Whenever we run Performance Appraisal courses for clients, we usually begin the process with a debate about whether there is a role for Performance Appraisal in fast moving modern businesses. There are many good reasons given for not running appraisals. Many people have memories of awkward meetings with their boss trying to make sense of things that happened months before. Others admitted that they were always somewhat guarded in appraisals because they were concerned that any negative marks could affect their pay. Others still reported that in their experience appraisals were used (by their boss) as a way of getting six months worth of negative feedback into an hours meeting or that the feedback they received was so generic as to be useless.

Of course we come to understand that such views are the result of poor execution of the appraisal meeting rather than the concept of appraisal. However when I ask groups to come to a conclusion as to whether Appraisals are a good thing the answer (after much consideration) is usually Yes if……

The “If” being that appraisals are worthwhile so long as there is a robust performance management process in place. So it is worthwhile taking a moment to identify the different elements of the performance management mix and to put the performance appraisal into it’s proper place as an essential component in the mix that will only work if the other parts of the engine are functioning well.

If your appraisal system isn’t working for you, then perhaps it is best to take a look initially at least, at your whole Performance Management System.


Many of these Performance Management Processes share similar characteristics. Most involve one to one dialogue and a degree of action planning. It is important, however, to remember not to confuse the measures or to try and combine them. A Performance Appraisal can be likened to a service on a car. The point of the service is to check all working parts, not just to address short-term problems. This way, the car will run efficiently and optimally for many years because problems have been avoided. In the same way, the appraisal should look at all aspects of performance, not just the problem areas.

How does Performance Appraisal Differ from other Performance Management measures?

Performance Appraisals are just one component in a range of possible interventions that a manager can use to drive performance. These include;

PM Measure Why Notes
Job Review Employee is changing jobs (through promotion restructuring etc) or the nature of their role is changing This is a meeting to review and amend the job description and the key performance indicators associated with it.The meeting should take place every time there is a significant change in the employee’s role or responsibilities.
Coaching Whenever there is a development need for which coaching is the most appropriate option. Usually a series of one to one meetings focused on developing a key skill or achieving a specific goal.
Pay Review To communicate and or discuss remuneration terms. This should be done at least annually (even if no award is made) or after a major shift in role or responsibility. Pay Review decisions should be made with reference to results as reported in a Performance Appraisal.They should not be a major part of the appraisal process. Avoid doing Pay and Performance reviews in the same meeting if at all possible.
Disciplinary Meeting Whenever there has been a breach of rules or professional standards.Disciplinary meetings can vary in severity from informal “reminders” to formal written warnings. Disciplinary meetings should take place close to the occurrence of the problem behaviour.Disciplinary meetings should never be combined with appraisals.
Career Counselling Meetings between Manager and staff member to discuss long-term career goals and opportunities. These should occur by mutual consent There is an element of career counselling within all appraisals, however, the appraisal must primarily be about current and future performance.
Performance Appraisal Occur at regular intervals (2 or 3 times per year).All employees should have the right to an AppraisalThe aim is to review and analyse current performance and identify ways to develop future performance Performance Appraisals are a regular and systematic review of every part of an individual’s performance.Usually one to one meetings, the primary focus is to improve individual performance.