Performance Appraisals: A Quick Guide For Managers

Sections of this topic

    It’s that time again! Perhaps the most dreaded management practice is the annual employee performance appraisal.

    Whenever the subject comes up, out comes the groans from both managers and staff no matter what industry or type of company. Many say employee performance appraisals are like having a root canal — only more painful. It shouldn’t be.

    If done correctly, the appraisal process can become the most valuable instrument in the manager’s toolbox. The few hours a manager invests can impact an employee’s performance for an entire year.

    Here is a quick guide for managers or supervisors in preparing, conducting, and following up on employee performance appraisals.


    • Give employee advance notice so that he /she can prepare for the discussion.
    • Review the position’s responsibilities and standards.
    • Review the employee’s job performance for the past year.
    • Identify potential development areas that can be addressed through training and special projects.
    • Set aside an 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 the employee to review his or her job performance for the past year.
    • 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 an 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 do well? Could have done better? Learned about the employee? Learned about myself?

    Management Success Tip:

    Remember, the employee performance appraisal meeting is an opportunity to recognize achievements, identify and correct problems, and set specific objectives for the coming year. Make sure you get off on the right foot by following the above guidelines.

    What’s been your experience with performance appraisals – either as an employee receiving feedback or as a supervisor giving feedback? I’m interested in hearing from you whether it was good or bad.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?

    • Build your skills with an effective Manager.
    • Sign up for Quick Wins: 101 Management Tips.
    • Find performance boosters in the Smart Moves Blog.
    • Fast-track your leadership. Be part of a successful team.
    • Need a speaker? Get the Edge keynotes-webinars-workshops.
    • Copyright © 2012 Marcia Zidle business and leadership coach.