This is the third in our series of articles looking at appraisals and performance management. In this, our final article, we look at personal development generally and the role you play in that as a business.

An annual event – or an ongoing conversation?

Although appraisals still have a role to play in any organisation, over recent years there has been a shift by many businesses towards an ongoing approach towards performance management where regular conversations are held with employees regarding their performance and personal development. At a time when many businesses are struggling to recruit and retain staff, effective performance management and development can be a great tool in helping to engage, motivate and retain staff.

It’s good to talk

It is however important to get it right. The purpose of performance management should be to help employees perform to the best of their ability whilst supporting the organisation’s values and mission. The benefit of an ongoing approach to performance management is that conversations can be had at more relevant times, for example, at the end of a project or when challenges arise. It makes feedback more relevant and often much easier to deal with because the work and what went well, or not so well, is still fresh in everyone’s mind. It also gives the opportunity for performance goals and career development to be reviewed and regularly assessed through the year. It might be that these need to be adjusted depending on progress made so far or an employee might want some additional support. An employee is far more likely to achieve their goals if these conversations are ongoing through the year, rather than getting to the end and finding someone was struggling or working on the wrong thing or that a target set 12 months ago was no longer relevant.

And think how much easier that end of year review is going to be if you already know where your team are against their goals, because you’ve been talking about them all year!

However, you will need to ensure that ongoing performance management is part of your culture, otherwise to put it simply, it just won’t work. Training for managers on how to conduct effective ongoing performance management will be key.

What does good look like?

Here are some top tips to help conduct effective reviews:

  • Make the time to conduct effective reviews
  • Never cancel or reschedule (unless absolutely necessary) – otherwise you are saying to staff you’re not important
  • Prepare!
  • Be objective
  • Ask open questions that encourage self-reflection. For example: What went well? What went not so well? What did you learn? Would you do anything differently next time?
  • Provide helpful and specific feedback on things that maybe didn’t go so well
  • Genuinely consider: how can I help this person improve and develop?
  • Always follow up on anything you said you would do


Personally, I hope the days of the one-off annual manager-led appraisals are behind us. In our first article I posed the question whether we had been getting appraisals and performance management wrong for all these years. In summary, probably yes unless you have an effective system of appraisals, goal-setting, personal development and performance management that your employees buy into and engage with. If you can achieve that, then you could even put a man on the moon!


If you have any further enquiries regarding Performance Management, please feel free to contact our Employment Team and we would be happy to help.