formal than appraisal meetings, are a good opportunity to check whether the employee is on track to reach the proposed goals and suggest and implement improvements.

How should you conduct employee appraisals?

A performance appraisal process is more than just a pat on the back. Effective performance appraisals involve a degree of 'give and take' between the employee and the employer. It is important that the employee is given the opportunity to provide feedback not solely on their performance but on the company and their manager.

You will want to ask the employee to assess their own performance before providing and explaining a written report of their performance. The pair should then compare and contrast their feedback and discuss where they agree and disagree with the employee's performance in relation to the goals set. Having open and honest conversations like this in your appraisals means that the line manager can identify areas of training and development or can consider setting the employee new goals or assigning them new tasks to enhance their professional development. The performance assessment can recommend a promotion or a pay increase to reward the employee for their professional achievements.

Appraisals are an essential component of performance management, and employers must conduct them fairly and in good faith. Appraisals should focus on making employees aware of their strengths and weaknesses, rather than be an instrument for firing staff. Both employer and employee should walk away from the appraisal feeling positive and motivated.

Why should you complete performance appraisals?

Performance appraisals are critical to your employees' continued success at your company and are therefore crucial for your company's success. Appraisal processes are important to give your employees growth and direction. They provide an opportunity for the employee to feel as though their efforts have been recognised and when accompanied with additional perks or salary increases your employee feels as though they are growing within your company.

In addition, employees with clear goals and career development opportunities are more likely to enjoy their work, reach their performance goals and contribute to the future growth and success of your company. Crucially, no organisation is too small to conduct employee appraisals and in fact the smaller your company the more important appraisals are likely to be.

Copyright 2022. Expert post made possible by Charles Brecque, founder of Legislate, a contract creation and management platform used by small businesses and start ups across the UK.

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