How to make performance appraisals easier

There are many small business owners who hate doing appraisals with their staff. 😡

This is often because they’re super-busy. After all, appraisals take time to prepare for. They also take time to deliver. And sometimes, they involve having difficult conversations, which is never nice.

However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that appraisals are a fabulous way to build loyalty and engagement. They also help you to get the very best from your team. Which in turn, will benefit your business.

Remember, the whole point of an appraisal is to spell out what your expectations are and to make sure you get those expectations met.

My tried and tested approach is below. Armed with this, you’ll hopefully stop feeling like appraisals are a grind and instead, see them as a way to get the best from your staff. 👍


When you run a business, you establish a rhythm for doing these things. And you probably have set processes and dates for accomplishing these tasks.

This is exactly how you should approach appraisals. Build them into your business cycle and get them in the diary from the start of the year.

At the very least, do the following:

Appraisal number one (January or April)

Set performance goals with your employees at the start of a new year (calendar or financial).

Appraisal number two (June or October)

Mid-way through the year, review progress against these performance goals. Take action to make them become a reality, while you still have time!

Appraisal number three (December or March)

Look back and assess what’s been achieved all year, and how.


No matter what size your business is, or how many staff you employ, performance goals are essential. Without them, how do your employees know what you expect from them? 

They also take the pain out of not knowing what to say in an appraisal. Plus, they force you to be objective in your assessment of your employee.

Articulate these at the start of either a calendar or financial year. Or indeed, when a new hire starts working for you.

My advice is to keep them super-smart…



A 20% increase in social media engagement



To be measured by the number of followers we gain



This feels attainable, because last year we grew followers by 15%



This sits nicely with their role, as they’re writing our digital content



The 20% increase should be achieved by January 2022

🔥 HOT TIP🔥 For more advice on goal setting for appraisals, read a blog I wrote called: OKRS OR KPIS? WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO BOOST TEAM PERFORMANCE?


It’s not good enough for your employees to rock up to an appraisal and expect you to have done all the hard work. If the appraisal is in the diary, they know it’s happening, and therefore they shouldn’t be playing a passive role. 

In my experience, this is why many leaders resent doing appraisals. They feel as if the responsibility is all on their shoulders. But, it shouldn’t be. 🙅

As the boss, you need to spell out what preparation you want your employee to do. If their goals are SMART, then they should be able to show you how they’re doing against them. You might also want to ask them to consider what they feel is going well, and what help they need from you.


Don’t wait until an appraisal to give your employee feedback. Timely, on-the-spot feedback is SOOO important, because:

👍 It allows you to nip performance issues in the bud

👍 It helps your employees to get better at what they do

👍 It creates an environment of continuous improvement

👍 It sets you apart as the boss


During your appraisal, remember to dedicate a bit of time to celebrating your employee’s achievements. 

This will not only make them feel amazing, but it’ll also encourage them to go above and beyond for you in the future.

You can reward their success with a verbal thank-you, a gift, or even extra responsibility.


On the other hand, if there’s something you’re not happy with, you must call it out.

Letting poor behaviour or below average work go unchecked will cause resentment. It also sends a powerful message to the rest of your staff, that you’re okay with it.

Having honest conversations is hard. That’s why I dedicated an entire blog to it. It’s called: HOW DO I TELL MY EMPLOYEE THEY AREN'T PERFORMING, WITHOUT MAKING THE SITUATION WORSE?


Your appraisals process only works if you’ve got the right paperwork in place to support it. 

I’m talking:

👉 HR policies that explain how you reward great work and what you do when performance or behaviour is below par

👉 Forms to help you and your staff prepare for appraisals

👉 Guides to help steer and record the conversations

👉 Email templates to communicate with your employees about their appraisals

👉 Feedback forms to make sure your appraisal process is working

This kind of paperwork helps you to document everything that’s been said and the agreements you’ve made. That way, everyone knows where they stand! It also helps you to be consistent and fair with all your staff.

For high-quality HR templates that are legally compliant and customisable, head over to my online shop 🛒 where you’ll find:


😱 Some small business owners loathe doing appraisals, because they take up time and invariably involve having the ‘tough talks’ that most people like to avoid!

🌀 However, if you incorporate appraisals into the rhythm of your business – rather than as an additional ‘nice to have’ – they become much easier to manage

🥅 Appraisals should be centred around the performance goals you’ve set from the outset

💬 They’re only successful if both parties participate. Your employee shouldn’t be playing a passive part in their own appraisal

🏆 Appraisals are the perfect opportunity to acknowledge great work, as well as having honest conversations about performance

🗣 And, it’s important to give feedback to your employees outside of their appraisals too

📑 Having robust paperwork in place to support your appraisals makes all the difference 

🛒 All of which you can pick up from my online shop!

There are tasks in your business that you must do. 👉 Pay your employees. Settle supplier invoices. Do your tax returns. Issue monthly reports. Be present on social media. 


  • Book a free consultation with Mandy here, to learn more about us working together.

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