5 wooden stars on a blue background

This is the second in our series of articles looking at appraisals and performance management. In this article we will look at some of the most common options for appraisals and ongoing performance management.

In the first article in our series we looked at whether appraisals still have value in the modern workplace, and how we make them matter in our organisation.

Common options for appraisals

There are many different appraisal methods out there, and what works for one organisation may not work for another. Remember, you don’t need to stick with just one method if a combination of different approaches would work better for you. So, let’s have a brief look at a few of the most common appraisal types out there.

Management by objective appraisals

This is where an employee and their manager set specific objectives and goals to be achieved. It is a looking to the future approach to appraisals, with the setting of personal goals that will feed into an organisation’s overall goals. This type of appraisal can encourage collaborative working, and help managers to communicate what they expect, and for employees to feel empowered and involved in the setting of their targets. Organisations with a clear direction of travel will often perform better. These appraisals will take time and paperwork, and you need to be mindful not to fall into the trap of only focusing on short-term objectives and losing sight of your organisation’s long-term goals.

Behaviour and trait based appraisals

Behaviours and traits can both be used to assess performance at work. These types of appraisal systems can sometimes focus on only behaviour or traits or can be a combination of the two.
A behavioural appraisal would consider the behaviours required for the job. An example could be someone who needs to interact with a customer as soon as they arrive in a store. These can take a great deal of time to develop and would need updating as roles changed over time.

A trait-based appraisal would consider whether an employee demonstrates the traits that are required for the role. For example, someone working in the care sector may be expected to demonstrate empathy and compassion. Trait only appraisals are highly subjective however, and how would you use this to improve employee performance?

360 reviews

You could if you like call this the full orbit approach to appraisals. This is where an employee’s manager, peers, and subordinates, are asked to complete detailed questionnaires on the employee. These certainly provide a large amount of feedback to an employee, but these should be professionally developed to avoid creating a negative culture and you need to bear in mind that they may not always be accurate and can be time consuming!


This is where you ask your employee to reflect on their own performance, and to provide the employee with the opportunity to be in control of their own professional development. This can be a good way to receive constructive feedback from employees, and to assist managers in understanding and communicating with their employees more effectively. Self-reflection can however be hard and is by its very nature subjective.

Whichever direction of travel you take you need a system that your employees buy into and engage with. Simplifying the appraisal process and making it more relevant to your organisation can certainly help with that.

In the next part of this series, we’ll be looking at personal development more broadly and the role you play in that as a business. And remember, if you truly want to reach for the stars, you need to keep heading onwards and upwards together!

If you would like to discuss anything further in this article, please contact our Employment team.