Appraisals are often seen as a necessary evil for many small employers, they know its the right thing to do but worry about getting involved in conversations about pay or fear criticising key members of their team. Here are some simple things to remember when planning and undertaking any appraisal.

Tip 1 – keep pay out of it

The appraisal is a review of performance and a chance to share whats happening in the company – by including a discussion on pay it changes the dynamic of the conversation, and confrontation increases as employees often have a higher evaluation of their own performance than is necessarily true. Make it clear the appraisal is purely an opportunity to review performance and agree objectives going forward – the implied message is if performance increases then it will look favourable when it comes to pay reviews.

Tip 2 – be honest

Don’t shy away from touch messages and hard conversations.  If things have not been going well with a staff member state your concerns early in the conversation.  The intention is to avoid sugar coated pills – whereby the employer shy’s away from the hard conversation until the end of the meeting and spends most of the time saying how good the employee is and then drops a bombshell.

Tip 3 – do it for a reason

Some employers see appraisals as the right thing to do but are not sure why they are doing it.  An appraisal is a chance to discuss with the employee what’s happening in the business, how they have performed and what needs to happen going forward.  Good appraisals are based on clear business needs which could include – fixing under performance, improving communication or motivating the team during a difficult time.

Tip 4 – hold them when needed

Try and avoid the trap of leaving 12 months between each appraisal – lets face it 12 months is a long time and the possibility of any employee remembering what was said in January when its November is unlikely.  At the minimum appraisals should be held twice a year and if an employee is really struggling you may even do it monthly.  They needn’t take long – an appraisal could only take 20 mins if its just a catch up.

Tip 5 – avoid long boring forms

The worst appraisal is the boring appraisal, the employer is stuck with a form full of white spaces and the employee doesn’t know what to say.  Keep the appraisal short and focused around whats important.  The most significant part of the form should be where you agree what needs to get better and when its going to be done by.