Performance appraisals are essential for the effective management and evaluation of staff. Appraisals help develop individuals, improve organizational performance, and feed into business planning
Table of contents
1.1. Performance appraisals, performance evaluation and assessment of job skills, personality and behaviour - '360 degree feedback', '360° appraisals', 'skill-set' assessment and training needs analysis
1.1.1. Introduction to resources
1.2.3. Template guide
1.3.2. 360-degree design
1.3.3. 360-degree feedback form
1.4. Appraisals timing
1.4.1. Other planning guidelines
1.4.2. Pay reviews and awards
1.5. Probationary review
Performance Appraisals: tips, templates and tools 
Performance appraisals, performance evaluation and assessment of job skills, personality and behaviour - '360 degree feedback', '360° appraisals', 'skill-set' assessment and training needs analysis
Ensure your systems, training and materials for appraisals reflect current employment/equality laws. For example it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of age. This has several implications for performance appraisals, documents used, and the training of people who conduct staff appraisals. For example, while not unlawful, the inclusion of age and date-of-birth sections on appraisal forms is not recommended (as for all other documentation used in assessing people). For further guidance about the effects of Age/Equality/Discrimination on performance appraisals, and other aspects of equality, see the Equality information.
Here is a basic performance appraisal form template, in PDF and MSWord formats. Feel free to use and adapt it to suit your purposes.
Performance appraisal form (pdf) sample/template - downloadable pdf
Performance appraisal form (MSWord) sample/template - downloadable MSWord file
Performance appraisals are essential for the effective management and evaluation of staff. Appraisals help develop individuals, improve organizational performance, and feed into business planning. Formal performance appraisals are generally conducted annually for all staff in the organization. Each staff member is appraised by their line manager. Directors are appraised by the CEO, who is appraised by the chairman or company owners, depending on the size and structure of the organization.
Annual performance appraisals enable management and monitoring of standards, agreeing expectations and objectives, and delegation of responsibilities and tasks. Staff performance appraisals also establish individual training needs and enable organizational training needs analysis and planning.
Performance appraisals also typically feed into organizational annual pay and grading reviews, which commonly also coincides with the business planning for the next trading year.
Performance appraisals generally review each individual's performance against objectives and standards for the trading year, agreed at the previous appraisal meeting.
Performance appraisals are also essential for career and succession planning - for individuals, crucial jobs, and for the organization as a whole.
Performance appraisals are important for staff motivation, attitude and behaviour development, communicating and aligning individual and organizational aims, and fostering positive relationships between management and staff.
Performance appraisals provide a formal, recorded, regular review of an individual's performance, and a plan for future development.
Job performance appraisals - in whatever form they take - are therefore vital for managing the performance of people and organizations.
Managers and appraisees commonly dislike appraisals and try to avoid them. To these people the appraisal is daunting and time-consuming. The process is seen as a difficult administrative chore and emotionally challenging. The annual appraisal is maybe the only time since last year that the two people have sat down together for a meaningful one-to-one discussion. No wonder then that appraisals are stressful - which then defeats the whole purpose.
There lies the main problem - and the remedy.
Appraisals are much easier, and especially more relaxed, if the boss meets each of the team members individually and regularly for one-to-one discussion throughout the year.
Meaningful regular discussion about work, career, aims, progress, development, hopes and dreams, life, the universe, the TV, common interests, etc., whatever, makes appraisals so much easier because people then know and trust each other - which reduces all the stress and the uncertainty.
Put off discussions and of course they loom very large.
So don't wait for the annual appraisal to sit down and talk.
The boss or or the appraisee can instigate this.
If you are an employee with a shy boss, then take the lead.
If you are a boss who rarely sits down and talks with people - or whose people are not used to talking with their boss - then set about relaxing the atmosphere and improving relationships. Appraisals (and work) all tend to be easier when people communicate well and know each other.
So sit down together and talk as often as you can, and then when the actual formal appraisals are due everyone will find the whole process to be far more natural, quick, and easy - and a lot more productive too.
There is increasingly a need for performance appraisals of staff and especially managers, directors and CEO's, to include accountabilities relating to corporate responsibility, represented by various converging corporate responsibility conceptsincluding: the 'Triple Bottom Line' ('profit people planet'); corporate social responsibility (CSR); Sustainability; corporate integrity and ethics; Fair Trade, etc. The organisation must decide the extent to which these accountabilities are reflected in job responsibilities, which would then naturally feature accordingly in performance appraisals. More about this aspect of responsibility is in the directors job descriptions section.
Significantly also, while this appraisal outline is necessarily a formal structure this does not mean that the development discussed with the appraisee must be formal and constrained. In fact the opposite applies. Appraisals must address 'whole person' development - not just job skills or the skills required for the next promotion.
Appraisals must not discriminate against anyone on the grounds of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, etc.
The UK Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, (consistent with Europe), effective from 1st October 2006, make it particularly important to avoid any comments, judgements, suggestions, questions or decisions which might be perceived by the appraisee to be based on age. This means people who are young as well as old. Age, along with other characteristics stated above, is not a lawful basis for assessing and managing people, unless proper 'objective justification' can be proven. See the Age Diversity information.
When designing or planning and conducting appraisals, seek to help the 'whole-person' to grow in whatever direction they want, not just to identify obviously relevant work skills training. Increasingly, the best employers recognise that growing the 'whole person' promotes positive attitudes, advancement, motivation, and also develops lots of new skills that can be surprisingly relevant to working productively and effectively in any sort of organisation.
Developing the whole-person is also an important aspect of modern corporate responsibility, and separately (if you needed a purely business-driven incentive for adopting these principles), whole-person development is a crucial advantage in the employment market, in which all employers compete to attract the best recruits, and to retain the best staff.
Therefore in appraisals, be creative and imaginative in discussing, discovering and agreeing 'whole-person' development that people will respond to, beyond the usual job skill-set, and incorporate this sort of development into the appraisal process. Abraham Maslow recognised this over fifty years ago.
If you are an employee and your employer has yet to embrace or even acknowledge these concepts, do them a favour at your own appraisal and suggest they look at these ideas, or maybe mention it at your exit interview prior to joining a better employer who cares about the people, not just the work.
Incidentally the Multiple Intelligences test and VAK Learning Styles test are extremely useful tools for appraisals, before or after, to help people understand their natural potential and strengths and to help managers understand this about their people too. There are a lot of people out there who are in jobs which don't allow them to use and develop their greatest strengths; so the more we can help folk understand their own special potential, and find roles that really fit well, the happier we shall all be.
It is sometimes fashionable in the 'modern age' to dismiss traditional processes such as performance appraisals as being irrelevant or unhelpful. Be very wary however if considering removing appraisals from your own organisational practices. It is likely that the critics of the appraisal process are the people who can't conduct them very well. It's a common human response to want to jettison something that one finds difficult. Appraisals - in whatever form, and there are various - have been a mainstay of management for decades, for good reasons.
