Chapter Two: Five steps to build an effective appraisal process

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A Guide To Effective Performance AppraisalsDownload Your PDF Now!

Performance Appraisal Steps

  1. Determine goals
  2. Create criteria
  3. Select a group
  4. Design evaluation system
  5. Analyze results

1. Determine appraisal goals

Before we go into the intricate details of performance review questions, it’s essential to be clear about the goals of performance appraisals.

Instead, you’ll want to design the appraisals in a positive manner, and that means aligning them to the right goals. Start by asking how performance appraisals can add value to your employees and company. These are examples of 5 right reasons to conduct performance reviews.

Improve performance

You conduct performance appraisals to help your employees grow, both individually and as a team. Smart employees are open to constructive criticisms and recognitions where credits are due. Performance appraisal provides the opportunity for managers to help employees understand their weaknesses and strengths.

Uncover problems

Performance reviews enable a conducive channel for employees to air their grievances which they usually keep to themselves. When left unaddressed, these problems might affect their productivity and relationship with co- workers. Therefore, allow employees to speak their minds during the appraisals.

Goal alignment

Some employees tend to lose motivation over time, and it’s perfectly normal. Regular performance reviews serve as a feedback loop that creates a purposeful environment and brings focused energy to the workplace. Leaders measure employees’ performance against the KPI and OKR frameworks with an effective appraisal system. The results help employees to remain aligned and motivated with the predetermined goals.

Discover upskilling opportunities

Even seasoned professionals need to be competitive to adapt to fast- changing technologies. The performance appraisal process allows you to discover skill gaps amongst team members and address them accordingly. It gives you a better idea of whether signing up for training helps improve work performance.

Improve communication

Visionary leaders know that building great relationships within the organization is key to sustainable growth. They use performance reviews as an opportunity to break down silos that separate employees and senior executives. Managers get to know each employee as a unique person and strengthen bonds during the appraisals.

💡Key Takeaway

Performance appraisal was never about putting your employees down with punishment, criticism, or a dispiriting affair. When done with the wrong intention, they become wasteful sessions that rob employees of every ounce of their motivation. Negative feedback and penalties are detrimental to personal and professional growth.

Select a group

Next, you need to understand whom you would like to assess: which roles, positions, groups of employees.


If you are running a Performance Appraisal for the first time and your company is large, do not try to cover all employees at once (especially if there is no way to complete all stages in performance evaluation software). It is best to start with executive positions or those whose activities impact the company’s performance. After that, you can ‘spread’ the assessment to all personnel.

Each group of employees might have an individually set appraisal periodicity and a separate list of evaluation criteria.

3. Determine performance criteria

Performance criteria are basis for evaluating employees objectively. It promotes fairness, objectivity, and uniformity when appraising employees irrespective of their job scope, position, and business units. We recommend the following considerations when creating the appraisal criteria.

Quantitative vs. qualitative evaluation

Quantitative evaluates employees' performance through measurable metrics. For example, how many orders did the sales personnel bring in a month? Meanwhile, qualitative is subjective assessment through observations, interviews, and feedback. Both are equally valuable criteria that help managers gain a complete view of an employee's performance.

For example, you receive qualitative feedback, such as the orders, returns, and complaints. These metrics allow you to have an objective understanding of how employees fare in their job. But you'll need a qualitative evaluation to find out if your sales team is connected to the company's values.

Vertical vs. horizontal appraisal criteria

There are two ways to set up questions for a performance evaluation form — vertical and horizontal. Both approaches allow you to gain a different perspective of an employee during the appraisal.

A vertical appraisal involves setting in-depth criteria related to an employee's job scope. This means you'll need a superior or supervisor with sufficient knowledge about the workflow to set the questions. For example, you can't have an HR manager set vertical criteria for an app developer's assessment. This is because only the software team lead or senior developer knows about the finer details of the developer's job.

The horizontal approach is an evaluation with a broader scope and is relevant across different organizational divisions. To create horizontal appraisal criteria, you'll need to set up a team of different business unit managers. For example, the engineering manager creates a skill map and aligns them with those done by managers from other departments. They use the same criteria to evaluate employees fairly in their respective departments.

Create precise criteria

Regardless of the approach, it's essential to ensure the appraisal criteria aren't ambiguous. The managers should have clarity on what is being measured during the interview or in the questionnaire.

✅ Examples of clear criteria

  • The maximum amount of reported bugs/monthly
  • Number of projects delivered/annually
  • Number of closed deals/monthly

❌ Vague criteria to avoid

  • How well does the engineer perform?
  • How responsive are the customer support personnel?

4. Create a questionnaire

Use some ideas below of questions for inspiration and extend your appraisal questionnaire.

