The Dreaded Appraisal

The Dreaded Appraisal


Evaluating an employee’s performance is a must for any organisation. Feedback can be the difference between staff reaching their full potential and looking for employment elsewhere.

Traditionally, annual appraisals have been the most common way to evaluate performance, but how effective can a 45-minute catch up, once a year, be to managers and staff?

A recent poll of the UK’s workforce, commissioned by HR firm – MHR, has shown that annual appraisals are becoming outdated in the eyes of British employees, with over half of professionals describing the appraisal system at their current job as “pointless” or “time-consuming”.

It’s not only employees that disagree with performance reviews. Many employers also find them stressful, unhelpful and time consuming with hours spent organising meetings and sitting down with staff.

However, the dreaded yearly appraisal could be a thing of the past, as many businesses are moving to more frequent review alternatives, such as quarterly or monthly catch-ups.

Software company Adobe Systems, who used to hold annual reviews for staff, made the decision in 2012 to switch to a “check-in” process where managers meet with staff at least once a quarter and discuss expectations, feedback, growth and development. Since introducing this new review system, Adobe has since seen a 30% decrease in the number of employees quitting and have recovered thousands of hours that managers and employees had been previously spending on their reviews.

Whether you have regular one to one meetings, or decide that a yearly performance review works for you, here are our top five tips for planning and conducting an effective and fair appraisal:

  1. Be honest

An appraisal system, which also allows the employee to self-assess, ensures good, open and two-way dialogue.  However, nobody is perfect and there is always room for development, so a compromise on feedback sometimes needs to be found.

  1. Choose your words carefully

Choose your words carefully – an employee should not find out anything new on an appraisal, the conversation should be an overview of work/conversations that have already taken place, ideally a chance to celebrate great achievements, and set goals going forward. Start your appraisal on a positive which will encourage your employee to relax and move into discussions in a more productive way. If there is an issue which you need to remind the employee about, do so clearly so there is no room for misunderstandings. Finally, ask the employee what their thoughts are on the points discussed. Giving them a say encourages ownership which will make them feel more motivated in the goals or targets set.

  1. Do it face-to-face

For less confident staff members, this may be the only chance where they feel they can provide feedback to the company, so it is important to give employees your time and make them know they are valued by sitting down face-to-face. This will also give you a chance to monitor body language and get a real feel of how your employee feels. Make sure you are in a room free of any interruptions and distractions.

  1. Provide regular, informal feedback

While appraisals are typically scheduled to happen annually, you should offer consistent feedback throughout the year. This will allow employees a chance to develop professionally and should ultimately mean a more positive and proactive employee in the long run.

  1. Ensure your appraisals start from the top and move down through the organisation

A good performance management system will ensure everyone in your organisation is working towards the same goals and KPIs aligned toward strategic direction.  It is therefore important that the Senior Management team have their appraisals first so that agreement is reached on how both they and their team have performed and the direction they need to follow.  The Senior Management team are then able to feedback and set goals appropriate to their teams and ensure continuous employee development.

If you are looking to introduce a performance management/appraisal system, always make sure you hold focus groups to obtain thoughts and feedback from a cross section of your organisation. If an appraisal system is going to work it needs buy-in from your employees first before it is introduced.


For further information on appraisals or advice on how to implement/provide employee feedback please contact or call +44 (0)7702864227.




Debbie McCordall

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