Think about everything that performance appraisals can achieve and contribute to when they are properly managed, for example:
- performance measurement - transparent, short, medium and long term
- clarifying, defining, redefining priorities and objectives
- motivation through agreeing helpful aims and targets
- motivation though achievement and feedback
- training needs and learning desires - assessment and agreement
- identification of personal strengths and direction - including unused hidden strengths
- career and succession planning - personal and organisational
- team roles clarification and team building
- organisational training needs assessment and analysis
- appraisee and manager mutual awareness, understanding and relationship
- resolving confusions and misunderstandings
- reinforcing and cascading organisational philosophies, values, aims, strategies, priorities, etc
- delegation, additional responsibilities, employee growth and development
- counselling and feedback
- manager development - all good managers should be able to conduct appraisals well - it's a fundamental process
- the list goes on..
People have less and less face-to-face time together these days. Performance appraisals offer a way to protect and manage these valuable face-to-face opportunities. My advice is to hold on to and nurture these situations, and if you are under pressure to replace performance appraisals with some sort of (apparently) more efficient and cost effective methods, be very sure that you can safely cover all the aspects of performance and attitudinal development that a well-run performance appraisals system is naturally designed to achieve.
There are various ways of conducting performance appraisals, and ideas change over time as to what are the most effective appraisals methods and systems. Some people advocate traditional appraisals and forms; others prefer 360-degree-type appraisals; others suggest using little more than a blank sheet of paper.
In fact performance appraisals of all types are effective if they are conducted properly, and better still if the appraisal process is clearly explained to, agreed by, the people involved.
Managers need guidance, training and encouragement in how to conduct appraisals properly. Especially the detractors and the critics. Help anxious managers (and directors) develop and adapt appraisals methods that work for them. Be flexible. There are lots of ways to conduct appraisals, and particularly lots of ways to diffuse apprehension and fear - for managers and appraisees alike. Particularly - encourage people to sit down together and review informally and often - this removes much of the pressure for managers and appraisees at formal appraisals times. Leaving everything to a single make-or-break discussion once a year is asking for trouble and trepidation.
Look out especially for the warning signs of 'negative cascaded attitudes' towards appraisals. This is most often found where a senior manager or director hates conducting appraisals, usually because they are uncomfortable and inexperienced in conducting them. The senior manager/director typically will be heard to say that appraisals don't work and are a waste of time, which for them becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This attitude and behaviour then cascades down to their appraisees (all the people in their team) who then not surprisingly also apply the same 'no good - not doing it' negative attitude to their own appraisals responsibilities (teams). And so it goes. A 'no good - not doing it' attitude in the middle ranks is almost invariably traceable back to a senior manager or director who holds the same view. As with anything, where people need help doing the right thing, help them.
All that said, performance appraisals that are administered without training (for those who need it), without explanation or consultation, and conducted poorly will be counter-productive and are a waste of everyone's time.
Well-prepared and well-conducted performance appraisals provide unique opportunities to help appraisees and managers improve and develop, and thereby also the organisations for whom they work.
Just like any other process, if performance appraisals aren't working, don't blame the process, ask yourself whether it is being properly trained, explained, agreed and conducted.
Aside from formal traditional (annual, six-monthly, quarterly, or monthly) performance appraisals, there are many different methods of performance evaluation. The use of any of these methods depends on the purpose of the evaluation, the individual, the assessor, and the environment.
The formal annual performance appraisal is generally the over-riding instrument which gathers together and reviews all other performance data for the previous year.
Performance appraisals should be positive experiences. The appraisals process provides the platform for development and motivation, so organizations should foster a feeling that performance appraisals are positive opportunities, in order to get the best out of the people and the process. In certain organizations, performance appraisals are widely regarded as something rather less welcoming ('bollocking sessions' is not an unusual description), which provides a basis only on which to develop fear and resentment, so never, never, never use a staff performance appraisal to handle matters of discipline or admonishment, which should instead be handled via separately arranged meetings.
- Formal annual performance appraisals
- Probationary reviews
- Informal one-to-one review discussions
- Counselling meetings
- Observation on the job
- Skill- or job-related tests
- Assignment or task followed by review, including secondments (temporary job cover or transfer)
- Assessment centres, including observed group exercises, tests presentations, etc.
- Survey of opinion of others who have dealings with the individual
- Psychometric tests and other behavioural assessments
- Graphology (handwriting analysis)
None of these methods is mutually exclusive. All of these performance assessment methods can be used in conjunction with others in the list, depending on situation and organizational policy. Where any of these processes is used, the manager must keep a written record, and must ensure agreed actions are followed up. The notes of all review situations can then be referred to at the formal appraisal.
Holding regular informal one-to-one review meetings greatly reduces the pressure and time required for the annual formal appraisal meeting. Holding informal reviews every month is ideal all staff. There are several benefits of reviewing frequently and informally:
- The manager is better informed and more up-to-date with his or her people's activities (and more in touch with what lies beyond, e.g., customers, suppliers, competitors, markets, etc)
- Difficult issues can be identified, discussed and resolved quickly, before they become more serious.
- Help can be given more readily - people rarely ask unless they see a good opportunity to do so - the regular informal review provides just this.
- Assignments, tasks and objectives can be agreed completed and reviewed quickly - leaving actions more than a few weeks reduces completion rates significantly for all but the most senior and experienced people.
- Objectives, direction, and purpose is more up-to-date - modern organizations demand more flexibility than a single annual review allows - priorities often change through the year, so people need to be re-directed and re-focused.
- Training and development actions can be broken down into smaller more digestible chunks, increasing success rates and motivational effect as a result.
- The 'fear factor', often associated by many with formal appraisals, is greatly reduced because people become more comfortable with the review process.
- Relationships and mutual understanding develops more quickly with greater frequency of meetings between manager and staff member.
- Staff members can be better prepared for the formal appraisal, giving better results, and saving management time.
- Much of the review has already been covered throughout the year by the time comes for the formal appraisal.
- Frequent review meetings increase the reliability of notes and performance data, and reduces the chances of overlooking things at the formal appraisal.
- Prepare - prepare all materials, notes agreed tasks and records of performance, achievements, incidents, reports etc - anything pertaining to performance and achievement - obviously include the previous performance appraisal documents and a current job description. A good appraisal form will provide a good natural order for proceedings, so use one. If your organization doesn't have a standard appraisal form then locate one, or use the template below to create one, or download and/or adapt the appraisal forms from this page. Whatever you use, ensure you have the necessary approval from your organization, and understand how it works. Organize your paperwork to reflect the order of the appraisal and write down the sequence of items to be covered. If the appraisal form includes a self assessment section and/or feedback section (good ones do) ensure this is passed to the appraisee suitably in advance of the appraisal with relevant guidance for completion. A sample performance appraisal template is available free below, which you can adapt and use to create your own form. Part of your preparation should also consider 'whole-person' development - beyond and outside of the job skill-set - as might inspire and appeal to the appraisees. Many people are not particularly interested in job skills training, but will be very interested, stimulated and motivated by other learning and development experiences. Get to know what your people are good at outside of their work. People's natural talents and passions often contain significant overlaps with the attributes, behaviours and maturity that are required and valued in the workplace. Use your imagination in identifying these opportunities to encourage 'whole-person' development and you will find appraisals can become very positive and enjoyable activities. Appraisals are not just about job performance and job skills training. Appraisals should focus on helping the 'whole person' to grow and attain fulfilment.
