What is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is a discussion between the manager and the staff member where together they review past performance against previously agreed criteria stated in the competency pack in order to jointly plan future improvement.

What is the purpose of appraisal?

To produce plans for the improved performance of the staff member
To identify staff members’ training needs
To assist with the long term development of the staff member
To assist the manager with succession planning
To improve communication and understanding between the manager and staff member
To help the manager identify possible areas for improvement in his/her own performance

What should an appraisal not to be?

A one-way conversation from manager to employee
A salary discussion
A surprise or contain any major surprises
A disciplinary interview
A character assassination
A secret report

What are the Benefits?

For the Company

For the Manager

For the Individual

Identifies company training needs

Assists to progress towards company objectives

Increases sales and profitability

Aids recruitment

Assists succession planning

Encourages loyalty and stability

Improved rapport with staff members

Improved performance within unit

Makes delegation easier

Identifies training needs

Assist with succession planning

Ensures common direction within unit

Removes barriers/obstructions

Improved communication skills

Development of management skills

Improved morale and motivation

Increased feeling of security

More self-confidence

Improved rapport with manager

Greater incentive to perform well

Chance to discuss future career

Opportunity to discuss training and development needs

What are competencies?

Competencies are behaviours and underlying characteristics necessary for and individual to perform to an acceptable standard in their role.

Why do we use competencies?

Competencies provide a structured way of describing behaviour. Providing a common language for the organisation. They form the basis for consistent development, assessment, and focus all employees’ efforts in the same direction, thus, ensuring all Managers appraise consistently across the business.

Competencies help link principle accountabilities and performance objectives with the behaviours required to achieve them, assisting the Manager in providing constructive feedback to the employee. In addition, an employee’s key development needs can be assessed in relation to the role, identifying what training and development is required. They help employees to understand precisely what they need to do to improve and maintain their performance.

How should the Competency Pack be used?

As you will see from the competency pack, there are two competency grids, one for Selling and one for Selling Support. The pack contains an information sheet, a competency grid and a copy of all competencies. You use the competency grid to identify those competencies that are relevant to your job role and Managers should use it to identify those competencies that are relevant to the role they are assessing. The grid should also be used to identify the acceptable level performance indicator relevant to your job role and for Managers relevant to the job role they are assessing.

Each competency has a full definition, which outlines the overall behavioural expectation for the competencies and four performance indicators. The performance indicators are supported by examples of the sort of behaviour that you would expect to be demonstrated for that level, these can be expanded upon at your discretion. The behaviours are cumulative, that is they build on each other, from bottom to top. For example, in order to be assessed at performance indicator 4 an individual must show evidence of competence from performance indicators 2 and 3. Each acceptable level represents the expected behaviour for a particular job role, and as such not one acceptable level is “better” than another.

Using the Competency Pack for your Job Role

As stated above you should identify those competencies and the acceptable level performance indicators relevant to your job role. Once you have identified the acceptable level performance indicator, you should be aware of the acceptable level of performance required to carry out your principle accountabilities. If there are competencies that you feel require development, you should discuss these with your Manager in order to organise your training/coaching requirements.

Using the Competency Pack when carrying out an Appraisal

You should identify competencies that are relevant to the role you are assessing along with the acceptable levels of performance. Working through each competency one by one think of specific examples where the individual has displayed the behaviours described or behaviours similar to these. Using the “Justification of Grades and Comments” box on the appraisal form, note any elements of the competency on which you feel that the appraisee is particularly strong or those where there is opportunity for improvement or a development need.

Conducting An Appraisal

The appraisal interview should be structured in the same way as any other type of interview; the only difference is the emphasis of the discussion. There are 4 stages to structure and interview “W A S P”.

Welcome – Acquire Information – Supply Information – Plan

What should the “Welcome” stage include?

Small talk to put the staff member at ease
Thanks for their time and for their preparation
Stress that it is a positive exercise
Emphasis that both the conversation and the completed form are confidential
Explain the format i.e. working through the form, open discussion, you will be taking notes etc.
Mention any domestics, i.e. toilet, smoking, time etc.

Ask: What should the “Acquire Information” stage include?

Their feeling about their performance
Their opinions about their strengths weaknesses
Their feelings about their job
Whether they feel they have achieved their objectives and if not, why not
Details of any skills not being used in their current job
Their thoughts on future career development
Their ideas on their training and development needs

What sort of questions will encourage
appraises to give us information and to self assess?

Open questions

What sort of questions could you ask to obtain the appraisee’s feelings about their performance?

  • What was your most successful area in the past year?
  • Which areas of your work would you say require more attention?
  • “How have you found your dealings with other departments/staff have been?”
  • “What have been the most difficult problems you have faced?” etc

What sort of questions could you ask to obtain the appraisee’s opinions about the job?

