What is a staff appraisal?

Theoretically, a staff appraisal, also known as a performance review or evaluation, is a systematic process where an employee’s job performance and contributions are assessed against predetermined objectives, expectations, or competencies. It typically involves feedback, goal setting, and discussions to enhance performance, foster professional development, and align individual achievements with organisational goals.

In the realm of performance appraisals, I’ve witnessed two distinct approaches throughout my extensive 20-plus years in HR: the serious commitment to meaningful assessments and the perfunctory tick-box exercises that lead to neglect and disinterest. The difference between the two is staggering, with the latter often resulting in appraisals being stashed away, forgotten until a spring clean prompts their disposal.


Contrasting effects of appraisal management

Neglecting to conduct appraisals or treating them as mere tick-box exercises can have detrimental consequences for both employees and the organization:


1. Employee Disengagement

 Lack of meaningful appraisals leads to disengagement as employees feel undervalued and overlooked. This disconnection can result in decreased morale and motivation.

2. Skill Mismatch

Without proper assessments, the organisation may overlook employees’ evolving skills or fail to address skill gaps. This oversight can lead to individuals being assigned tasks they are ill-equipped to handle.

3. Missed Development Opportunities

 Appraisals offer a chance to identify areas for growth and development. Neglecting this process means missing opportunities to nurture talent, hindering both individual and organisational advancement.

4. Increased Attrition Rate

Employees who perceive a lack of interest in their professional development are more likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. The organisation risks losing valuable talent, incurring recruitment and training costs for replacements.

5. Impact on Team Dynamics

Unequal treatment or the perception of favouritism resulting from a lack of fair assessments can harm team cohesion. This can lead to resentment among employees, affecting collaboration and teamwork.

6. Ineffective Performance Management

Without appraisals, there’s no structured approach to addressing performance issues. This lack of feedback and correction mechanisms can allow under-performance to persist, negatively impacting overall team productivity.

7. Negative Workplace Culture

A culture that neglects appraisals sends a message that performance is not a priority. This can contribute to a lack of accountability and a culture of mediocrity, hindering overall organisational success.

8. Legal and Compliance Risks

Failing to conduct appraisals or maintaining proper records can pose legal risks. Inconsistent treatment of employees and the absence of documented performance assessments may lead to legal challenges in the future.



In contrast, structured appraisals that align individual objectives with the broader business strategy can wield a transformative impact on the bottom line. As we find ourselves in January, now is the opportune time to delve into this process.

1. Enhanced Employee Engagement

Meaningful appraisals demonstrate a commitment to employees’ growth and well-being, fostering a sense of value and engagement.

2. Identifying and Utilising Talent

Appraisals help identify individual strengths and talents, enabling the organization to strategically deploy skills where they are most impactful.

3. Improved Performance

Clear performance expectations and constructive feedback provided during appraisals contribute to improved individual performance and overall team effectiveness.

4. Personal and Professional Development

Appraisals provide a platform for discussing career aspirations, setting development goals, and creating tailored plans to enhance employees’ skills and knowledge.

5. Goal Alignment

Aligning individual objectives with organisational goals ensures that employees understand how their efforts contribute to the overall success of the company.

6. Motivation and Recognition

Recognising achievements during appraisals serves as positive reinforcement, motivating employees to continue excelling in their roles.

7. Enhanced Communication

Regular appraisal discussions facilitate open communication between employees and managers, creating a feedback loop that helps address concerns and foster a collaborative environment.

8. Retention of Talent

Employees who feel valued and supported in their development are more likely to stay with the organisation, reducing turnover and associated recruitment costs.

9. Succession Planning

Appraisals aid in identifying potential leaders within the organisation, supporting succession planning and ensuring a pipeline of capable individuals for key roles.

10. Legal Compliance

A well-documented appraisal process can serve as evidence of fair treatment and performance evaluations, reducing legal risks associated with employee disputes.

11. Boost to Morale

Recognising and appreciating employees’ efforts in a structured manner can positively impact morale, contributing to a more positive workplace culture.

12. Increased Productivity

Employees with clear goals and a sense of purpose are more likely to be productive. Appraisals contribute to this clarity, aligning individual efforts with organisational objectives.

13. Data for Decision-Making

Appraisal data provides valuable insights for strategic decision-making, allowing organisations to make informed choices about training, promotions, and resource allocation.


In conclusion, a robust appraisal process serves as a cornerstone for talent management, employee development, and organisational success by fostering a culture of continuous improvement and mutual understanding. The key lies in support and commitment, moving beyond mere objective setting to ensure they are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This meticulous approach should extend to closing any training gaps, ensuring employees possess the skills required to accomplish tasks promptly.


How often should staff appraisals be done?

Quarterly follow-ups provide a structured framework for assessing progress, but regular monthly check-ins serve as crucial touchpoints for ongoing support. By fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing challenges with their line manager, issues can be addressed proactively, preventing them from escalating into larger problems.

The true essence of a successful appraisal process lies not just in the initial goal-setting but in the continuous commitment to monitor, support, and adapt. This approach not only enhances individual performance but contributes significantly to the overall success of the organisation.


I can help organisations to build a framework that promotes collaboration and well-being.

Contact Leonie Goodman Consulting if you would like to know more.