Seven Steps to Great Appraisals

1. Do more listening than talking

Appraisals are about the other person, ie the person you’re appraising, rather than us as the manager. Most people like talking about themselves. Good questioning techniques help ….

2. Ask open questions

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These get the person talking and usually help them answer questions with more than a yes / no. They begin with Who, What, When, Why, Where, How and Who. Eg ‘What’s gone well over the last year/’ /’ What have you enjoyed?’ /’What hasn’t worked?’ /’What are you hoping to achieve during the next year?’

3. Gather evidence throughout the year

Racking your brains two days before an appraisal trying to remember what someone has done during the last year will increase your stress and frustration! Keep a record of what’s gone well and what hasn’t gone well during the year. Include feedback and comments from clients, customers, colleagues and others involved in the business.

4. Make feedback specific rather than general

Man3Provide evidence for your comments, examples of what the person has done or said. Not just what giving your personal opinion. Instead of ‘you’ve worked really hard this year’ give examples of when they’ve worked hard / gone the extra mile, eg ‘You put in a lot of hard work to complete the order for ABC Important Customer’ which helped us secure our new contract with them’. Showing you’ve noticed can help someone feel valued and motivated.

5. No surprises!

Surprises are great for birthday presents but not appraisals. If there are performance issues or areas of concern deal with them as they come up. Don’t leave them in a great pile to talk through during the appraisal. Ideally an appraisal is a rubber stamping of what’s happened during the year, rather than the chance to spring new things onto people.

6. Prepare for the appraisal

Rather than whizzing into the appraisal with no thought about it prepare for them. Go through the questions you’re going to ask, consider your answers and what answers they’re likely to give. Make the conversation matter. It’s a rare chance to have time to sit down with a member of staff and find out how it really is for them.

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7. Make appraisals effective not efficient

Many people see appraisals as a ‘tick the box’ exercise. By doing more talking than listening, asking open questions, gathering evidence throughout the year, giving specific feedback, having no surprises, and preparing for them you’ll be able to make them motivating, worthwhile and enjoyable for both of you.

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