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Help for small firms

How to get the best out of your staff: A step-by-step guide

How to get the best out of your staff - Step 3

Get ready for the appraisal

  • At the employee's induction, or when you introduce staff appraisals, briefly run through the paperwork you will use, usually:
    • a pre-appraisal form from the employee highlighting matters they would like to discuss - that might include something the manager needs to prepare for before speaking with them in detail
    • the appraisal form to assess and record performance, and including an action plan for agreed objectives, development needs and target dates for the coming year (an example of a pre-appraisal form is available from our Managing staff useful forms section).
  • The number of regular performance update meetings in the run-up to the actual appraisal meeting varies from one employer to another. Some managers prefer monthly meetings, others quarterly.
  • Assessing how well an employee is meeting their objectives should also include daily or weekly on-the-job feedback, so they know how they are getting on.
  • If there has been feedback during the regular sessions over the 12 months leading up to the appraisal, you should know what you want to say and there should be no surprises.
  • Most employers hold the actual appraisal annually.
  • However, you cannot always anticipate an employee's response, so be fully prepared.
    • You should be keeping evidence of how the employee is doing - but try to focus on examples of good performance before addressing any shortcomings. And do you have all the evidence you need?
    • Are there any extenuating circumstances for any poor performance or conduct?
    • Just concentrate on work matters - do not make assumptions about the employee's personal life.
    • If you do need to raise concerns, are you confident you have the skills to hold a challenging conversation? Go to Acas guide Challenging conversations and how to manage them to find out more.
  • Set a date, time and place for the appraisal, and let the employee know well in advance.


Do not only turn to conducting an appraisal when there is a problem because:

  • this portrays the appraisal in a negative light when it should be a positive process that will help the employee and the business grow together
  • if used as a last resort, it is unlikely to work, as what is said by both sides may come as a surprise, cause disagreements and lead to the process breaking down.
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How to get the best out of your staff
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