Appraisal time?

Many of our lovely Zoomly clients seem to be having an appraisal moment. Either they’re wading heroically through them right now or holding their breath for a clear run at them in January. I’m often surprised at just how many appraisals some of our more senior clients have to do – and often at a very busy point in the year. And the ‘appraisee’ may also be run ragged and thus fall into the trap of turning up for the discussion unprepared.

Here are 7 tips to help you if you’re the ‘appraiser’ and 7 if you’re the ‘appraisee’ – and if you’re both, well then you get 14.


If you’re the ‘appraiser’


  1. Dig out the appraisee’s last appraisal. Yes really basic, I know. And astonishingly it’s often forgotten.
  2. Take a long look. Meaning look at a longer time-frame than the one you’re used to working with on a day-in-week-out basis. Remember this is over a whole year of someone’s career. They may have had a brilliant Summer. And a less-than-brilliant Spring. So look at the overall picture.
  3. Get clear on the person’s strengths. What are they really good at? Often your starting point can be one of, “Right, they’re ok, but they need to be better at…” Please stop and think of what they’re doing well. Appraisal time is when this should be formally recorded.
  4. Get specific examples. If you think they could use some help with their contribution in meetings, have some no-wriggle-room examples of when they fell short of expectations.
  5. Get others’ input. Ideally your system gets you doing this anyway. Be sure to get input from colleagues at different levels in the organisation and from different departments / disciplines. And from external sources such as clients and suppliers.
  6. No nasty surprises. Shame on you if you’ve been saving up that slide show howler until now. Good managers deal with issues as they happen. Only if performance gaps persist should they be noted in appraisals.
  7. Get specific about the steps to the next role. If you think your appraisee will be pushing for promotion, put yourself back in that position. What actions did you take to get the next role up? Sometimes we have no idea of what’s really needed to perform at the next level. So you can really help out here by getting crystal clear on the behaviour that will make a difference.


If you’re the ‘appraisee’


  1. Get your examples together. You need evidence to back up your claims that you’re great at presentations or writing proposals.
  2. Go through your calendar. Most of us can’t remember what we had for dinner 4 nights ago, so how on earth else can you recall what you’ve actually done in the past 12 months?
  3. Gather some killer stats – such as how many ideas you’ve come up with, the number of views of your blog posts, how many calls you’ve made to prospective clients, what percentage of the ideas you’ve presented that got bought.
  4. Look at your last appraisal. And I do hope that the run-up to your next one isn’t the first time you’ve referred to it… Check that you’ve achieved the objectives and match your examples to them.
  5. Plot some ‘then and now’ examples of where you were and what you were doing 12 months ago compared to where you are now.
  6. Note the training that you’ve done – either formally such as a course or informally like being mentored – and itemise it, along with lessons learned and how it has helped you improve your performance.
  7. Draft a self-appraisal using your organisation’s form. Some employers ask all appraisees to do this anyway and quite right: not doing it means you’ve gone passive, like a school kid waiting for the teacher’s report. Get involved: you’re not at school now.

You might find this blog post interesting, ‘Appraisals – dump them or definitely keep them?’

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