- Inform - inform the appraisee - ensure the appraisee is informed of a suitable time and place (change it if necessary), and clarify purpose and type of appraisal - give the appraisee the chance to assemble data and relevant performance and achievement records and materials. If the appraisal form does not imply a natural order for the discussion then provide an agenda of items to be covered.
- Venue - ensure a suitable venue is planned and available - private and free from interruptions - observe the same rules as with recruitment interviewing - avoid hotel lobbies, public lounges, canteens - privacy is absolutely essential (it follows also that planes, trains and automobiles are entirely unsuitable venues for performance appraisals......)
- Layout - room layout and and seating are important elements to prepare also - don't simply accept whatever layout happens to exist in a borrowed or hired room - layout has a huge influence on atmosphere and mood - irrespective of content, the atmosphere and mood must be relaxed and informal - remove barriers - don't sit in the boss's chair with the other person positioned humbly on the other side of the desk; you must create a relaxed situation, preferably at a meeting table or in easy chairs - sit at an angle to each other, 90 degrees ideally - avoid face to face, it's confrontational.
- Introduction - relax the appraisee - open with a positive statement, smile, be warm and friendly - the appraisee may well be terrified; it's your responsibility to create a calm and non-threatening atmosphere. Set the scene - simply explain what will happen - encourage a discussion and as much input as possible from the appraisee - tell them it's their meeting not yours. Confirm the timings, especially finishing time. If helpful and appropriate begin with some general discussion about how things have been going, but avoid getting into specifics, which are covered next (and you can say so). Ask if there are any additional points to cover and note them down so as to include them when appropriate.
- Review and measure - review the activities, tasks, objectives and achievements one by one, keeping to distinct separate items one by one - avoid going off on tangents or vague unspecific views. If you've done your preparation correctly you will have an order to follow. If something off-subject comes up then note it down and say you'll return to it later (and ensure you do). Concentrate on hard facts and figures, solid evidence - avoid conjecture, anecdotal or non-specific opinions, especially about the appraisee. Being objective is one of the greatest challenges for the appraiser - as with interviewing, resist judging the appraisee in your own image, according to your own style and approach - facts and figures are the acid test and provide a good neutral basis for the discussion, free of bias and personal views. For each item agree a measure of competence or achievement as relevant, and according to whatever measure or scoring system is built into the appraisal system. This might be simply a yes or no, or it might be a percentage or a mark out of ten, or an A, B, C. Reliable review and measurement requires reliable data - if you don't have the reliable data you can't review and you might as well re-arrange the appraisal meeting. If a point of dispute arises, you must get the facts straightened out before making an important decision or judgement, and if necessary defer to a later date.
- Agree an action plan - An overall plan should be agreed with the appraisee, which should take account of the job responsibilities, the appraisee's career aspirations, the departmental and whole organization's priorities, and the reviewed strengths and weaknesses. The plan can be staged if necessary with short, medium and long term aspects, but importantly it must be agreed and realistic.
- Agree specific objectives - These are the specific actions and targets that together form the action plan. As with any delegated task or agreed objective these must adhere to the SMARTER rules - specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-bound, enjoyable, recorded. If not, don't bother. The objectives can be anything that will benefit the individual, and that the person is happy to commit to. When helping people to develop, you are not restricted to job-related objectives, although typically most objectives will be.
- Agree necessary support - This is the support required for the appraisee to achieve the objectives, and can include training of various sorts (external courses and seminars, internal courses, coaching, mentoring, secondment, shadowing, distance-learning, reading, watching videos, attending meetings and workshops, workbooks, manuals and guides; anything relevant and helpful that will help the person develop towards the standard and agreed task. Also consider training and development that relates to 'whole-person development' outside of job skills. This might be a hobby or a talent that the person wants to develop. Developing the whole person in this way will bring benefits to their role, and will increase motivation and loyalty. The best employers understand the value of helping the whole person to develop. Be careful to avoid committing to training expenditure before suitable approval, permission or availability has been confirmed - if necessary discuss likely training requirements with the relevant authority before the appraisal to check. Raising false hopes is not helpful to the process.
- Invite any other points or questions - make sure you capture any other concerns.
- Close positively - Thank the appraisee for their contribution to the meeting and their effort through the year, and commit to helping in any way you can.
- Record main points, agreed actions and follow-up - Swiftly follow-up the meeting with all necessary copies and confirmations, and ensure documents are filed and copied to relevant departments, (HR, and your own line manager typically).
This performance appraisal template and process guide has been created to support the downloadable appraisal forms available from this page, but the process and the forms can be adapted to suit your own situation.
Here is a free performance appraisal form in pdf format, and here is the same performance appraisal form in MSWord format. Both versions of the appraisal form were revised August 2006. These free forms are based on the template and process below, which also act as instructions and guidelines for the form.
The structure is formal but the process and content does not have to be constrained by work and job issues. Always be looking for opportunities to help the person develop beyond their formal work responsibilities. Not everyone is interested in promotion, and lots of people find job-skills training less than riveting, but nearly everyone has something in them that they want to pursue and develop. When appraising someone if you can tap into these desires and help the other person to achieve their own personal aims, then everyone wins. If the connection with work don't seem obvious at first, the benefits from personal growth generally produce dramatic and positive benefits for employers and work performance.
Obviously a certain amount of work-related training is necessary for good work performance and advancement, but the biggest advantages accrue to the employing organisation when people grow as people, outside of their job skills sets. In fact most of the really important attributes for work are distinctly outside of the typical job skills: factors relating to emotional maturity, self-esteem, relationships, self-awareness, understanding others, commitment, enthusiasm, resoluteness, etc., are typically developed far more effectively in people when they follow their own paths and fulfil their own natural desires, rather than on endless (and for many people somewhat meaningless) job-skills courses.
So be imaginative and creative. Use the template and process as a structure for the appraisal process, but don't constrain the areas of personal development to those only related to the job and work standards and organisational objectives. Be led by the people about what they love and enjoy, and what they want to develop and experience in their lives. And then look for ways to help them achieve these things. This is the true way to develop people.
Performance appraisal form template/sample
Remember this is just a structure for the process - the content and the direction of personal development is as flexible as your organisation allows, or can be persuaded to allow. Use your imagination to develop people in the way they want to go, not just the way the organisation thinks it needs people to be.
A free sample appraisal document in this format is available from this site in MSWord or pdf (acrobat) versions:
Performance appraisal form (pdf) sample/template - downloadable pdf (revised August 2006)
Performance appraisal form (MSWord) sample/template - downloadable MSWord file (revised August 2006)
Obviously, the first part of a formal document like this needs to contain essential identifying data:
- organization, division and department
- year or period covered
- location/site/based at/contact details (e.g., email)
- months in present position
- length of service
N.B. It is unlawful (UK and generally in Europe too) to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of age. As such, while not unlawful, the inclusion of age and date-of-birth sections on appraisal forms is not recommended (along with all other documentation used in assessing people). See the Age Diversity information for more details.
