Three annual events fill most people with dread – a visit to the dentist (technically, that should be twice a year), completing their tax return, and the dreaded annual appraisal.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of many annual reviews over the years, each with varying degrees of professionalism. I’d imagine many are likely to have been ‘tick box exercises’ that had little or no value.

At Reclaro, we’re more positive about the annual review process and recognise the importance of having a structured appraisal system in place to be most effective in getting the best outcome. Of course, good managers will have regular check-ins with their team on a weekly and monthly basis. However, there is still tremendous value in having an annual appraisal performance review – as long as it’s done well.

This process doesn’t need to be daunting.

We’ve managed to boil down the elements of a highly effective appraisal and produced four key questions to set the appraisal planning in motion. These are great conversation starters that should set you up for a review meeting that empowers both managers and team members.

Here are the top 4 questions to ask an employee in their annual appraisal performance review:

1. What are your best results this year?

The idea here is to encourage the person to think about all they have achieved and their particular highlights throughout the year. A great discussion usually follows this question which helps you to celebrate their success.

2. What could you have done better?

This question aims to encourage your team member to be more self-aware of their performance and engage in an open and honest discussion instead of being defensive. Framing this topic in a positive way (instead of asking “what went badly this year?”) helps them feel encouraged instead of criticised and minimises any potential conflict.

3. What do you want to achieve next year?

This question helps your people look ahead and signifies their level of ambition and what they aspire to achieve. It will tell you how aligned they are to their current role, for example, whether they are close to reaching their maximum potential and how aligned they are with the overall goals and objectives at a business level.

4. Other than a pay rise and promotion, what do you want?

We love this question. It drills down to identify what is really important to the person so you can investigate ways to support them to reach high performance and become most effective. If you can find a way to help your people achieve what they want around additional training, enhanced roles and responsibilities, rather than a pay rise or promotion, it sets you apart from 99% of managers.

These four questions should help you carry out effective appraisal performance reviews that create great value for both you and your employees. In our experience, managers and team members come out of these meetings feeling much more motivated. It’s also a good idea to ask your team members for appraisal feedback so you can refine your appraisal system to ensure they get great value out of this process.

If you use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) within your business, the annual appraisal provides the perfect time to review performance against those and start clarifying the detail of their next measures for the following year.

Top 3 Takeaways

  1. Share these four appraisal discussion questions with all your teams in advance of their annual review meetings so everyone can prepare thoroughly.
  2. Take plenty of notes throughout each appraisal performance review meeting so you can refer back to these throughout the year.
  3. Use the topics discussed within the appraisal meeting to form the basis of that person’s next 1-3-5® plan, combining their aspirations with their objectives and goals.

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