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A Brief Guide to Appraisals

EH SolicitorsBlogA Brief Guide to Appraisals



A Brief Guide to Appraisals


A Brief Guide to Appraisals

What is the purpose of an appraisal?

  • To review performance and potential and to set new goals for the forthcoming year
  • To identify areas for improvement
  • To acknowledge positive contributions
  • To identify training and career planning needs
  • To determine whether employees should receive a financial reward for their performance

What to avoid during the appraisal

  • A discriminatory comments or assessment!  Those conducting appraisals should be told not to discriminate on racial grounds and should assess actual performance. 
  • Not making the comments you need to make!  Employees dismissed on grounds of inadequate performance may later make the point that they received little or no indication of alleged unsatisfactory performance whilst in employment.  Therefore, managers should ensure that if there is an issue with an employee’s performance, this should be recorded to reflect that are not meeting objectives/reaching targets etc.  However, appraisals should not be used as a disciplinary mechanism and the appraisal form is not the place to record details of verbal or written disciplinary warnings; these should be recorded separately as part of the disciplinary procedure

 What are the benefits of appraisals? 

  • They help to improve employees’ job performance by identifying strengths and weaknesses and determining how their strengths can be best utilised and weaknesses overcome.
  • They can help to reveal problems which may be restricting employees’ progress and causing inefficient work practices.
  • They can develop a greater degree of consistency by ensuring that managers and employees meet formally and regularly to discuss performance and potential.
  • They can provide information for human resource planning to assist succession planning and to determine the suitability of employees for promotion and training.
  • They can improve communications.
  • Appraisals can also improve the quality of working life by increasing mutual understanding between managers and employees.

Who should carry out the appraisal? 

Immediate managers usually complete the appraisal given that they delegate work to the employee and have an understanding of their objectives, performance, strengths and weaknesses.  However, be mindful that if the employee has a concern which involves their immediate line manager, they may not wish to be open about this.

A way around this would be to complete a paper based appraisal system whereby both the line manager and employee completes the appraisal and this is then reviewed by a senior manager who meets with the employee to discuss the comments.

‘360 degree appraisals’ are often reserved for senior managers.  They involve several employees (a mix of team members, managers working at the same level and more senior managers) completing an assessment of the individual concerned and submitting this, confidentially, so that a report can be provided summarising all the feedback.

How often should appraisals take place?

The formal appraisal should take place annually but many employers make the mistake of treating the appraisal as a tick box exercise.  The appraisal if often completed and then not reviewed again until the next appraisal which defeats the object.  It should be reviewed regularly.  It may be helpful to set objectives with timescales and then put these dates into the diary and schedule review meetings to check on progress and performance.  Also, employers should be mindful to review the entire year and not just the most recent events.

We are working with developers to address this issue and can offer a unique web based platform which makes appraisals three dimensional.  The programme offers a proactive approach to appraisals and development by listing the employee’s objectives and then allowing the employee to record how the objectives are being met and for their line manager to comment on progress and to review targets.  If you would like to know more, please do email [email protected].

The structure of the appraisal

The interviewer should:

  • explain the purpose and scope of the interview
  • discuss the job in terms of its objectives and demands, for example, you may wish to consider the following:
    • Commitment to work
    • Quality of work
    • Knowledge of role
    • Productivity
    • Time management/attendance/punctuality
    • Work ethic and innovation
    • Decision making and problem solving
    • Interpersonal relationships
  • encourage the employee to discuss his or her strengths and weaknesses
  • discuss how far agreed objectives have been met
  • agree future objectives- these should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound
  • discuss any development needs
  • Discuss the employee’s ‘work well-being’- Are they happy?  Do they have the right amount of support?
  • summarise the plans which are agreed

What should the appraisal form contain?

  • basic personal details (i.e. name, department, post, length of time in role)
  • job description
  • detailed review of the individual’s performance against a set of job related criteria
  • an overall performance rating
  • general comments by a more senior manager and by the employee
  • a plan for development and action

Should employees see their appraisal reports? 

Employees should see all of their appraisal reports. Employees should have the opportunity to sign the completed form and to express their views on the appraisal they have received; in particular whether they feel it is a fair assessment of their work over the reporting period.

For further information or to discuss an employment law query, please telephone Ian Hass on 0845 838 1527 or email him at [email protected].





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