Performance appraisals are an
effective tool for informing
employees about the quality of
their work and for identifying
areas of their performance which
may require improvement. Although poorly
handled performance appraisals can create
a negative and intimidating experience for
the employee, they can be constructive and
positive if handled well.
Effective performance appraisals can
lead to high performance, and therefore
increased productivity. Where an
employee’s performance does not improve,
the performance appraisal process can also
be utilised as evidence in any subsequent
defence to an unfair dismissal claim.
Below are some best practice strategies
on how to conduct a performance appraisal.
1. Be prepared
Ensure that you are well prepared for
performance appraisal by considering the
employee’s past performance appraisals,
training records and other objective
evidence of performance (e.g. attendance
records, billings, customer feedback, error
rates). If necessary, obtain feedback from
The employee should also be given
adequate time to complete a self assessment
of their own performance.
You should be prepared to answer any
questions that the employee could potentially
ask, and be ready to discuss remuneration
and career progression.
2. Never ambush the employee
The performance appraisal should not be
viewed as an isolated event at which an
employee is given feedback about their
performance, particularly if the feedback is
negative. Employees should be given
constructive and regular feedback throughout
the year and this should be documented.
3. Balance: don’t just focus on the
In any discussion with the employee, both the
positive and negative aspects of the
employee’s performance should be
discussed. Giving behaviour based examples
is good practice. The employee should be
given objective and constructive feedback
and an opportunity to respond, for example,
to mention any mitigating circumstances.
Encourage the employee to do most of
the talking, as an effective appraisal allows
the employee to take responsibility for their
own performance and growth.
Together, explore strategies to improve
the employee’s performance and set relevant
objectives for the year ahead. Where
previous objectives have not been met,
identify why they were not met and develop
a plan to ensure they will be met.
Take the time to review the employee’s
positive attributes that occurred during the
review period, and consider how they can be
applied to help the employee improve in those
areas where a change in behaviour is desired.
Ensure that the employee understands
what is required of them and has been able
to raise any concerns or issues.
4. Follow up
Ensure that you follow up the employee’s
progress against the objectives that were set
within a reasonable period of time. Provide
employees with regular updates on their
performance, but not in a way that is
overbearing and leads to the employee
feeling stressed, and becoming unproductive.
Keep records of the discussion and any
decisions that were made. Also, don’t
give the employee high scores or a
glowing performance review if there are
genuine performance issues. Remember
the performance appraisal can be utilised
– Jennifer Teh, Lawyer, Australian Business Lawyers