10 easy steps to conducting appraisals for your team

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Posted: Dec 2020

Getting appraisals right this year will be more important than ever for your business. After nearly a year of remote working, less face-to-face meetings and very little organic learning, if any, it is no surprise that many employees have been left feeling demotivated and frustrated.

The findings from our annual Salary Guide demonstrate, once again, that the main reason corporate communications professionals leave their jobs is that they don’t feel they have a clear career path.  They feel stale and in a career rut. As we draw closer to appraisal time, make sure to reflect on what motivates and drives your team. A promotion and a pay rise may recognise their work efforts, but don’t overlook the need to energise you team and propel them to achieve their goals. 

Today, we share our top 10 steps to appraisal success:

  1. Understand the job: Begin by ensuring that you and your team are clear about their individual role and objectives. This will give them better context, improved perspective, and will give you a foundation for setting goals.
  2. Keep on top of things: Are you appraising your people often enough? Think about increasing your appraisals to once every six months to be sure that your team are all pulling in the same direction (you may also wish to consider monthly or bi-monthly reviews in between). By doing this, you can make small tweaks and adjustments in line with departmental objectives and avoid nasty surprises. Remember: Don’t wait for an appraisal to tackle poor performance.
  3. Listen: Give the appraisee an opportunity to talk and take the time to fully listen to them. Overall, they should be speaking more than you are.
  4. Stay relaxed: You won’t get what you need from someone who is anxious, nervous or tense so find an environment that is conducive to open discussion. Simple rapport techniques will help, so be positive and encourage the appraisee to speak. The meeting should be held somewhere that is relatively private where there are not likely to be interruptions or distractions. Switch off your phone. Don’t check your e-mails. Smile and make eye contact.
  5. Targets, KPIs and Objectives: Make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. The aims of the individual should be linked to departmental or company goals. Most successful businesses have a well-defined company vision that is known and understood by all personnel, so use the appraisal to reinforce these values. Working as a group, towards a common goal is a powerful motivator - be positive about the importance of the role of the individual in helping the team as a whole. Explain and discuss how and why specific objectives are in place and what you and the team member aim to accomplish.
  6. Keep it simple: When considering targets, have three or four key things to accomplish rather than overwhelming your team with long lists of points.
  7. Be objective: Reflect on the performance of each team member as objectively as possible. Remember that this is time to consider their work over a period of time. Don’t let your judgement be coloured by something niggly that has happened in recent days or weeks. Ideally take notes about things you’d like to raise between appraisals.
  8. Requests for a pay rise, training or promotion: Although an appraisal is the right forum to discuss requests of this sort, you shouldn’t feel under pressure to agree anything on the spot. Ask for reasons and examples to support the request and take the information away for consideration.
  9. Delivering bad news: It’s never easy, but it has to be done. If you need to be critical or discuss poor performance, be clear and constructive. Make your point and support it with examples. Allow the appraisee time to respond. Turn the negative into a positive with a planned framework for improved performance and assure the individual that this is something you can work through together. At the end of the discussion recap on the salient points so there is no room for misinterpretation.
  10. Appraisal notes: Write them up quickly while everything is fresh in your mind. Ensure that all points are agreed by both parties and ideally signed by all involved. Appraisal notes should be kept confidential.

Taking the time to get your appraisals right will help boost morale, engage your teams and improve productivity.

The Works Search a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email

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