How do I receive feedback in an Appraisal? 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.


However well planned and tactful you are when giving feedback, you may be surprised by the type of reaction you get when you give feedback to one of your staff. Many people have an instinctive response to what they see as personal criticism. As managers we can be put off by this first reaction and not persevere. We only succeed in raising the crucial points without building future solutions.

Research into the reactions of people when receiving feedback and other types of bad news has identified that they tend to follow the SARAH Process.

They go through each of the stages in this sequence:


“You cannot be serious, if it was that important why didn’t you say anything before?”

“I’ll go now if that’s what you think.”


“How dare you say that!”

“Who are you to say that, you’re no great manager yourself.”


“It’s obviously a mistake, you don’t remember what a good job I did in the second quarter”

“Who could have done a good job with such poor equipment?”


“Well, perhaps they do have a point, I’ve noticed that I’m increasingly getting involved in arguments with customers”

“Interesting that’s the third time someone’s said that to me, perhaps it is worth looking at”


“So where do we go from here?”

“What help and advice is available?”

“How could you help?”

The better you can handle your response, and not respond with knee-jerk reaction, the quicker you will be able to move to the Acceptance and Help stages and view the process as a positive experience.

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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