Part A (to be completed by the appraisee before the interview and sent to the appraiser x days before the appraisal)
A1 State your understanding of your duties and responsibilities.
A2 Discussion points: (not exhaustive or definitive - for more ideas look at the interviews questions)
- Has the past year been good/bad/satisfactory or otherwise for you, and why?
- What do you consider to be your most important achievements of the past year?
- What do you like and dislike about working for this organization?
- What elements of your job do you find most difficult?
- What elements of your job interest you the most, and least?
- What do you consider to be your most important tasks in the next year?
- What action could be taken to improve your performance in your current position by you, and your boss?
- What kind of work or job would you like to be doing in one/two/five years time?
- What sort of training/experience would benefit you in the next year? Broaden this question to include 'whole-person development' beyond job skills - for example: What do you have a personal passion for that we might help you to pursue? (It's a fact that when person develops interests, talents and experiences that they truly love and enjoy - even if the area seems completely unrelated to work - then the person becomes more valuable, mature, and motivated at work too, because they have grown as a person. Within reason, employers can and should help people to develop in any way they wish, and often even the most unconnected development or experiences hold much valuable learning that are directly transferable and usable at work - all it takes is a bit of imagination.)
A3 List the objectives you set out to achieve in the past 12 months (or the period covered by this appraisal) with the measures or standards agreed - against each comment on achievement or otherwise, with reasons where appropriate. Score the performance against each objective (1-3 = poor, 4-6 = satisfactory, 7-9 = good, 10 = excellent):
A4 Score your own capability or knowledge in the following areas in terms of your current role requirements (1-3 = poor, 4-6 = satisfactory, 7-9 = good, 10 = excellent). If appropriate bring evidence with you to the appraisal to support your assessment. (This list is not exhaustive or definitive - the list should reflect the requirements of the job and the career path.) See the skills and behaviours assessment tools for other aspects to include in this list. Other roles in other industries, for example technical, engineering, healthcare, legal, finance, leisure, transport, construction, etc, will require different skill sets. These are examples of a typical commercial or management skill set.
- commercial judgement
- product/technical knowledge
- time management
- planning, budgeting and forecasting
- reporting and administration
- communication skills
- delegation skills
- IT/equipment/machinery skills
- meeting expectations, deadlines and commitments
- problem-solving and decision-making
- team-working and developing/helping others
- energy, determination and work-rate
- steadiness under pressure
- leadership and integrity
- adaptability, flexibility, and mobility
- personal appearance and image
- appreciation and application of social responsibility, sustainability, and ethical considerations
A5 In light of your current capabilities, your performance against past objectives, and your future personal growth and/or job aspirations, what activities and tasks would you like to focus on during the next year. Include in this any 'whole-person non-work-related development that the person feels would help them to grow and become more fulfilled as a person.
Part B (to be completed during the appraisal by the appraiser - where appropriate and safe to do so, certain items can completed by the appraiser before the appraisal, and then discussed and validated or amended in discussion with the appraisee during the appraisal.)
name of appraiser:
time managing appraisee:
B1 Describe the purpose of the appraisee's job. Discuss and compare with self-appraisal entry in A1. Clarify job purpose and priorities where necessary.
B2 Review discussion points in A2, and note the points of interest and action.
B3 List the objectives that the appraisee set out to achieve in the past 12 months (or the period covered by this appraisal - typically these objectives will have been carried forward from the previous appraisal record) with the measures or standards agreed - against each comment on achievement or otherwise, with reasons where appropriate. Score the performance against each objective (1-3 = poor, 4-6 = satisfactory, 7-9 = good, 10 = excellent). Compare with the self-appraisal in B3. Discuss and note points of interest and action, particularly training and development needs and wishes.
B4 Score the appraisee's capability or knowledge in the following areas in terms of their current (and if known, next) role requirements (1-3 = poor, 4-6 = satisfactory, 7-9 = good, 10 = excellent). NB This competencies list is not exhaustive or definitive - the list should reflect the requirements of the job and the career path. See also the skills and behaviours assessment tools for other aspects to include in this list. Other roles in other industries, for example technical, engineering, healthcare, legal, finance, leisure, transport, construction, etc, will require different skill sets. These are examples of a typical commercial or management skill set. Compare with the self-appraisal in B4. Discuss and note points of interest and action, particularly training and development needs and wishes.
- commercial judgement
- product/technical knowledge
- time management
- planning, budgeting and forecasting
- reporting and administration
- communication skills
- delegation skills
- IT/equipment/machinery skills
- meeting expectations, deadlines and commitments
- problem-solving and decision-making
- team-working and developing/helping others
- energy, determination and work-rate
- steadiness under pressure
- leadership and integrity
- adaptability, flexibility, and mobility
- personal appearance and image
- appreciation and application of social responsibility, sustainability, and ethical considerations
B5 Discuss and agree the appraisee's career direction options and wishes, and readiness for promotion, and compare with and discuss the self-appraisal entry in A5. Some people do not wish for promotion, but everyone is capable of, and generally benefits from, personal development - development and growth should be available to all, not just the ambitious. Again consider 'whole-person' development outside of obvious work-related training.
B6 Discuss and agree the skills, capabilities and experience required for competence in current role, and if appropriate for readiness to progress to the next role or roles. It is usually helpful to refer to the skill-set or similar to that shown in A/B4, in order to accurately identify all development areas, whether for competence at current level or readiness to progress to next job level/type. Consider the connections between a person's natural talents, personal interests, passions, etc., to their work roles and their work aspirations. There are often huge overlaps between ' whole-person development' outcomes (which might not obviously relate to work) and the person's job. A person who becomes better at anything outside of their work almost always becomes better at their work too. The big difference of course is that people want to pursue their own personal passions and interests, whereas many are not so keen to attend job skills training courses that to them are far less stimulating. Seek to help the person to grow in whatever direction they want, not just to identify relevant work skills training.
B7 Discuss and agree the specific objectives that will enable the appraisee to reach competence and to meet required performance in current job. These must adhere to the SMARTER rules - specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-bound, enjoyable, recorded.
B8 Discuss and agree the specific objectives that will enable the appraisee to move towards, or achieve readiness for, the next job level/type, or if no particular next role is identified or sought, to achieve the desired personal growth or experience. Must also adhere to SMARTER rules.
B9 Discuss and agree as far as is possible (given budgetary, availability and authorisation considerations) the training and development support to be given to help the appraisee meet the agree objectives.
