Performance appraisal (or performance review) is an opportunity for individual employees and those concerned with their performance, typically line managers, to engage in a dialogue about their performance and development, as well as the support required from the manager.
While performance appraisal is an important part of performance management, in itself it is not performance management: rather, it is one of the range of tools that can be used to manage performance.
Because performance appraisal is usually carried out by line managers rather than HR professionals, it is important that they understand their role in managing performance and how performance appraisal contributes to the overall aims of performance management. See our factsheet on performance management for more information on that topic.
Procedures for appraising performance are usually based on an appraisal meeting. This should not be a ‘top down’ process or merely an opportunity for one person to ask questions and the other to reply, but should take the form of a free-flowing conversation during which a range of views is exchanged.
Performance appraisals usually review past actions and behaviour and so provide an opportunity to reflect on past performance. But to be successful they should also be used as a basis for making development and improvement plans and reaching agreement about what should be done in the future.
Relationship with performance management
The performance appraisal is often the central pillar of performance management. Our 2009 performance management survey found that a large majority of organisations use individual appraisals as part of performance management programmes.
However, it is a common mistake to assume that if organisations implement performance appraisals, they have performance management. This is not the case.
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