Appraisal Feedback – Managing difficult appraisals

Our Managing difficult appraisals course deals mainly with the difficulties that arise when we are appraising employees who are substandard in performance, behaviour or attitude. This type of interview needs to be handled well if the manager is to make the best of the performance appraisal. Handled badly and both manager and employee may walk away frustrated and demotivated. Handled well and a highly productive meeting can reinvigorate a poorly performing employee.

Feedback from appraisee

Invite the appraisee to assess his/her own performance over the appraisal period first. Where a self-appraisal form has been used the headings on this form can be used as prompts. It is also likely that the appraisee will be prepared to talk frankly about their performance when a self-appraisal form has been completed. If no self-appraisal form has been used, the process can be started with an open question such as “What do you feel have been your main successes during the year?

Encouraging the appraisee to assess her/his own performance has the advantage of:

a)    allowing the appraisee to critically analyse their own performance

b)   allowing the appraisee to identify areas of weakness rather than having them pointed out by the appraiser

c)    allowing the appraisee to promote positive aspects of their performance

Most appraisees are surprisingly modest about achievements and are candid about areas for improvement. It is easier for the appraiser to explore these further if needed, than to introduce the topic themselves.

Feedback from the appraiser

Having given the appraisee an opportunity to air their views about their own performance it is time for the appraiser to give his/her assessment. This may reinforce the points made by the appraisee or there may be areas of contradiction.

The appraisal interview is all about motivation and as a result praise should be given first for areas of achievement.

Where criticisms need to be made it is best to tackle the issue directly. If any aspect of someone’s work has been poor, then the appraiser needs to say so. However, appraisers need to have specific examples of the performance that is below par. Vague criticisms that cannot be supported may well lead to conflict. The appraisal process is there to allow people to improve performance and develop. If appraisal is part of an on-going process, such criticisms will come as no surprise to the appraisee.

Where improvement has been made following previous discussion, recognition and praise should be given.

The appraisal interview is not the place to instigate disciplinary procedures. These should be dealt with separately from the appraisal although the appraisal interview will reinforce the need for improvement and the steps to be taken to achieve this.

Managing the Difficult Appraisal Course Agenda



Introduction/course aims and objectives

  • Understanding the appraisal process
  • Benefits of constructive appraisals
  • Reasons for ineffective appraisals
  • The interview structure and essential appraisal preparation
  • Setting the scene and relaxing the appraisee

11.00-11.15 – Break


Reviewing past performance constructively

  • How to give negative feedback constructively
  • How to discuss difficult issues sensitively
  • Appraising the employee with attitude and behavior issues
  • Using praise to disarm difficult appraisees

Setting clear and realistic objectives

  • Understanding the power of SMART objectives and effective follow-up



How to avoid appraisal pitfalls

  • Managing inefficiency and poor performance
  • Tackling attitude and behaviour issues
  • Dealing with non-responsive and aggressive employees
  • Handling appraisees who don’t react well to negative criticism
  • Giving feedback to appraisees who don’t believe they have any faults
  • Handling issues raised regarding performance-pay


Follow through post appraisal

  • Handling the reactions of the difficult conversation
  • Follow through and managing the relationship after the meeting
  • Course close and paperwork

Why choose Total Success for your training?

  • our lead trainers have over 18 years experience in training
  • a maximum of 8 delegates means more time spent on individual needs
  • we guarantee to run the course and will never cancel at the last moment
  • free subscription to our monthly training newsletter
  • All open courses are trained in Central London at the St Giles Hotel.

Each delegate receives a comprehensive training workbook that doubles as an open course manual. Courses run from 9.30-5.30 with lunch and refreshments provided.

In-Company Courses

Each organisation has its own specific way of planning, organising, conducting and evaluating the performance appraisal process. Total Success have developed a series of in-house training modules. These are designed so that an organisation can pick the training which is more applicable to its own needs and budget.

The training subjects and recommended timings are shown below. You are able to choose the training sessions and build your own course within an agreed course schedule.

The benefits to you are:

  • The course fits your organisational needs exactly
  • You are able to set courses which are more applicable to different departments and groups within your organisation
  • You can plan the course to fit your budget
  • You are more in control of the course content

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