  • “What was the most interesting task you had this year?”
  • “Which parts of your job do you find tiresome?”
  • “How do you see your job developing?” etc

What sort of questions could you ask to find out the appraisee’s thoughts on future career development?

  • “Where do you see your future in the company?”
  • “What long-term ambitions do you have?” etc

What sort of questions could you ask to find out the appraisee’s ideas on their training and development needs?

  • “What extra help do you need to improve in the areas you have struggled in?”
  • “What do you think you need to learn now to develop your job further?” etc

What sort of probing questions might you ask?

  • “How do you mean?”
  • “What makes you say that?”
  • “Why do you think that happened?” etc

What sort of interpreting questions might you ask?

  • “You seem a little anxious about the prospect”
  • “You seem rather bitter about that incident”
  • “From what you are saying, you really enjoyed having a change”

How can you show by your body language that you are actively listening?

  • Facing the appraise
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Keeping an open posture
  • Leaning slightly forward
  • Staying relatively relaxed

How can you ensure that you are listening to what is being said?

  • Keeping an open mind
  • Analysing and evaluating the messages
  • Getting the full story
  • Not interrupting
  • Not talking for more than about a quarter of the time

How can you ensure that you are noticing all the signals?

  • Interpreting the person’s tone of voice, e.g. hesitant, angry
  • Evaluating any non-verbal signals, e.g. avoiding eye contact fidgeting folded arms etc

How can you ensure that you are aware of what is not being said?

  • Listening “between the lines”
  • Searching for possible gaps in your understanding
  • Asking the right questions

Returning to our “WASP” interview structure, what should the “supply information” stage include?

  • Praise for any areas not already covered
  • New or revised objectives for next period
  • Consider any training and development needs not already covered

What should the “plan/part” stage at the end of the appraisal include?

  • Gaining the appraisee’s commitment to improve performance in identified problem areas.
  • Stating you commitment to help improve performance by providing training, altering procedures or duties etc
  • Setting dates/times for following up short term goals
  • Thanking the appraisee for their time and openness.

Making sure the appraisal interview is effective

What follow up actions are necessary on your part to make sure the appraisal interview is effective?

  • Check achievement of short term goals on dates stated
  • Monitor performance to ensure improvement
  • Praise performance where improvement is identified
  • Ensure agreed training and development is carried out
  • Carry out any other agreed activities
  • Continue communication with staff member to maintain established rapport


The key points involved in ensuring an effective and enjoyable appraisal of your staff member are:

  • Remember what the purposes of appraisal are
  • Remember what an appraisal does not is
  • Prepare fully for the appraisal – If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!
  • Follow the WASP structure – welcome, acquire information, supply information, plan/part
  • Use good question techniques to encourage self-assessment
  • Always follow up the appraisal

By following the guidelines discussed during this session you will find that the appraisals you tend to put off will become a learning experience for you as you develop skills, which will be useful in all types of interviews including recruitment, disciplinary and grievance as well as appraisal.

Tips and Tricks

Getting the “welcome” right will ensure that you start on the right footing, although it is imperative that the appraisal does not become so relaxed and casual that the interview becomes a joke.

We often worry about conducting appraisals because we are afraid of getting a bad reaction from the staff member to any criticism. The best way around this is to ask appraises to assess their own performance – people are often more critical of themselves than we except!

Rudyard Kipling said ” I had six loyal serving men, they taught me all I know, their names were How and Why, and When and What, and Where and Who”.

Probing questions, used to gain further information, will enable you to open up the appraisal discussion still further and to get to the root of any problems.

Interpreting questions can be used if you pick up signals from the appraisee that they want to talk in more detail about something.

You can only make use of interpreting questions if you are actively listening to what the appraise is saying to you so that you can pick up on these signals.

As well as showing that you are physically attending to the appraise, you have to psychologically attend to them as well, which involves listening to what is not being said.

Remember the appraisal is not a “tell” situation, and remember to use your question techniques to encourage the appraisee to assess their own performance themselves.

It is not always possible to get the appraisee to identify for themselves certain weaknesses, which you need to discuss. In this case you need to use your question technique again, but use facts to remind the appraise of a situation where their performance was lacking.

It is not always possible to get the appraisee to identify for themselves certain weaknesses, which you need to discuss. In this case you need to use your question technique again, but use facts to remind the appraisee of a situation where their performance was lacking.


  • “What action did you take when the lady last week complained about the soup?”
  • “Why did the chef get upset with you during the service last Saturday night?”
  • “What caused the mix-up between the drinks orders on table 10 and table 11 yesterday?”

Throughout the acquire and supply information stages the “praise sandwich” technique should be used of alternating the identification and discussion of negative points, with praise for positive points identified so that the appraise does not become demotivated.

It is essential to make sure that all the time and effort that goes into a successful appraisal interview is not wasted by failing to follow
up afterwards when back at work.