NB Appraisers should note that personal development and support must be offered to all employees, not just the ambitious. Job-skills training isn't restricted to sending someone on an external course - it includes internal courses, coaching, mentoring (mentoring someone else and well as being mentored), secondment to another role (eg, deputising for someone while they are away on holiday), shadowing, distance-learning, reading books, watching videos, attending meetings and workshops, workbooks, manuals and guides, researching, giving presentations; anything relevant and helpful that will help the person develop towards the standards and aims, and as a person. Training and development should not be restricted to job-skills. Discuss ways to help the person achieve whatever personal development and experiences that they feel passionate about, even if initially there seems no relationship or benefit to the work and the job because almost certainly there will be: often in the skills themselves, and if not, then almost always in the increased wisdom and maturity that comes from any sort of personal growth.
Avoid giving commitment to an appraisee for any training expenditure before suitable approval, permission or availability has been confirmed - discuss likely training and development requirements with the relevant authority before the appraisal to check on policies and options and approvals. Raising false hopes is not helpful to the appraisal process.
B10 Any other issues (it's important to offer the opportunity to the appraisee to raise any other points, even if they need to be discussed at another meeting, outside of the appraisal process, which would generally be the case.)
Signed and dated appraiser and appraisee:
(Finally it's advisable to show instructions as to the distribution of copies of the completed form, a reminder of its confidential nature, and a statement as to the individual's rights under the data protection laws applicable.)
The following are few examples of tools and materials that relate closely to the appraisals process, and particularly for identifying and prioritising individual and collective group training needs, all of which is commonly referred to Training Needs Analysis, or TNA.
Modern integrated computerised HR/training management systems will offer more sophisticated functionality than these simple tools, however these templates and traning needs analysis (TNA) spreadsheets can be useful for basic requirements, and also for specifying and evolving more modern complex learning and development management systems.
Bear in mind that these assessments and TNA tools are concerned principally with conventional work skills and attributes, and how to identify and prioritise group development needs. You should consider separately how best develop unique personal potential in every person, since a person's unique personal potential is usually quite different to the skills implied or required by their job role. See the 'Fantasticat' concept for ideas about nurturing and encouraging development of unique personal potential.
Various other templates and tools for learning and development which can be used alongside appraisals processes are available from the free resources section.
The resources below are available as in different file formats including PDF's, MSWord or Excel working tools.
performance appraisal form sample/template - PDF (revised August 2006)
performance appraisal form sample/template - MSWord (revised August 2006)
360 degree appraisals form template - MSWord
360 degree appraisals form template - MSExcel
see the 360 degree appraisals guide
The skill/behaviours individual assessments and training needs analysis tools (available in pdf and working file MSExcel versions above and from the free resources section) are simple, effective and flexible tools for assessing individual training needs and for group training needs analysis. Adapt them to suit your purposes, which can extend to specifying and evolving more complex learning and development management systems.
While the word 'training' is used widely on this webpage (mainly because many people search for and recognise the word 'training'), try to use the words 'learning' and 'development' when structuring your own processes and adapting these tools. The words Learning and Development capture the spirit of growing people from the inside out, rather than the traditional approach of 'putting skills in' through prescriptive training methods, which are less likely to enthuse and motivate people than self-driven learning and development.
The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) spreadsheet is now available in three different variations, based on three different individual skill/behaviour assessments for the roles:
- commercial/sales, and
The tools, available above, offer a simple, free and very powerful way to identify, assess, analyse, prioritise and plan training needs, for individuals, small teams, small companies, and very large organisations.
You can use the tools in the present format or adapt them to suit your situation. Obviously ensure that the skill/behaviours descriptions are consistent throughout the individual assessment tool and the Training Needs Analysis tool. It is entirely possible to include a variety of 'skill-sets' on a single TNA spreadsheet.
You can use whatever scoring system suits you and your situation, although number scoring (rather than words or letters) is necessary for spreadsheet analysis.
A 1-4 scoring system generally works well, since it gives less opportunity for middling, non-committal answers. Primarily you need to know simply whether each capability is adequate for the role or not.
Ensure you identify clear definitions for the scoring, particularly if comparing or analysing different people's scores, where consistency of measurement is important, eg:
- 1 = little or no competence
- 2 = some competence, but below level required for role
- 3 = competence at required level for role
- 4 = competence exceeds level required for role
For self-use: The skills/behaviour set assessments require some interpretation and ideally discussion with a trusted friend, colleague or boss to establish the 2nd view validation. As well as encouraging self-awareness development and simply thinking about one's own feelings and aptitudes, the assessment and reflection are an interesting and viable basis for assessing/discussing/reviewing personal development and career focus. When the scoring is completed you can prioritise your development needs (essential skills with the lowest scores).
For use with others as development tool: The skill/behaviour assessment is an effective tool for recruitment, appraisals and ongoing development and training. It can be adapted for different roles, and if used with existing staff ideally the person performing the role should have some input as to the skill and behavioural criteria listed, and the importance (essential or desirable) for each characteristic in the role. Working with a group to adapt the skill-set criteria according to the people's jobs makes an interesting workshop and team building session: involving people in developing the system creates a sense of ownership and commitment to using the assessment method itself. The skill-set/behavioural tests can be used in conjunction with the Training Needs Analysis tool available from the website as a working MSExcel spreadsheet file. Assessment can be carried out formally one-to-one as part of an appraisal or review meeting, referring to evidence if appropriate, or informally in a workshop situation as a group exercise (assessment in pairs, with partners helping to establish the 2nd view validation for each other). Whether informally or formally assessed, the results for a group can be transferred to the corresponding Training Needs Analysis tool, to identify team or group training priorities. Training priorities are the essential skills with the lowest average scores.
Informal assessments in a workshop situation also enable an immediate 'straw poll' analysis of group training needs, and as such provide an excellent method for quickly identifying and agreeing training and development needs for a group.
The skillset tools and related TNA (Training Needs Analysis) spreadsheet tools on this website provide quick easy adaptable templates for explaining, identifying and planning group training needs.
The skillset and TNA tools obviously measure the criteria that are detailed within the tools. Adapt them as required.
The instruments are broad indicators of training and development needs, based mainly on subjective views, and in this respect are not as sophisticated as more scientific and complex TNA systems.
You can adapt the criteria (skills/behaviours elements) within the skillset and TNA tools according to what you believe are important/relevant for your role(s).
So if the tool does not cover what you need to measure then adapt it by changing the criteria (the skill/attributes/behavioural elements).
Importantly you can involve the group in doing this, and in appreciating the components and standards of each element.
Generally assessments of all sorts work better when those being assessed feel involved, in control, fully informed and empowered - rather than allowing a feeling of being excluded and covertly or secretly measured, which arises commonly in the way that many work-related assessments are introduced and managed.
The 360 degree feedback tool enables better objective measurement than the Skillset tool, but entails significantly more set up and administration.
While I have no documented evidence or statistical data for the Skillset tool's use and effectiveness, in my own experience I have always found it helpful in initially developing understanding of the different management/role aspects; also for developing understanding of individual self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses, and to provide the leader with an overview of individual and group needs.
The skillset tool is especially useful for group training needs analysis methods when used in conjunction with the TNA spreadsheet, different versions of which are available and explained in the tools for appraisals, assessments and TNA section.
