Performance Appraisals – Tips and Advice

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 9 October 2020
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered: Performance Appraisal; Virtual Meetings

Although traditionally the start of a new year is the time most companies conduct appraisals, given the fact that most organisations have had to review their short term goals and long term strategy, conducting appraisals is something that should be considered at this time. 

The appraisals process benefits staff, management and the business as it allows for clear communication in a two-way process where both parties have equal opportunity to discuss the role, work performance, objectives and future goals.

Because many organisations’ goals have changed, it’s more important than ever to ensure that all employees are fully aware of this and any impact that it may have in their role and their individual objectives.

Ordinarily, the first part of an appraisal involves assessing the employee’s performance against key objectives set at the previous appraisal.  While this has no doubt been impacted given the current circumstance, it is still beneficial to discuss this and to ask the question “what went well?”

Although some objectives won’t have been met, it is worth assessing exactly why this it and discussing what can be done to try to get back on track.  Some objectives may still be salvageable with some innovative thinking and suggestions, so it’s important to question if this is the case, before writing everything off to “Covid”.

The actual appraisal process itself should remain the same.  Employees should get advance notice of the meeting and should be provided with the necessary appraisal form to complete in advance to prepare a review of their own performance.

Once staff have completed the appraisal form and returned it to management it should then be reviewed and assessed by the appraiser.  The appraiser should review how the employee has rated their skills, performance etc. and the appraiser should prepare their own review of the employee’s performance in advance of the meeting.

When conducting the meeting via a virtual means if necessary, both parties should be honest and fair in their review and feedback.

The next element of the performance appraisal is setting clear, relevant and achievable goals for the year ahead, or a shorter period if necessary and these should be agreed by both parties prior to the meeting concluding.

It’s important to ensure that employees have a full understanding of why specific goals are being set, particularly if they vary greatly from previous year’s goals.  For example, an employee with a focus on service delivery may never have had goals in relation to sales generation, but given the current climate, this may be a key objective for everyone in every area of the business to ensure future success or sometimes even viability.

At least one meeting (virtually if necessary, to adhere to government guidelines) should take place during the year to review the progress of the goals. Following the correct process and using the right performance review forms ensures consistency in the process.

Conducting performance appraisals in your business has numerous advantages - it enables a structured framework to record feedback, it allows the appraiser to receive feedback and to give feedback to the employees on past performance and to set out objectives for the future.  It allows the opportunity to identify training needs and to give employees an opportunity to improve.  It has positive effects such as improving staff motivation, performance and commitment to the company.  It has been a challenging year for businesses, but also for employees so an appraisal meeting is a great opportunity to provide feedback and encouragement to all.

The appraiser needs to have the skills, qualities and knowledge to conduct the review. Asking the right questions is essential. The appraiser should be asked to be open and honest and ask questions and give feedback – they should talk 70% versus 30% appraiser.  Useful questions to ask during the process include open questions which encourage them to talk “how do you feel you are getting on”.  Probing questions should also be used, and these questions provide specifics, uncover feelings and attitudes “Tell me more about working on that project”.  Now, more than ever, employers and managers need to be aware of the areas that staff are having difficulty with and put a plan in place to provide support if necessary.

A constructive appraisal review has the following characteristics.  Achievement is recognised and reinforced.  Past performance is reviewed.  The appraiser listens actively.  There is honest and open discussion, reflection and analysis. Action plans are agreed jointly.

It is important to remember that the review meeting is only a small part of the process which should be occurring continually throughout the year.  Managers and staff should continually review their progress against goals, make adjustments as necessary, and recognise achievements.  Managers should give their team feedback to ensure that the organisation gets the most out of their most valuable resource – their people.

If you are an organisation based in the Republic of Ireland and require further information or advice relating to HR, please do not hesitate to contact The HR Suite office on (066)7102887.

This article is correct at 25/11/2020

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email

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