If done correctly, the annual appraisal process can become the most valuable instrument in the manager’s toolbox. As HR business partners, we facilitated performance review trainings to department managers. Regardless the importance, often we got the feedback that when they could, the managers would skip the appraisal interview. Managers and employees often question the value and usefulness of the time and effort taken up by an appraisal and sometimes the meetings end up in disappointment; the employee who received the feedback became defensive, or the manager when asked to explain his or her comments, became flustered. However, this can be overcome if the appraisal meeting is well-constructed, and seen to be fair to the individual and consistent across the organization.

Remember, the performance appraisal meeting is an opportunity to give constructive feedback, recognize achievements, identify training needs and set specific objectives for the coming year. A constant dialogue with the employee is important to build up confidence and trust, not only during the annual appraisal but during the whole year. At least we recommend to have a mid-year review. Make sure that at the end of the year none of the subjects come as a surprise for your employee!

To get off on the right foot you can follow these guidelines in preparing, conducting and following up on employee performance appraisals;

Making your analysis

  • What are my expectations of this employee?
  • Where is the employee’s performance now?
  • Where does the employee’s performance need to be?
  • How do we get to the desired performance level?
  • How has the employee progressed on the previous year’s goals?
  • How can I motivate this employee to want to work towards their goals? What’s in it for them?
  • How can I help them succeed?


  • Give employee advance notice so that he /she can prepare for the discussion
  • Review the position’s responsibilities and standards
  • Identify potential development areas that can be addressed through training and special projects
  • Set aside adequate block of uninterrupted time to permit a full and complete discussion


  • Make sure your focus is on the person and not on distractions
  • Ask employee to review his or her job performance for the past year, the review is a dialogue, therefore carefully listen to the perception of the employee
  • Keep the focus on job performance and related factors, not personality
  • Discuss job requirements, employee strengths, accomplishments, and improvement needs
  • Be prepared to cite observations for each point discussed
  • Reach agreement on appropriate goals, development plans and timetables
  • Summarize what has been discussed and end on a positive note

Following Up

  • Immediately after, record the plans made and points requiring follow-up
  • Provide a copy for the employee
  • Evaluate your own performance. What I did well? Could have done better? Learned about the employee? Learned about myself?