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How to Do an Employee Appraisal

How to Do An Employee Appraisal
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The On-Going Process

As a manager, an important part of your job is motivating and encouraging your employees to be productive contributors. Employee appraisals are a powerful tool toward this end. By approaching the appraisal process as an on-going, positive event, you can:

  • Increase communication
  • Establish clear expectations
  • Reinforce good performance
  • Improve unsatisfactory performance
  • Foster a spirit of cooperation and teamwork

Some things you can do to increase the effectiveness of the appraisal process include:

  • Hold periodic, on-going progress reviews with your employees. Don’t limit your interactions to formal appraisals once or twice a year
  • Acknowledge good performance immediately
  • Address problems as soon as they arise. It’s easier to solve them early, before they develop into larger issues
  • Observe and record specific examples of performance whenever they occur. It’s important to provide specific feedback, not vague generalities
  • Keep communications open -- remember to ask your employees about their feelings and perceptions. Actively listen and respond to their input

Appraisal Preparations

This section discusses some things you can do to effectively prepare for the employee appraisal process – before you begin writing, and before holding the person-to-person meeting with the employee.

  • Gather input from various sources

If you’ve been observing and recording specific examples of performance when they occur, you should have a good starting point for preparing the appraisal. However, don’t limit input to your own observations. Solicit input and feedback from colleagues, customers, and other individuals. You might even have the employee prepare a self-review of projects and accomplishments.

Be sure to review prior performance appraisals along with any progress reviews you’ve conducted. Concentrate on the objectives that were set and how well the employee has performed in relation to those goals.

Conducting the Appraisal

Eventually the time will come when you need to sit down with the employee for that all important person-to-person meeting. Give the meeting the preparation and priority it deserves-the same as you would expect for your own personal appraisal with your manager

  • Hold a brief, preliminary meeting

If possible, schedule a brief meeting with the employee to discuss the upcoming review. The main purpose of this meeting is to ensure that you and the employee have some common understanding of the topics you’ll be covering in the appraisal document.

Don’t allow this preliminary meeting to become formal in any way. Stay focused on the topics, don’t discuss your preconceived evaluations, if you have any.

  • Create a positive, communicative atmosphere

Schedule the formal appraisal meeting several days in advance. Allow the employee the opportunity to prepare whatever he or she wants to say. Be sure to allow ample time for the meeting.

Select a meeting place that is both comfortable and quiet. Arrange your schedule so that you won’t be interrupted during the meeting.

  • Be sensitive to employee feelings

Always begin the meeting by providing positive feedback. Point out specific accomplishments, noting how they have contributed to the group’s efforts.

Emphasise problem solving and concentrate on future actions that can be taken in any areas that need improvement.

Avoid discussing motivation and personal issues. Concentrate on the employee’s behaviour and the consequences of that behaviour to the individual and the organization. This is a good opportunity to stress the requirements of the job.

Always allow the employee the opportunity to discuss his or her feelings and reactions to your input and feedback.

  • Make the appraisal a two-way affair

Listen to the employee. Encourage reactions and suggestions – allow him or her to say what they need to say.

If there are areas that need improvement, encourage the employee to come up with potential solutions.

If the employee disagrees with you, allow him or her to state their feelings. Listen without arguing or defending your point of view. Be prepared to adjust your viewpoints, if necessary.

  • Arrive at a mutual agreement

If the employee has a satisfactory or better rating, set objectives for the next period. You can either discuss the objectives in the appraisal meeting or schedule a follow-up meeting.

If the employee has unsatisfactory performance, work together to create a development plan. Follow whatever guidelines your organization might have for performance improvement plans. In general, such plans:

  • Contain very specific actions and behaviours that the employee is expected to demonstrate
  • Are limited in focus, concentrating on one or two major areas for improvement
  • Have specific checkpoint dates

If the problems are severe, or improvement has not been demonstrated in the past, the development plan might also contain a written warning about the consequences to the employee of not meeting the goals in the plan.

Setting Objectives

  • Understand the need for objectives

Setting objectives with employees – establishes clear expectations. Effective objective setting can help foster a spirit of greater cooperation as well as contribute to higher productivity and morale.

  • Understand what effective objectives are

An employee’s objectives should relate directly to the key areas of responsibilities for their job description. The key areas identify the most important skills and behaviours necessary for success. Effective objectives are:

  • Observable and measurable
  • Specific
  • Related to the most important job requirements
  • Under the employee’s control
  • Achievable given time and resources
  • Limited in number

When writing specific objectives, always include the following components:

  • A specific action
  • A measurable result
  • A time frame for completion

Writing employee appraisals is a task that some managers find tedious and sometimes daunting. Operating under the stress of tight deadlines and the need to always stay objective can be a problem. However, from the employee’s perspective ~ the appraisal document and meeting can be the most important factors in their career development. It deserves your time and attention.

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