Managing difficult appraisals – Key questions to plan and ask during an appraisal

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.

Questions that need answers

What were last year’s objectives?

Of course, both manager and appraisee should be very familiar with these because they have been working towards them. To avoid any possibility of confusion, however, it is sensible for the manager to give the appraisee a copy of last year’s appraisal form, to ensure that both of them are approaching the appraisal from the same start point.

What supporting facts are there to confirm the level of performance actually achieved?

Ideally, the method of measuring performance against objectives should have been agreed at the last appraisal. If, on the other hand, the objectives set were rather ‘soft’, it would be useful if the manager and appraisee were to agree at the preparation meeting what kind of supporting facts each will collect.

What affected the appraisee’s performance?

The factors affecting performance fall into two categories:

  • Internal factors, which are within the appraisee’s control, principally the effort, skill and knowledge applied to the job.
  • External factors, which are outside the appraisee’s control, ranging from lack of co-operation by colleagues to market factors and the state of the international economy.

What should this year’s objectives be?

The manager must consider this from two viewpoints:

1.         What the manager needs the appraisee to achieve as a contribution to the manager’s objectives

2.         What the appraisee is capable of achieving with appropriate support and development.

What support will the appraisee need in order to achieve the new objectives?

Support can include intervention by the manager to remove or minimise external blocks to performance, and can involve coaching or training to enhance skills or knowledge. The manager should also consider whether the appraisee could put more effort into the job if motivated by longer term development such as:

  • job enrichment
  • extra responsibilities
  • preparation for promotion

Managing the difficult appraisal Course

The course is designed to give delegates many practical tips and techniques and help them get the best out of every performance appraisal.

Managers will learn how to:

  • Deliver feedback to someone who thinks they have performed higher than they have
  • Deal with sickness issues effectively
  • How to manage very negative or disruptive staff
  • Handle confidently issues regarding staff reduction with no reduction in workload
  • How to positively communicate with an appraisee who disagrees with feedback

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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