A Small Business Guide to Performance Appraisals

A vital tool to keep employees motivated and focused, regular performance appraisals are essential in any business

A Small Business Guide to Performance Appraisals

What do I do before the meeting?

The self-assessment questionnaire

The first step in conducting a performance appraisal is giving the employee a self-assessment questionnaire well in advance of the meeting. This will encourage an employee to look critically at their own performance during the period.

Questions on the form will obviously vary depending on the role and seniority of the employee, but they should all take the form of open questions, such as:

How well do you feel you have performed over the period?

  • What were your key objectives and did you meet them?
  • What did you excel at?
  • What did you struggle with?
  • Where do you think you could improve?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Can you complete work on time?
  • Are you well organised?
  • Do you need constant oversight to keep motivated?

How well do you work in a team?

  • Do you get on well with others?

How do you feel about your job?

  • What do you find boring, or interesting?
  • Do you have any skills you feel are not being used?
  • How committed are you?
  • Do you feel the job supports your level of ambition?

How would you rate your manager’s performance (if applicable)?

  • Do they communicate well with you?
  • Do they set achievable goals?
  • Do they make you feel valued?
  • What do you think your objectives over the next period should be?
  • Do you need any special training to achieve them?
  • Do you feel ready for promotion or greater responsibility?


Preparing for the meeting

After you have sent out your questionnaire well ahead of time and received it back, it is time to think about preparing for the appraisal meeting itself.

To effectively prepare for a performance appraisal meeting, follow these steps:

  • Review the completed self-assessment questionnaire. From this, work out the most important issues and focus the appraisal on them.
  • Review the performance appraisal report from the previous appraisal (if any). Read on to learn how to produce one of these. Look at what objectives were agreed at the last meeting and whether or not they have been achieved.
  • Keep the big picture in mind. Keep your mind open to possibilities such as training or development that could improve an employee’s performance.
  • Work out objectives for the appraisal. For an under-performing employee, your objective will obviously be to improve performance, but in other situations it may be a little more complex – for example, if there is an employee with no chance of career advancement, how do you set out a plan to keep them motivated in the years ahead?
  • Gather evidence to back up the points you make. Put concrete examples together to add authority to your assertions and show the employee that your concerns are valid and reasonable.
  • Develop a meeting plan. Using the above, draft an agenda for the meeting. If you don’t know the employee well, ask someone who works more closely with them about the best approach.
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