Skills related questions

  • In what area(s) could this person improve?
  • In what area(s) does this person excel?
  • To what degree appraisee’s level of technical skills and expertise meets your expectations?
  • ‍To what degree appraisee’s level of ownership, communication, and engagement with other team members meet your expectations?
  • ‍What would you say if you could give [employee] constructive advice to be more effective in his/her role

Training & education questions

  • Do you feel you are learning at work? What are the new things you learned lately / want to learn?
  • What is the specific skill that you are going to acquire or enhance?
  • Why is it essential to your company that you increase your skill in this area or develop this competency?
  • What will be the benefit to you if you improve in this area?
  • How will you determine whether you actually have made a significant improvement in this area?

Competency related questions

  • How would you evaluate the appraisee's competency "X"?
  • Which appraisee's competencies need improvement?
  • Could you provide an example of how the appraisee demonstrated competency "X"?

Organization and culture focused questions

  • Do you have a clear understanding of expectations from you? What makes you say that?
  • How would you describe our company culture? What sort of person would be a good fit here?
  • Which company values do you like the most? Which the least? Why?
  • In what ways do you think you can contribute more to the company?

Analyze the results

It is a waste of time when employees do their best to participate, but organization fails to uncover growth insights from the performance appraisal data. Every appraisal question answered holds valuable information that helps you align team's professional growth. Here’re some ideas how you can analyze data from 360 review and other types of appraisals.


The disparity in the 360 review results is not a cause of concern. Instead, it allows space for discussions and understanding of what might trigger differing perceptions amongst peers, managers, and subordinates. The results pave the way for follow-up interactions that help shed light on specific areas that have escaped the employee's attention.

How radar charts help in analyzing employee performance

During the appraisal, employees are scored over multiple competencies. A radar chart is a visual tool that consolidates different competencies in a unified observable perspective.

For example, in 360 review includes grades of manager, peers, and self- evaluation. A radar chart will help you identify the difference in grades of participants as well as commonalities and outliers in various performance indicators. On the screenshot below, you can see the example of inflated self-assessment of the reviewed person.

These are the different scenarios that might result from the performance appraisal process.

Underestimated self evaluation

You have employees that tick all the right checkboxes in their job but fail to appreciate the brilliance of their performance. This is a classic example of employees suffering from low self-esteem or morale, and it's in your best interest to help them acknowledge their strengths and reap the rewards of their efforts.

To do that, you'll need to address the root cause of such situations. First, their employees may not be getting adequate feedback from their managers. Employees require more frequent feedback to understand their strengths and weaknesses. In the US, one-third of companies have opted for regular informal manager-employee interaction in favor of the traditional appraisal process.

The second reason employees are discrediting their worth is that they could be undergoing difficult times. It is not unusual and perfectly humane for personal issues to affect professional performance. Or they are facing work complications and don't have the proper channel to voice their grievances. Therefore, it's essential to design a stress-free and approachable appraisal process that encourages employees to share their thoughts without fear.

Inflated self evaluation

Some employees think highly of themselves, but their manager doesn't share the same sentiment. Employees submitted an impressive self- evaluation form during the appraisal, highlighting their skills, achievement, and track records. However, their managers have a totally different perception and believe the employees are nowhere near their best.

Overconfidence is not necessarily bad, but it's crucial to figure out why the manager has contrasting views. Based on the employee performance analytics, it is easy for you to pinpoint KPIs that garnered conflicting opinions. Then, discuss with the manager and understand what unfolds during the 1-to-1 sessions with the employees.

If there is a reality gap between the employees' self-view and skills, help them elevate their capability to match their self-esteem. Otherwise, address any weaknesses in how the interviews are structured with the aid of the HR team. This ensures future valuations produce more precise results.

Negative results

Although it can be alarming but it also could be a turning point for the better when you take the right steps. Hold private discussions with the employee and seek their thoughts on the appraisal results. Identify the areas with the lowest scores and focus on improving them for the next 6 months. Then, find ways that are agreeable to both parties to reverse the results. For example, create a development plan to elevate employees' performance. It's essential to integrate these plans with deadlines and SMART/OKR goals. Brief the employees of the renewed expectations during subsequent 1-1 sessions.

Absolute positive results

When both employees and managers give positive reviews in appraisals, you'll want to ensure that the former is appropriately rewarded for their efforts. Be it a salary increment or promotion, you need to assure your star employees that there's more room for progression in the company.

More data-driven ideas for your performance reports

  • Identify skills that need improvement at the organizational, team, and manager levels.
  • Compare performance evaluation data by demographic criteria, such as tenure, seniority, gender, and location.
  • Highlight extremes in competencies against average benchmarks
  • Create personalized career development plans for employees
  • Shortlist high-performers and accord the appropriate rewards.
  • Allocate space for conversations and remedial actions for low performers.

Here’s and example on how you can display performance data in Peoplelogic:

Keep Reading:

Chapter One: Intro to appraisalsChapter Three: Appraisal tips

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