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Performance Appraisal Form - Best Practices

Download a free sample performance appraisal form and use the guidelines in the performance appraisal examples articles to conduct a successful employee performance review

If you just want to download a sample performance appraisal form you can do so here. However, before you do so, do take the time to glance through this article.


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An employee performance review is so much more than the sitting down and getting the paperwork done! The performance appraisal form is simply a guide to help you structure the discussion. Along with keeping a record you can refer to later.


The formal performance review discussion doesn't replace "day to day" feedback and discussions. Rather it is the formal step in an ongoing dialogue between a team member, and his or her team leader. 


Sure it provides the opportunity to air any concerns and talk about career moves, explore learning opportunities and set goals for the year ahead. However you should have been doing this throughout the year. Here are a few ideas to help you ensure your appraisal process isn't a complete failure!


If You Don't Have a Bank of Trust With Your Team Members You are Going to Have Problems

The best performance feedback discussions happen within an atmosphere of trust. Hopefully, you have built that trust throughout the year through your daily coaching and the type of leader you are.


You've got a better chance at success in the performance appraisal discussion when:

  • the team member completes a self-appraisal first. More details available on the employee performance appraisal page  
  • the team members comes to the meeting with the mindset that she or he is responsible for improving his or her performance. More information on the employee performance review page

And, if you want to take this to a new level, consider using a no rating performance appraisal. Research tells us there are loads of downsides to appraisals and limited upsides. This article provides some great research examples of why you want to rethink your performance appraisal process.


Unfortunately, even when research shows us that appraisals cost more than they're worth, organizations continue to insist upon performance appraisals. 


A no rating performance appraisal helps you to avoid some of the downsides that ratings bring. It also enables you to move you from a broken, 20th-century performance management technique, into something that meets the needs of 21st-century team members.

Talk About Weaknesses in Terms of Needs and Learning Opportunities

The best performing organizations use the research Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton described in their book, "Now Discover Your Strengths". 


The research shows that the best-performing people and organizations focus on people's strengths and look for ways to work around people's weaknesses. Rather than trying to get them to 'fix' their weaknesses.

Listen More and Talk Less

Your focus and mindset should be one of curiosity. Your goal is to understand your team member's perspective and strengthen the relationship between you.


Listen carefully. Summarize regularly what they have said.


Then work together to come up with ideas and plans, that enable the team member to improve his or her performance.

Be Careful of Pre-Judging

You may not have all the relevant information and facts until you have heard the team member's point of view. Plan the important messages that you want to get across. But stay open to the fact that your perspective may well shift, once you have listened to your team member.

Get Coaching on Bringing Up 'Tricky' Subjects.

If appropriate, you may wish to discuss with a colleague or your manager, your approach to discussing a topic that has the potential to be 'sticky'. 


Input from others could make your task easier. As they may have had to tackle a similar situation in the past. Or maybe, could see how you might inflame things with the wrong approach or the wrong choice of words.

However, it does go without saying that in the performance appraisal there should be no 'new news'! 


If you haven't previously discussed a performance issue with one of your team members, you've failed as a leader. You can't duck and weave away from that.

If you have avoided giving feedback throughout the year because you don't have the skills, then access any one of these three trainings:

Successful Feedback
Solutions Focused Coaching
One-on-One Meetings

Preparing for the Discussion

As you are preparing for the discussion, some areas to think about are:

  • The team member's current job priorities and how they may have changed in the past 12 months
  • How job priorities might change in the coming 12 months
  • How they have performed against agreed goals and development activities since the last appraisal period
  • Changes that are coming up and how to best prepare for the changes
  • Feedback you have received from others (be VERY careful with this one. With my clients and in Successful Feedback, I reiterate many times that you should never give third-hand feedback.)
  • Any plans (e.g. promotion opportunities, or new projects) coming up that you have lined up for the team member - but don't make any promises or indications that you can't keep!

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