These are quick broad flexible indicators, not a scientifically validated or very detailed systems; for example they does not break down elements into smaller sub-elements of competencies.
While being quick and flexible, a weakness of the tools is the reliance on subjective opinion, and the looseness with which the criteria can be interpreted, both of which can be addressed in the way that you present and use and develop the tools.
Scoring and measuring system suitability is critical, especially if you are making big decisions on the outcomes, which require clear score definitions and implications (explain to participants the judgements/actions which will stem from the scoring).
Generally a score range of 1-3 is too narrow. Not only because life isn't that simple, but mainly because the mid-way 2 option encourages fence-sitting which inhibits clarity of individual and overall results (as any odd number score range tends to do). 1-3 or 1-5 virtually ensures you end up with a cloudy result because so many answers are in the middle.
If you need to change from a 3 or 5 point system, this objective-scientific angle might provide you with the best lever to do so. 1-4 is much better because people have to decide whether the ability is to standard or not - there's not an automatic average or mid-way for the 'don't knows'.
If you have to stick with 1-3 then ensure the meanings are such as to ensure black or white answers.
'Grey' answers at number 2 in a 1-3 scale, e.g., average, medium, satisfactory, etc., aren't really any help. Nor are the typical definitions found at number three in a 1-5 scale.
A way of making a 1-3 scale acceptable is:
- 1 - needs improving
- 2 - good
- 3 - excellent
Here the 1-3 is effectively turned into a 1-2 (yes/no or is/isn't) scoring system (whereby 1 = below standard; 2 & 3 = above standard) which at least enables a clear decision, albeit just yes or no, which in actual fact is all that's necessary for many TNA's.
Tight scales are fine - in fact in some ways easier - for a group training needs analysis, but are not good for individual skills audits or training needs analysis, where the question of degree is more important for individual task direction and development planning, and to enable more reliable comparison between individuals.
The accuracy and reliability of any scoring system increases with full description/definitions, and better still with examples for each score band. This gives everyone the same objective-scientific reference points, and reduces subjectivity.
360 degree appraisals are a powerful developmental method and quite different to traditional manager-subordinate appraisals (which fulfil different purposes). As such a 360 degree process does not replace the traditional one-to-one process - it augments it, and can be used as a stand-alone development method.
360 degree appraisals involve the appraisee receiving feedback from people (named or anonymous) whose views are considered helpful and relevant. The feedback is typically provided on a form showing job skills/abilities/attitudinal/behavioural criteria and some sort of scoring or value judgement system. The appraisee should also assess themselves using the same feedback instrument or form.
360 degree respondents can be the appraisee's peers, up-line managers/execs, subordinate staff, team members, other staff, customers, suppliers - anyone who comes into contact with the appraisee and has opinions/views/reactions of and to the appraisee. Numerous systems and providers are available - I wouldn't recommend any in particular because my view about this process is that you should develop a process and materials for your own situation, preferably involving the appraisees in this, which like all participative approaches, often works well.
You can develop your own 360 degree feedback system by running a half-day or full day workshop (depending on extent and complexity of the required process) involving the appraisees or a sample group, during which process and materials can be created and provisionally drafted. The participative workshop approach as ever will give you something that's wholly appropriate and 'owned' instead of something off-the-shelf or adapted, which would be arbitrary, mostly inappropriate and impracticable (in terms of criteria and process), and 'not invented here', ie., imposed rather than owned.
I would recommend against restricting the 360 feedback to peers and managers only - it's a waste of the potential of the 360 degree appraisal method. To use the feedback process for its fullest '360 degree' benefit involve customers (in the broadest sense - could be patients, students, users, depending on the organization), staff, suppliers, inspectors, contractors, and others for whom good working relationships and understanding with the appraisee affect overall job performance, quality, service, etc.
Ensure respondents are aware of equality and discrimination issues, notably the Age Discrimination legislation and implications which might be new to some people. Comments such as 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks', or 'not old enough to command respect' are ageist, discriminatory, unlawful, and will create a liability for the originator and the employer.
Developing 360 degree appraisals systems process make ideal subjects for a workshops, which in itself contains some very helpful developmental benefits and experience for all involved. If you're not able to get everyone together for a workshop you should solicit input and ideas - particularly about appraisal criteria and respondents and anonymity - then draft out process and materials - then issue for approval, then pilot, review, adapt and then implement. Adapt, improve and develop on an ongoing basis.
It is my view that no aspects of 360 feedback should ever be mandatory for any appraisee or respondent. Given more than three or four similar role-types being appraised it's not sensible to produce individually tailored criteria, in which case when it comes to the respondents completing the feedback not all the criteria will be applicable for all respondents, nor for all appraisees either. By the same when designing the feedback instruments (whether hard-copy documents or online materials), it's useful to allow space for several 'other' aspects that the appraisee might wish to add to the standard criteria, and space for respondents to add 'other' comments. Open honest feedback can touch sensitivities, so be sure that appraisees understand and agree to the criteria, respondents (by type, if not named) and process.
Ensure suitable and sensitive counselling is provided as part of the informing of feedback results.
If 360 degree feedback results are to be analysed collectively to indicate the overall/total situation (ie., to assist in determining organizational training and development needs for instance), think carefully about the feedback form scoring system and particularly its suitability for input to some sort of analysis tool, which could be a spreadsheet, and therefore numerically based requiring numerical scores, rather than words, (words of course are more difficult to count and measure, and while words and description assessment enables more subtlety, they also allow more room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation).
For guidance have a look at the skills and behavioural assessment tool - it's not a 360 degree tool, but is an example of the basis of one, and some of the skills elements that can be included in a 360 degree appraisals form.
Similarly the training needs analysis tool is an example of a collective or organizational measurement tool, based on the input of a number of individual feedback assessments. This tool can easily be adapted to analyse a number of 360 degree responses.
See the 360 degree appraisal document, available in MSWord or Excel formats:
Here is a simple guide for introducing 360 degree appraisals into an organization (and any other management system for that matter):
- Consider and decide what you need the 360 degree system to achieve. What must it be? How must it work? What difference must it make?
- Choose/design a system (or system provider), ie., research and investigate your options (other local or same-sector companies using 360 already are a helpful reference point, or your trade association HR group, or a specialist HR advisory body such as CIPD in the UK if you are a member).
- Check the legal and contractual issues for your situation - privacy, individual choice, acceptable practices and rules, training, data protection, individual rights, adoption guide, etc. (360 degree systems are now well-developed and established. Best practice and good reference case-studies are more widely available than in the early years of 360 feedback development.)
- When you've decided on a system, pilot it with a few people to make sure it does what you expect. (It's best to establish some simple parameters or KPI's by which you can make this assessment, rather than basing success on instinct or subjective views.)
- When satisfied with the system, launch it via a seminar or workshop, preferably including role-plays and/or practical demonstration.
- Support the implementation with ongoing training, (include an overview in your induction training as well), a written process guide/booklet, and also publish process and standards on your intranet if you have one.
- Establish review and monitoring responsibility.
