Preparing for appraisal


Ensuring that staff are clear about what they are doing and why, and have the skills to do their jobs, are crucial factors for delivering high quality patient care.  

This section of our website contains information to help you successfully complete the appraisal process, as well as links to tools and resources that you can tailor to your organisation's needs. On this page you will also find a review by a task and finish group in Wales, which identified key factors in  improving the success of the appraisal and KSF development review processes.

Quality appraisals

Quality appraisals provide staff with:

  • a clear understanding of their role and the part they play in their team and organisation
  • an agreed set of work objectives
  • a plan for acquiring and applying the knowledge and skills they need to do their job well and achieve their organisation's linked objectives.

The extract below, from page 20 of Appraisals and KSF made simple – a practical guide contains some helpful advice to support employers and managers with the process.

Reviewing managers

Employers who have been effective in implementing appraisals and the KSF have found the following approaches useful in supporting managers to operate good practice appraisal standards. Commonly, such organisations require the following of their reviewing managers:

  • They should have a formal review with every staff member they are responsible for at least once a year, with regular meetings and catch-ups and a more structured interim review at least half yearly.
  • They should be confident and competent in carrying out performance appraisals and development reviews, undergoing any necessary training and development before carrying out a review. If they have not, then managers must raise this as part of the identification of their own development needs.
  • They must be familiar with the appraisal and development review process and with the KSF. Leading employers provide written and intranet material, and in some cases e-learning packages, to help managers fully understand the process.
  • Managers should not be reviewing more than 10 to 12 people per annum. If a manager has a larger span of control, they should consider delegating some of their reviewer responsibilities, and/or temporarily consider a team approach.
  • Managers should ensure that all of their staff have a job description, person specification and post outline, and that roles cannot be recruited or promoted into without these or equivalent documentation being in place.

Then, through a mixture of training, timely information provision and support, organisations work to ensure that their managers carry out their performance appraisal and development review (PADR) responsibilities in the intended high quality manner. Typical advice and guidance provided to reviewing managers includes:

  • Prepare. Read the forms completed by the appraisee, complete any parts you need to in advance and think about specific examples of the appraisee’s work, behaviour and training needs over the course of the year.
  • Make sufficient time available for preparation and the meeting itself. This may seem difficult amidst crammed diaries but the end result is better skilled, more motivated staff making your life easier, so think about the end result. Also ensure that the environment is appropriate for the meeting, avoiding distractions and interruptions.
  • This is a dialogue not a form filling exercise, focus on the conversation and keep focused on the outcome of improving knowledge, skills and performance.
  • Expect and support the staff member to do most of the talking prompted by you. Recognise some staff may be intimidated by the process, at least at first. Always ask open questions, encourage them to talk, emphasise the positive and always give praise and recognition where it is due.
  • If you have kept up good, regular dialogue with the appraisee all year then there should be no surprises in the meeting, the discussion and rating of past performance should be straightforward and you can focus on planning for the future year. The review is not a substitute for good management.
  • You should know the appraisee well enough that there should not be a requirement for every area you discuss to be evidenced directly when reviewing the display of skills/knowledge over the past year. Observation, regular meetings and review should ensure written evidence is only needed in areas such as certified skills or where there is a key gap or disagreement.
  • Don’t neglect the development review and planning aspect, as these lie at the heart of future performance and improvement.
  • Gather views on the appraisee’s performance from other managers and other members of staff who have worked with them to broaden, inform and validate your own experiences.
  • You should be flexible and able to make changes, with the appraisee, to their objectives and development needs if there are changes in the appraisee’s role or circumstances during the year.
  • Allow appraisees the time they need during the working day, every year, to prepare for their appraisal.
  • Try to emphasise positive things. Identifying skills gaps is vital but so is giving people encouragement and recognition.
  • Keep focused on your employer and departmental goals when looking to the future. How does the appraisee contribute to those?
  • The appraisee is asked to look at some or all of the six core dimensions of their KSF outline, so consider in advance how they are demonstrating application of these and support your views with examples and illustrations.
  • There are many ways to address an identified development need and it is not always necessary to attend a training course. Consider exposure to other tasks, for example attending meetings, reading, learning from others, or shadowing.
  • Ensure you ascertain your appraisee’s mandatory training compliance status, as it’s your responsibility to ensure compliance.

Training and development will also be needed to ensure managers have and maintain the skills and understanding required for regular reviews with their staff. This enables managers to carry out constructive reviews and appreciate that people management is a vital part of their role.

Good practice from Wales

A review by a task and finish group about the use and implementation of the KSF in Wales identified the following key good practice to help employers to improve the success of their appraisal and KSF development review processes.

It was found that integrated performance management helps everyone in the organisation to know:

  • what the organisation is trying to achieve
  • their role in helping the organisation achieve its goals
  • the skills and competencies they need to fulfil their role
  • the education, training and development that is needed to fulfil their role
  • the standards of performance/behaviour required
  • how individuals can develop their performance and contribute to the development of the organisation and its values
  • how they are doing
  • when there are performance problems and what to do about them.

Taken together, these simple measures can help organisations deliver successful, quality appraisals which support the delivery of high quality patient care.

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