Appraisal meeting guideline

What a good appraisal meeting looks like

A good and constructive appraisal meeting is one in which:

  • Staff member does most of the talking and the manager actively listens to what they say
  • There is time built in for further reflection and analysis
  • Performance is analyzed, not personality
  • The whole period is reviewed and not just recent or isolated events
  • Achievement is recognized and reinforced
  • The meeting ends positively with agreed action plans to improve and sustain performance in the future.

A bad appraisal meeting:

  • Focuses on a catalogue of failures and omissions
  • Is controlled by the appraiser with little input from the staff member
  • Ends with disagreements between the manager and staff member
  • Leaves the staff member feeling disengaged or demotivated by the process.

Asking the right questions

It is important for the manager to ask both open and probing questions.

Open questions are general rather than specific; they enable people to decide how they should be answered and encourage them to talk freely. Examples include:

  • How do you feel things have been going?
  • How do you see the job developing?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • Tell me, why do you think that happened?

Probing questions dig deeper for more specific information on what happened or why. They should indicate support for the individual’s answer and encourage the staff member to provide more information about their feelings and attitudes, while they can also be used to reflect back to the individual and check information. Examples would be:

  • That’s very interesting. Tell me more about ...?
  • To what extent do you think that ...?
  • Have I got the right impression? Do you mean that ...?


To be good listeners during the review meeting, managers should:

  • Concentrate on the staff member and be aware of behaviour, body language and nuances that supplement what is being said.
  • Respond quickly when necessary but not interrupt.
  • Ask relevant questions to clarify meaning.
  • Comment on points to demonstrate understanding but keep them short and not inhibit the flow of the speaker.

Giving feedback

Feedback should be based on facts, not subjective opinion, and should always be backed up with evidence and examples.

The aim of feedback should be to help staff understand the impact of their actions and behaviour. Corrective action may be required where the feedback indicates that something has gone wrong. However, wherever possible, feedback should be used positively to reinforce the good aspects and identify opportunities for further positive action. Giving feedback is a skill and as a Manager you need to prepare for the meeting.

Feedback will work best when the following conditions are met:

  • Individuals are given access to readily-available information on their performance and progress.
  • Feedback is related to actual events, observed behaviours or actions.
  • Events are described rather than judged.
  • Feedback is accompanied by questions soliciting the individual’s opinion why certain things happened.
  • Individuals are encouraged to come to their own conclusions about what happened and why.
  • There is understanding about what went wrong and an emphasis on ‘putting things right’ rather than censuring past behaviour.

Attitudes versus behaviour

Be careful that your feedback is specific, and behaviour based and not attitude based. Attitudes are what people think where behaviour are what people do or do not do. Behaviour can be documented where attitudes cannot.

Below are a few examples of the difference between attitude and behaviour

Attitudes Behaviour
Enthusiastic Completing work ahead of deadline
Neglectful Violating a policy
Laziness Arriving late to meetings
Attention to detail Submitting reports without any errors or omissions
Quickly getting up to answer a question from a customer
Messy / disorganized Unable to locate files on desk
Difficult to get along with Shouting at coworkers in the office