- Ensure any 360 degree appraisal system system is introduced and applied from top down, not bottom up, so everyone can see that the CEO is happy to undertake what he/she expects all the other staff to do. As with anything else, if the CEO and board agrees to undertake it first, the system will have much stronger take-up and credibility. If the plan for 360 feedback introduction is likely to be seen as another instrument of executive domination then re-think your plans.
Job descriptions are also a useful starting point for (but by no means the full extent of) establishing feedback criteria, as are customer/staff survey findings in which expectations/needs/priorities of appraisee performance are indicated or implied.
A 360 degree appraisal template typically contains these column headings or fields, also shown in the template example below:
- Key skill/capability type (eg communications, planning, reporting, creativity and problem solving, etc - whatever the relevant key skills and capabilities are for the role in question).
- Skill component/element (eg 'active listening and understanding' [within a 'communications' key skill], or 'generates ideas/options' [within a 'creativity/problem solving' key skill]). The number of elements per key skill varies - for some key skills there could be just one element; for others there could be five or six, which I'd recommend be the maximum. Break down the key skill if there are more than six elements - big lists and groups are less easy to work with.
- question number (purely for reference and ease of analysis)
- specific feedback question (relating to skill component, eg does the person take care to listen and understand properly when you/others are speaking to him/her? [for the active listening skill])
- tick-box or grade box (ideally a,b,c,d or excellent, good, not good, poor, or rate out of 5 or 10 - N.B. clarification and definitions of ratings system to participants and respondents is crucial, especially if analysing or comparing results within a group, when obviously consistency of interpretation of scoring is important)
A typical 360 degree feedback form template would look like this. This template allows a mixture of key skills comprising one, two, three, four, and up to six elements. The number of elements per key skill/capability would vary of course, so if necessary adjust the size of the boxes in the first column accordingly to accommodate more or less elements. See the notes directly above for more explanation about the purpose of each column and heading, and the feedback scoring method.
Feedback Form headings and instructions: appraisee name, date, feedback respondent name, position (if applicable) plus local instructions and guidelines for completion, etc.
|key skill/capability area||skill/capability element||question number||feedback question||feedback score|
|Optional section: for additional feedback comments about the appraisee (if you provide this option it is advisable to ask respondents to be as constructive as possible.....)|
A working file based on this format is available in MSWord and Excel versions:
You can see from this that the process of designing the feedback document (essentially a questionnaire) is to build it from the role's key skill areas, break down these into elements, and measure each via carefully worded questions, which the respondents answer and thereby grade the performance - ie., give feedback - in respect of the person in question.
The question as to anonymity of respondents is up to you. A grown-up organization with grown-up people should be able to cope with, and derive more benefit from, operating the process transparently - but you need to decide this. Some people are happier giving feedback anonymously. And some people are not able to deal particularly well with criticism from a named person. For more information and guidance about handling and explaining this particular aspect refer to the Johari Window model - it's a powerful and helpful concept to use alongside the 360 degree feedback/appraisal process.
As mentioned above, workshops are a good way to devise these questionnaires, especially the questions to assess each skill or behavioural element.
Analysis of group results is much easier if you use a numerical rating system. The sample free training needs analysis spreadsheet tool can easily be adapted for analysis of 360 degree feedback results, which can then feed into the analysis of training needs. The same training needs analysis tool is also available in pdf format.
Some people advocate separating appraisals from pay review, however this does not make sense in organizations which require staff to be focused on their contribution to organizational performance, especially where there are clear accountabilities and measures (which in my view should apply in all organizations).
Organizations rightly or wrongly are geared to annual performance, and the achievement of a trading plan. This cascades to departments, teams and individuals, so it makes sense to assess people over a time period that fits with what the organization is working to. Put another way, it's not easy to appraise someone on their year's performance half way through the year. Transparency and accountability are prerequisites for proper assessment and appraisals.
Arguably 'best practice' is to schedule appraisals close to trading year-end, when year-end results and full year performance - for individuals and departments and organizations - can reliably be predicted. By holding appraisals at this time, and staff knowing that appraisals are focused on this trading period, people's thoughts and efforts can be concentrated on their contribution towards the organization's annual trading plan, which is a main appraisals driver and output (as well as individual development of course). Holding appraisals after year-end means that people start the year without formal agreed objectives, and also creates bigger delays for financial and payroll departments in their task to process pay awards and adjustments.
Departmental, team and individual objectives provide the context for the appraisal, linking clearly to performance bonus and performance-based pay awards, the rationale for which needs to be transparent and published prior to the start of the year to which they relate, for the full benefit and effect on staff effort to be realised.
Pay review would also coincide with the trading year, which makes sense from the planning and budgeting perspective. The business is in a position to know by the close of the final quarter what the overall pay review position is because the rationale has already been (it jolly well should have been) established and year-end financials can be predicted. Moreover the next year's trading plan (at least in outline) is established, which gives another useful context for appraising people, especially those (most staff hopefully) who have contributed to the planning process (ie, committed as to what they can do for the coming year, targets, budgets, staffing levels, priorities, objectives, etc).
The appraising managers can therefore go into appraisals fully briefed and prepared to discuss and explain the organization's overview results and financials to the appraisees. And the appraisees can see results and think in terms of their full year performance and contribution to corporate results, plus what they plan for next year, which provides the basis of the aims and objectives to be reviewed through the coming year and at the next year's appraisal.
Other than for directors, complex or difficult appraisals, appraisal meetings should not be 3 hour marathon sessions - this daft situation happens when boss and subordinate never sit down together one-to-one other than for the annual appraisal. If you only talk properly with someone once a year no wonder it takes all afternoon...
Boss and subordinate should ideally sit down one-to-one monthly (or at worse, quarterly, for the more mature, self-sufficient people), to review activity, ideas, performance, progress, etc., which makes the annual appraisal really easy when it comes around, and manageable in an hour or 90 minutes maximum.
Use of a good appraisal form including self-assessment elements is essential for well organised appraisals. See the free templates which are ready to use or adapt for your own situations and job roles:
performance appraisal form (pdf) sample/template - downloadable pdf (revised August 2006)
performance appraisal form (MSWord) sample/template - downloadable MSWord file (revised August 2006)
Ensure that appraisers and appraisees understand that they must prepare in advance or you're looking at 3 hour marathons again.
Training for appraisers and appraisees on how to use the appraisals process properly is very helpful obviously, especially taking a more modern view of what makes people effective and valuable to employers, and how to encourage this development, which relates to developing the whole person, in the direction they want to go, not just job skills, as explained earlier in this section.
If you want to be regarded as a caring and ethical organization, it's also helpful for the organization (board) to agree a basic across-the-board inflationary salary increase close to year end and announce this - everyone gets this. This can be based on a collection of factors, decided by the board, typically: inflation, the organization's financial position, demographics and competitor market forces on salary levels.
Individuals can then receive an additional increase on top of this according to criteria agreed before the start of the year (at their last appraisal) based on performance, achievement of targets, job-grade advancement, qualifications attained, training aims achieved, and any other performance levers that it is sensible, fair and practicable to incentivise.
