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How 2XL at Appraisals

Management Tip

How 2XL at Appraisals

Appraisals are now virtually compulsory in all organisations – often linked to pay reviews, or at least to the business planning cycle – and are often dreaded by both appraisee and manager alike.  The appraisee may feel dread because they fear criticism and a higher workload, and the manager may fear possible confrontation and /or embarrassment unless they can truly compliment their team member on a great year’s work. 

Handled properly, the appraisal is a golden opportunity to really ‘add value’ to a work relationship and to the effectiveness of the individual.  Done badly, the appraisal is waste of time, or at worst, causes damage (i.e. the team member goes back to work feeling worse than before the appraisal started.)

What’s the secret? Try thinking about the appraisal as a team activity between you and just one individual, not a school report by you (the teacher) about your team member (the pupil).  The aim is to celebrate success and solve joint problems together.

Tip one – See the whole performance picture.

Performance – good or not so good – is rarely about the individual alone.  They are expected to achieve results within a context, and quite often other factors have an impact on the productivity and morale of the team member.

Try this little formula to think through the work of your appraisee – do this before the meeting:


Was their year a success / failure or something in-between?

What facts are you basing your judgement on?

How have you measured the effect this person’s work has on the organisation’s success or service to the customer?

What skills and knowledge did they bring to the job?

What about their personal qualities and attitude, such as:

  • Initiative
  • Understanding
  • Motivation
  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Maturity
  • Flexibility

How have you backed up their efforts with the right resources – equipment, training, budget, and with your own management skills? (Be honest!)

Have you offered them:

  • Inspiring goals
  • Team spirit
  • Recognition & support
  • High energy
  • Optimism
  • A role model
  • A truly no-blame culture
  • Good resource management


Tip two – Offer inspiring targets

People are not machines and they can’t all be managed in the same way.  It is not treating people unfairly to recognise that they get satisfaction from their work in different ways. When you are planning performance for the year ahead you can respond to that in order to raise their commitment.


Think about your team: it is likely that someone will enjoy working with or caring for others; someone will enjoy challenge and risk, change and responsibility; someone will enjoy problem-solving and organising systems; and someone will like being creative and practical. It’s not difficult to find out what each team member enjoys – ask them about this when reviewing the last year’s work and ask why.

Think about yourself: which of these different types of working do you enjoy? 

Be aware of what you value and rate highly and be careful not to impose these values on all your team regardless of their own preferences.  Most teams need a mixture of skills and styles to achieve their targets, make sure you allow people to develop in their strength areas, even if that means adjusting job parameters.

Think about measuring performance:

You may find that the way you measure performance will make a difference to how committed a team member feels.


Caring /team types will value:

Customer satisfaction

Team targets

Compliments from customers

Solving customers and colleagues problems

Challenge/change types will value:




Success or achievement(especially public)


Problem-solvers/ organisers will value:



Reduction in complaints


Problem solution


Creative/practical types will value:

Innovation and design

Team or corporate targets

Customer satisfaction

Project outcomes



 Tip three – treat the appraisal action plan like a business plan

In other words, don’t file it away or your plan will fail.  Use your diary to follow up all the agreements and target dates you discussed, and also the interim milestones.  It’s so easy to pencil these in your diary and it gives the appraisee the message that these targets are important to you if you remember to monitor them.  Make sure they use their action plans as a working document too.

Appraisal Interviews

Don’t forget to follow up your part of the deal too, such as arranging training, or introducing new and interesting work.  This will build up a trust over the following months and will make a big difference to your appraisal next time round.


For information on training in Appraisal Interviews

For more info phone 07514 031549