Staff Appraisal Scheme:

1 Key Features of the Scheme


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For the Scheme to work it is essential that all those involved should approach it with a serious commitment to success.


If members of staff are to undertake a serious examination of their plans for development they must be entirely confident about the confidentiality of the process. Any doubts about confidentiality will seriously undermine the entire scheme. These comments about confidentiality apply equally to the security of records.


The fundamental purpose of the Staff Appraisal Scheme is to encourage the development of staff and of the institution. This developmental emphasis will be an essential part of the Action Plans generated during the appraisal interviews. The identification of scope for development does not carry with it any assumption of weakness in that area, in many cases staff will seek to build on existing strengths.
Action Plans will be followed up in a number of ways. These procedures will be confidential to those directly involved:
– Appraisers will be asked at their own appraisal about the development of their appraisees
– Heads of Department will be asked at their appraisal about the extent to which they have fostered the development of the staff in their department.
– Heads of Department will be invited by the STD Office to suggest areas where training and development might be made generally available.
– a statement of training and development activities will be produced as part of the appraisal process.
– appraisees will be able to approach STD directly.
These initiatives will lead to a wide range of outcomes including informal groups within or between departments, attendance at external conferences and courses, STD workshops, and ongoing work with individuals or small groups.


Training will be mandatory for appraisers and available for appraisees.


There are links with promotion, and hence to assessment, but these are limited in scope and should not be seen as central to the scheme. There can be no presumption that a series of favourable appraisals will ensure promotion. Links with discipline, except to the extent of allowing appraisees to adduce appraisal material to contest disciplinary proceedings, are excluded from the scheme.

2 The Process of Appraisal

The stages of the process are shown in the Scheme. These comments highlight particularly important features of those stages.


The Head of Department will circulate a List of Appraisers to all appraisees. Any appraisee will be able to indicate, in confidence to the Head of Department, any individual they would not wish to be appraised by. The Head of Department will try to respect these views when deciding who is appraised by whom. Objections to the appointment of appraiser are to be negotiated with the Head of Department or the Conciliation Officer. Departments will need to take care to have an adequate number of trained appraisers. It is recommended that normally no appraiser should appraise more than ten members of staff.


Both the appraisee and the appraiser should spend some time preparing for the interview. The Report on Activities should be given to the appraiser some days before the interview and this should be read carefully and form the basis for the completion of the Appraisers Checklist.
Appraisers of research staff should discuss the context of the appraisees work with the Project Supervisor before the interview. In this way it should be possible for the Action Plan and Training Needs Statements to be realistic given the time and financial constraints of the project supporting the appraisees salary.
The appraisees Advance Preparation Form – like the Appraisers Checklist – is a personal document, but its completion will help focus attention on key issues.


Appraisees and appraisers must work together to set aside an adequate amount of uninterrupted time for the interview. Secretaries will need to be clearly briefed about the importance of preventing interruptions. It is recommended that appraisers should not undertake more than two appraisal interviews in a single day. The time allocated for the interview should be not less than one hour. In some cases it may be sensible to adjourn the interview – to allow the collection of further information or to confer with other staff – before arriving at the action plan.


The appraisal interview is a two-way process. Comments, positive and negative, will pass in both directions and considerable skill and sensitivity will be needed during the interview if it is to be successful. The key objective is to produce a workable action plan that will meet the objectives of both the appraisee and the department. This will need serious and skilful negotiation. No long-term benefit will ensue from a failure to confront differences.


This should be written after discussion has taken place. It should be long enough to comment usefully on each area of the appraisees activity. Bland generalities are entirely inappropriate.


The appraisee should be free to comment in any way that seems appropriate.


This is a joint action plan; the appraisee will usually be the key figure, but action by the appraiser is likely to be needed too. If the appraiser is not the Head of Department then this plan will be commented on by the Head of Department. In some cases it may make sense to consult the Head of Department before finalising the plan.