From 1st October 2006 (UK and Europe) it is unlawful for pay and benefits to be linked to a person's age, aside from statutory mechanisms such as minimum wage levels. See the Age Diversity information.
The rationale for these individual awards must be established and budgeted for by the board, circulated, and explained to all staff via managers.
Whilst not always easy or practicable to design and implement, arguably the best collective annual pay increase mechanism is one that effectively rewards everyone directly and transparently for corporate performance, ie, 'profit share' in spirit, based on the whole organization and a business unit/department to which they relate, plus an individual performance-linked award based on the sort of levers mentioned above. It's about people believing that they are all part of the group effort, pulling together, and all enjoying a share of the success. Profit share deals just for directors are rightly regarded by most staff as elitist, exclusive, and divisive. If you want your people to give you 100%, include them in as many reward schemes as you can.
Where appraisals coincide with year-end, training department must not rely exclusively on appraisals data for training planning (the data arrives too late to be used for training planning for the next year quarter 1 and probably quarter 2).
Training planning must work from data (based on audits, analyses, manager inputs, questionnaires, market and legislative drivers, etc) gathered/received earlier during the year.
Training planning by its nature is a rolling activity and thought needs to be given to how best to manage the data-gathering and analysis (including the vital details from staff appraisals), training planning activity, and integrating the costs and budgeting within the corporate trading planning process.
A new employee is often subject to a probationary period - normally three months although probationary periods vary from a few weeks to a year. Probation must have a strong link to induction training. Probationers need to be supported properly or the chances of the new employee struggling or failing will increase. The nature and process of probationary reviews depend on local methods and policies, however the elements of the review process (and any documentation or system used) will commonly be:
- name position department etc.
- dates - commencement and review
- basis of review - clear explanation of what constitutes a successful outcome, linked to consequences of success and failure, according to probationary policies
- agreed activities and aims for probationary period
- clear and transparent quantifiable measures for each aim/activity - for acceptable probationary review, and for ultimate job performance standard if different (aims must be SMART - specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-bound - aims and activities should logically reflect and represent the core skills, knowledge, behaviour an learning necessary for the probationers job function)
- agreed support, training and resources for aims/activities
- names and contact details for mentors, trainers, helpers for each activity
- self-assessment section for each aim/activity
- trainer/supervisor assessment of each aim/activity
- probationary review comments and agreed future actions, per aim/activity
- overall review summary, comment and agree status/actions
- signatures and dates of reviewer and probationer
See the SMART task delegation review sheet, which is helpful for agreeing, recording and measuring aims.
The Multiple Intelligences concept and test and VAK Learning Styles concept and test are extremely useful tools for appraisals, before or after, to help people understand their natural potential and strengths and to help managers understand this about their people too.
There are a lot of people out there who are in jobs which don't allow them to use and develop their greatest strengths; so the more we can help employees to understand their own special potential, and find roles that really fit well, the happier we shall all be.
You might also want to look at the Fantasticat concept too - it's mainly for children, but sometimes it helps to return to where we started when and if things go off track. Understanding what we are fantastic at is at the very heart of being happy and achieving great things in our work, and this applies whether you are thinking about this for yourself, or helping others to do the same.
It is worth re-emphasising the implications of the UK (consistent with Europe) Equality Regulations 2010, which make it unlawful to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of age, (in addition of course to race, religion, gender, disability, etc). New or recent legislation always creates a vulnerability for trainers and managers, and Age Discrimination particularly has several implications for performance appraisals, documents used, and the training of people who conduct staff appraisals. See the Age Diversity information. Understand about equality law also if you are being appraised. It affects very many people and situuations.
Be as truthful as you can without exposing yourself unnecessarily. Obviously if your company and/or boss does not have a positive and fair approach be careful not to create vulnerabilities for yourself.
Always be positive, never negative - don't complain, don't point out problems, avoid making personal attacks on anyone or their abilities. If there are problems express them as opportunities to develop or improve, an if possible suggest or recommend how these improvements can be made.
Ask for help and training and coaching and development in areas that you believe will improve your productivity and value to the organization.
Look for ways to relate personal growth and development of your own passions and interests outside of work, to your work, and the benefits this sort of development will bring to your employer. Think about your hobbies and your natural strengths - they will almost certainly entail using many attributes that will be helpful for your employer - perhaps beyond the role that you find yourself in currently. If your employer is unaware of your talents and potential make sure you tell your manager, and if your employer fails to understand the benefits of helping you to follow your unique personal potential (which each of us has) then maybe think about finding an employer who places a higher value on their people.
Use the list or skill categories on the appraisal form to assess your capabilities and behaviours one by one - be specific, objective and be able to reference examples and evidence. This is an important area for the appraisal meeting itself so think about it and if necessary ask others for feedback to help you gather examples and form a reliable view of your competence in each category listed. If the appraisal for does not have a list of skills and behaviours create your own (use your job description for a basis).
Assess your performance for the appraisal period (normally the past year) in each of your areas of responsibility; if there are no specific responsibilities or objectives brought forward from your previous appraisal or on-going meetings with your manager again use your job description as a basis for assessing your performance, competence and achievements.
Identify objectives for yourself for the next year. These should be related to your current job responsibilities and your intended personal development, and be a mixture of short, medium and long-term aims (ie, days or weeks, months, and a year or more). Attach actions and measurable outputs to these aims and objectives -this is a commitment to change and improve which demonstrates a very responsible and mature attitude.
If your aims and actions require training or coaching or other support then state this, but do not assume you have a right to receive it - these things cost money and your manager may not be able to commit to them without seeking higher approval.
Think about and state your longer-term aspirations - qualifications and learning, career development, and your personal life fulfilment issues too - they are increasingly relevant to your work, and also to your value as an employee.
Seek responsibility, work, and tasks within and beyond your normal role. Extra work and responsibility, and achieving higher things develop people and increase productivity for and contribution to the organization.
Always seek opportunities to help and support others, including your boss.
Always look upon reward as an economic result of your productivity. You have no 'right' to reward or increase in reward, and reward is not driven by comparisons with what others receive. Reward, and particularly increase in reward, results from effort and contribution to organizational performance. As such, if you want higher reward, seek first the opportunity to contribute more.
See other tools and materials related to appraisals, individual assessments, and learning and development, including:
- job interviews and interviewing - the processes are similar to appraisals - many of the questions are useful and can be adapted for the appraisal meeting or the appraisal form itself - the information and ideas for group selections and assessment centres also relate potentially to performance appraisals
- personality theory and models
- multiple intelligence theory and learning styles
- coaching and training process flow diagram
- delegation/objectives SMART tool
- training planner tool
- Kolb learning styles theory and diagram
- empathy to build trust and diffuse conflict
- transactional analysis - for better communicating and understanding
- delegation - how to
- Adams equity theory on job motivation and diagram
- job descriptions - structure and examples - it's helpful to have the person's job description at appraisals, or to take yours along if it's your own appraisal...