Embracing the return of company appraisals – key dos and don’ts

According to recent research published by HRNews.co.uk, almost half (47%) of UK employees don’t see a clear path to progression at work. Three quarters (68%) are facing delayed career growth due to a lack of support from their line managers and HR.


Increasingly, the HR community is setting its sights on annual performance reviews to help tackle the problem. Pushed out into the cold in recent years by a preference for more regular, informal conversations, the company appraisal is coming back. As a reminder of how to get the most out of the process, for employees and their organisations, please read an article by SmallBusiness.co.uk or skip to the highlights below.


Be prepared. Refer to a list of agreed objectives and notes on performance from the employee’s previous review and (ideally) any observations made during the intervening year.


Seek feedback from team members, colleagues from other departments and, if appropriate, business partners from outside the organisation. Give all parties time to respond to ensure you receive well-considered, thoughtful feedback.


Create an informal atmosphere which lends itself to open, honest discussion. Start with small talk and generalities to put the employee at ease. For the same reason, praise the employee’s achievements and soft skills early in the conversation.


Work to a clear structure. Allow the employee plenty of time to respond to and question every single point, should they wish to do so. Use open-ended questions to encourage them to be expansive.


Encourage objective analysis of performance. In a spirit of collaboration, talk through why some things went badly and what can be done to avoid the same thing happening again.


Invite self-appraisal to gain an understanding of the employee’s perspective. How do they rate their performance? What value do they feel they provide? Have they got ideas on how to improve their weaknesses? Do their values and career goals match those of their team and the company? An employee’s take on all these aspects will help you to understand their motivations and what it will take to improve their future performance and job satisfaction e.g., training, mentorship, new responsibilities and more team resources. Whether or not a pay rise and promotion are in the offing, there needs to be an outcome.


Agree on measurable objectives and a plan of action. Try to end the review meeting on a positive note so that the employee feels motivated and energised to achieve their new goals. And action your side of the bargain, e.g., setting up training, promptly.


Don’t deliver any surprising criticisms. Feedback on poor performance should be immediate and not be saved for review time. The purpose of the formal review is to reflect briefly on the past and then look ahead.


The article claims that done well, appraisals benefit both employees and their organisations. They help employees progress in their careers and achieve greater job satisfaction. Meanwhile, companies benefit from higher levels of staff engagement, motivation and productivity. It’s a win/win situation.


Do you agree with the article? Or are you in favour of a more holistic approach to managing performance? To explore the topic, please visit the CIPD website.


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