In tandem with the construction of the Action Plan training and development needs may be identified. If there are likely to be costs associated with these needs the Head of Department should be consulted before finalising the statement.


It is not sufficient to agree an action plan and then to wait until the next appraisal to discuss its implementation. All those involved should seek – through informal conversations or more structured discussions – to monitor the success of the plan. One method of monitoring is the requirement for the appraisee and appraiser to hold a follow up meeting within six months of the appraisal interview. The meeting should review progress on the Action Plan and Training Needs Statement. If either party is unhappy with the progress to date or can see obstacles in the future the Head of Department should be asked to attend the meeting.
Monitoring beyond this meeting is also important and arrangements for this should be described in the notes of the meeting.

3 Departmental Responsibilities

Departments have considerable control over the operation of the Scheme. The responsibility for this rests with Heads of Department, but they will want to ensure the widest acceptance of their proposals by their departmental colleagues. It may be appropriate to convene a special departmental meeting to consider these issues, and there will need to be periodic revision of the Departmental Guidelines.


Departments are free to make their own decisions about the scheduling of appraisal interviews as long as they conform to the requirements stipulated by the Staff Review Committee. For the purpose of monitoring the appraisal scheme year shall be the calendar year.


Departments are required to embody their key objectives, and the main indicators to be used in appraisal interviews, in broad-brush written statements of policy referred to as Departmental Guidelines. These objectives and indicators should be specific enough to be meaningful and must be acceptable within the department. Great care should be devoted to their production. They will form the basis for the conduct of appraisal interviews and for the formulation of action plans.


It is expected that the Head of Department will consult senior staff on the identification of appraisers.


Action plans, if they are to be meaningful, may have resource and management implications. Departments must address these implications.

Appraisal Methods

In a landmark study, Locher & Teel (1977) found that the three most common appraisal methods in general use are rating scales (56%), essay methods (25%) and results- oriented or MBO methods (13%). For a description of each, follow the button links on the left.

Certain techniques in performance appraisal have been thoroughly investigated, and some have been found to yield better results than others.

Encourage Discussion

Research studies show that employees are likely to feel more satisfied with their appraisal result if they have the chance to talk freely and discuss their performance. It is also more likely that such employees will be better able to meet future performance goals. (e.g., Nemeroff & Wexley, 1979).
Employees are also more likely to feel that the appraisal process is fair if they are given a chance to talk about their performance. This especially so when they are permitted to challenge and appeal against their evaluation. (Greenberg, 1986).

Constructive Intention

It is very important that employees recognize that negative appraisal feedback is provided with a constructive intention, i.e., to help them overcome present difficulties and to improve their future performance. Employees will be less anxious about criticism, and more likely to find it useful, when the believe that the appraisers intentions are helpful and constructive. (Fedor et al., 1989)
In contrast, other studies (e.g., Baron, 1988) have reported that “destructive criticism” – which is vague, ill-informed, unfair or harshly presented – will lead to problems such as anger, resentment, tension and workplace conflict, as well as increased resistance to improvement, denial of problems, and poorer performance.

Set Performance Goals

It has been shown in numerous studies that goal-setting is an important element in employee motivation. Goals can stimulate employee effort, focus attention, increase persistence, and encourage employees to find new and better ways to work. (e.g., Locke,et al., 1981)
The useful of goals as a stimulus to human motivation is one of the best supported theories in management. It is also quite clear that goals which are “…specific, difficult and accepted by employees will lead to higher levels of performance than easy, vague goals (such as do your best) or no goals at all.” (Harris & DiSimone, 1994)
Appraiser Credibility
It is important that the appraiser (usually the employees supervisor) be well-informed and credible. Appraisers should feel comfortable with the techniques of appraisal, and should be knowledgeable about the employees job and performance.
When these conditions exist, employees are more likely to view the appraisal process as accurate and fair. They also express more acceptance of the appraisers feedback and a greater willingness to change.


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