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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 4

Hold the appraisal

  • Make clear the purpose of the meeting and how it will run.
  • Go through the first objective and open up a discussion. What has the employee done? What have they done well? What would they like to develop?
  • Listen - not only to help target your management of them regarding the objective, but to pick up on any good ideas they may have, or concerns.
  • Highlight positive - and, where necessary, negative - aspects of performance
  • Do this for each of the objectives.
  • Also, be flexible - the conversation between you and your employee may open up into other areas. They may take the opportunity to tell you about a difficult situation at home - for example, caring for an elderly relative.

If they raise a personal problem affecting their work, deal with it there and then if you can. But if you need time to consider the matter or seek advice on what you can do at work to help, suggest a separate meeting as soon as possible to talk it through and try to find a way forward.

  • Agree development needs and target dates, and actions concerning objectives, including any new objectives, and target dates over the next 12 months.
  • Fill in the appraisal form and action plan as you go along.
  • Give the employee the opportunity to write comments on the form.
  • After the appraisal, the completed form and action plan, should be signed and dated by the employee, the manager who conducted the appraisal, and a senior manager.

One copy should be kept by the appraiser, one by the employee, and another should go on the employee's personal file.

The aims of an appraisal are to regularly monitor and record:

  • An assessment of an employee's performance, looking back at the quality and volume of the work they've done over a set period and how they did it; and giving feedback.
  • A brief look forward to the tasks and agreed goals ahead, and giving them direction.
  • Agreement with the employee about learning and development needs, and how they can be met through on-the-job coaching, training, wider experience or background reading
  • The employee's potential and their aspirations.
  • Some employers also give an employee an overall rating against an agreed scale, such as:
    • outstanding
    • standard
    • less than standard with development needs
    • unsatisfactory.

But remember that unsatisfactory performance may be caused by an ineffective induction programme or a need for more training or equipment.

However, if your induction programme is sound, and the employee has had the right level of coaching and training, what should you do next? Go to How to get the best out of your staff - Step 5.

How did the appraisal go?

It's worth assessing, as they can be difficult to handle, especially if you have not been giving the employee regular feedback and they are surprised - or disappointed - by what you have to say. Acas also offers training in Challenging conversations and how to manage them .

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