Appraisals; a process often feared by many employees.

Instigated by the company HR with your line manager at the helm, it is easy to get the fear when the appraisal invitation appears in your inbox.

Performance appraisal - make it work for you.

However, an appraisal doesn’t have to been a source of stress and strain. It has the potential to boost you towards those key career jumps that you always wanted.

Often, two things stand between you and a successful appraisal: fear and/or inexperience.

Talking to employees and employers on a daily basis, Hayley Ives, Senior HR Business Partner at Randstad, sees the appraisal as a golden opportunity that is, all too often, squandered. She puts this down to fear – and a lack of planning.

“Appraisals are a great opportunity to get the progress and attention you really aspire to, by planning and using your initiative you can really make a difference to your working life.” Hayley notes.

Too few people do though – and that’s mainly because the problem runs deeper. Research from the management consultancy Hay Group revealed that half of public sector workers and a third of business leaders don't fully understand what appraisals are actually about.

What is an appraisal?

As a result, many consider appraisals merely a box-ticking exercise. A YouGov survey goes further, saying a whopping 39 per cent of British workers have never even had a career conversation with their manager.

Why are we missing the opportunity of appraisals, when such conversations can be a career and potentially a life changing process?

A good appraisal system involves clear guidelines, constructive meetings and interviews, times for review and reporting. Acas lists the different types of appraisal you can expect: 

  • rating: your characteristics as an employee are broadly rated on a scale which may range from 'outstanding' to 'unacceptable' 
  • comparison with objectives: you and your manager agree objectives. The appraisal is based on how far these objectives have been met 
  • critical incidents: the appraiser records incidents of employees' positive and negative behaviour during a given period
  • narrative report: your manager describes your work performance in his or her own words.

More appraisal examples.

360-degree appraisal.

A 360-degree appraisal includes feedback from a group of 'involved stakeholders'. This could be your fellow team members, managers, and internal or external customers affected by how well you have done your job.

An appraisal like this will often increase your levels of self-awareness and may involve others in leadership and development issues.

Typical aspects that might form the basis of questionnaires sent to others to rate your include: 

  • leadership
  • team work/management
  • self-management, communication
  • vision, decision-making
  • drive and adaptability

Sometimes feedback is anonymous, but not always.

The benefits of a 360-degree appraisal, if sensitively and properly designed, are roughly the same as any frank and constructive appraisal, but it provides you with extra insight into how you are perceived by others.

Team appraisal.

Through an assessment centre, using a range of methods, simulations and exercises, this approach evaluates the effectiveness of the team your are in.

This type of appraisal can involve time and money, so it is less common. If you are involved in a team appraisal, expect to find out more about issues such as lack of trust and confidence amongst team members, issues with relationships between team members, or confusion over roles and responsibilities.