Performance Appraisals-Some Structure Tips to Follow

Managing Performance Appraisals

By Wolf Gugler


When it comes to performance appraisals, do your employees have to hound you for one? Is it just a paper processing exercise in order to give them an annual salary increase, or is there a true developmental purpose behind it?

One of the most overlooked management areas is answering the employee who asks, “How am I doing?”…but answering that and providing meaningful feedback is one of the best things you can do to ensure they do a good job for you and become a productive, long-term employee. Here are a few ideas to make this a positive experience, one that both sides look forward to.



  • review previous performance appraisals, complimentary letters, course transcripts, and records of performance, discipline and everything that relates to performance.
  • Use a performance appraisal form to keep the meeting on track. organize your papers in the sequence you intend to cover them. Ideally you;d use a self-evaluation form given to the employee in advance of the meering. It’s a fact that people are usually harder on themselves than others are, and will typically work harder at resolving these self identified problems.
  • Make sure this takes place as a two-way dialogue, not a debate.


  • ensure the setting is private and distraction-free. Don’t take phone calls and let the person know what time the meeting will end, so they’re aware there’s an end in sight.
  • Ensure the room layout conveys a relaxed atmosphere. A restaurant is inappropriate; a meeting room, ideally with armchairs is much better than sitting across the Boss’s desk from him/her. If using a conference table, sit at 90 degrees from one another vs. across the table in what can be perceived as a barrier to open conversation.



  • start with a smile and greeting, and relax your employee. Chances are they’re nervous and have sweaty palm syndrome. Set the scene; explain the process and encourage input and discussion. Let them know what time it will conclude, so they don’t feel like this will be an open-ended interrogation.


Review and evaluate;

  • review individual tasks, objectives—and stay focused. Use facts and figures, not “woulda-coulda-shoulda” excuses or unsubstantiated anecdotal stories. Staying objective and avoiding being perceived as biased will gain you far more credibility and effort from the employee in the long run.
  • Resist appraising them based on your own style; stick with the facts and figures. Review each item, communicating the standard or measure of performance being used and their ranking. If you don’t have these facts in hand, don’t wing it; reschedule the meeting until you do have the data. If a dispute arises about a specific area, table it for future discussion to allow you to obtain more information to make a factual judgment.


Devise a mutually agreed-upon action plan.

  • The plan should include a brief job description with responsibilities, strengths and constructive areas of development, a short/medium/long term action plan and the individual’s career goals and objectives. Make it realistic and attainable. Agree on what support the company will provide to ensure the employee’s success…additional on the job training, courses, workshops and any other company-provided assistance. If the company expenditure requires your Supervisor’s approval, make sure you have this prior to the meeting.


Close on a positive note.

  • Thank the employee for their input, and make sure they know you look forward to working with them to ensure the next appraisal meeting is just as positive, or even more so that this one was. Let them know your door is open if they have any further questions, and this is meant to be a win-win situation.


Document, document, document!

  • Record all primary points discussed and agreed-to performance issues, actions required to rectify them and the agreed-to timetable involved. Copy all appropriate departments and maintain a copy in the employee’s file.


Following a template similar to this one should help you develop loyal employees who are both top performers and accountable for their actions.


Wolf is President, Wolf Gugler & Associates Limited, specializing in executive search and management appraisals for clients throughout North America and the Caribbean with offices in the United States and Canada. He can be reached at (888) 848-3006 or email, wolf@wolfgugler.com. Web site: www.wolfgugler.com.



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