A Manager’s Guide to Handling Appraisals Effectively

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An appraisal is not just another mundane meeting to evaluate an employee. Your leadership is broadened through the performance as well as the commitment of each every team member and it’s also for the benefit of the organisation you serve.

The employee appraisal system is therefore crucial for an organisation to function. It gives structure for planning and developing goals for individuals in the company. It also allows room for improvement on their weaknesses and enhances their strengths to contribute professionally. Despite being a daunting and formal process, experiences and studies have shown that implementing an appraisal system does motivate employees to perform better.

One of the most favourable motivations is receiving good merit increment and bonuses based on performance. Another motivation is trusting a just system for career and professional development. This usually leads to enhancing employee loyalty within the organisation.

Appraisals are usually carried out over a specific period of time in order for it to work. It can range from three to six months for probationary staffs to every quarter for confirmed staffs. The way in which it’s carried out, the time frame for evaluation is given by the superior to the subordinate and it’s usually suited to the level of responsibilities carried out. The subordinate then has to either excel or meet satisfactory requirements in various facets ranging from efficiency, quality, and professionalism to name a few.

To make the appraisal process smoother for employees, it’s best to prepare ahead for it. In fact, as a leader, you should always be aware of your team performance from time to time. So you can create a checklist of the points of discussion based on individual performance to add more value to the review. Do give your employees two to three days to prepare before you call them in for their review. Explain the importance of having employee appraisals and how to have a great and healthy take away from it.

On a side note, do allow your staffs to prepare their own feedback form according to their roles. Here’s an example:

On development and responsibilities

  • Present a list of key responsibilities handled
  • Share areas they wish to improve on
  • What do they think they can do better to achieve the management’s expectations
  • Share areas they are struggling with
  • Task wishlist for the coming quarter or year

Asking questions such as the above will assist in the discussion flow during the one-on-one session and as a leader, you can understand more about your subordinate without having to coerce them too much. Having employees share voluntarily makes the appraisal process more ‘human’ and relatable. Remember that less pressure, more communication is key.

Related: From Peer to Leader: 4 Principles for Building Leadership Skills

Next, prompt them to share the content as below. This step will help your employees to reflect on their own achievement or obstacles over the past months.

  • Examples of work which demonstrates their achievements of the objectives such as statistical reports, business ROI reports, overall sales reports, and client feedback
  • Identify achievements, successes, and outcomes attained
  • Identify areas of improvement from the last appraisal. If the employee is new, ask for what they’ve recently done to adjust to the company culture
  • Share barriers or issues which delay or stall performance
  • Share or update about special and exclusive projects or tasks done ‘above and beyond’ the job description and responsibilities


You can also ask them to give their input on the following:


  • Any company culture that is no longer appropriate or needs amending
  • Any issues faced by the team or business that requires new rules or objectives

Now based on what they’ve shared previously, let’s dive deeper into the areas for development.

Here are some topics you can touch on:

  • Revealing and acknowledging strengths you’ve noticed
  • Address areas which they require improvement on
  • What can you do to help them improve
  • Meeting management requirements
  • Disciplinary warnings
  • Sharing future objectives, challenges, and target
  • Interest to have the opportunity to branch out to other areas at work
  • Increment or bonus negotiation based on performance
  • Good merits earned

Related: How to Build a Personal Brand Through Effective Communication?

Thirdly, ask about their overall job satisfaction.

  • What do you love about your current position?
  • What can the organisation do to improve your satisfaction or motivate you to do better?
  • Is there anything I could do: better, less of, more of, or differently in order to enhance or improve our relationship and my leadership?

Whichever tone you use during the appraisal, remember to give your employee a chance to speak and listen to them. It’s important to take note of the answers they share with you during the review as they’ve probably set key highlights they wish for your comment or acknowledgement.

Lastly, to remain fair and objective, try to avoid making these mistakes as a leader based on tips from Berkeley Human Resources:

Halo Effect: proneness to overrate a favoured employee or an employee who previously had a prior good rating

Horns Effect: proneness to judge an employee lower than circumstances warrant

Recency Effect: allowing outstanding work (or unsatisfactory work) instantly take over the judgement causing an offset to an entire year of performance

Cookie Cutter Effect: Rating all your employees or bunch of employees the same. No specifics and general reviews.

Let’s wrap up all of the above into this comprehensive checklist for your upcoming appraisal:

       ? Schedule a meeting with each employee.
       ? Get the employees to prepare their own record of their accomplishments, evaluate their performance as well as objectives for the next quarter.
       ? Set an appropriate tone of voice for the meeting.
       ? Consider gathering external feedbacks of your employees (from other departments, the management team, or even their clients).
       ? Note down some references from last year’s appraisal forms.
       ? Go through the employees’ self-evaluation forms.
       ? Check the development plans that you’ve set since the previous performance review.
       ? Strategize and create a new development plan.
       ? Assess the rating scales to provide a fair and accurate evaluation.





In conclusion, helping your employees prepare for their appraisal will give them the confidence that you have their best interests at heart, want them to improve, and steer them in the right direction for professional development.

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