How the design of your performance appraisal form affects the appraisal conversation

Share Button

We often talk about how the design of a 360 degree feedback report drives the debrief conversation; if it has norms, it leads to conversation about comparison with others; if it is a bar chart with averages, it may miss important detail which offers greater insight for the recipient and their specific development areas.

The same principles apply in the design of the performance appraisal form; what gets captured, gets talked about and is talked about in the order laid out on the form.

So one form may lead with a review section of all the prior year objectives to be rated, with perhaps an overall rating at the end – this has the appraisal conversation primarily focus from the outset on ratings; naturally one would hope the conversation would work through the detail of what someone did to fail/meet/exceed the objective, but nonetheless visually,  the rating is dominant.

Consider an alternative, where the first section is a set of purely narrative questions, such as:

  • What has been your proudest achievement this year?
  • What worked well?
  • How have you developed in the past 12 months?
  • What have been the most enjoyable aspects of your role this past year?

Immediately, the appraisal conversation should open up into a more free-flowing discussion; it may still get to some assessment of objectives, but we have taken a different route to get there.

The design of an appraisal form can signal to an employee what the organisation believes is important – is it performance ratings? Is it a genuine desire to explore achievements? Do the open questions have a large text box for my comments? Or am I expected to be brief?

Much like 360 degree feedback, a performance appraisal project can seem relatively straightforward; put a form on-line and capture the information efficiently – but the effectiveness comes through the conversation, and careful appraisal form design can have a significant impact on that.





Share Button

Listen to our latest recorded webinar – How to conduct an effective 360 degree feedback debrief

Share Button

Firstly a note of thanks to all those who attended this webinar on Tuesday; it was great to see such a mix of industries represented, all with an interest in what we see as a critical element of the 360 degree feedback process.

If you missed it and would like to listen to the recording then click on the link below:


“How to conduct an effective 360 degree feedback debrief” – Recorded Webinar


This 45 minute webinar explores the key elements of a successful face-to-face 360 feedback debrief:

  • Understanding your role as a debriefer and what skills it requires
  • Preparation; what to look for in a report
  • Structure; the basic debrief process
  • Concluding the debrief; moving towards action


If you would also like to receive the accompanying free whitepaper which offers more insight, tips and advice on this topic, then please contact me directly at


Share Button

What about after the 360 degree feedback debrief conversation?

Share Button

Follow up. This is the key theme from this article in Forbes about how an organisation can ensure their leadership development programmes deliver the value intended.

Comparing differences in participants 360 degree feedback data before and after attending an identical leadership development programme, where some had significantly improved and others had stayed the same or even headed South; what was the difference the made the difference?

The key is what happened next. Success came through having a 360 debrief conversation, coupled with meaningful development plans being drawn up and actions which integrated the development plan into their day-to-day role.

We support clients with follow on coaching for recipients who wish to crystallize the themes which emerge from their 360 debrief into tangible development plans which will make a difference in their role and their career aspirations – whether it is handled internally or externally, such support is the only way to make sure that 360 report doesn’t end up in the desk drawer.



Share Button

Busting some ‘Urban Myths’ using 360 degree feedback

Share Button

What’s an Urban Myth? Many definitions abound, but we will take this one; ‘a story of obscure origin with little or no supporting evidence which has spread spontaneously in varying forms’ – some famous ones include:

  • Chicago was nicknamed the Windy City because its politicians had a reputation for being long-winded (True)
  • New York was nicknamed the Big Apple because its politicians were so corrupt it was said to be rotten to the core (Myth)

Stories, whether true or not, are powerful; they are rooted in beliefs & assumptions, and they drive the way we think, the way we behave and ultimately results we get

We tell stories all the time – we tell ourselves stories as individuals about who we are, we tell ourselves stories as a group or team, and there are the ones we tell ourselves as an organisation.

360 degree feedback is a good way to explore those stories about ourselves; to challenge the beliefs and assumptions that underpin them and to see whether they are true, partially true or false.

If we are seeking to develop and change the way we do things for the better, it often means that we have to bust through some of our own ‘Urban Myths’ and create some new stories about ourselves.

That’s why the 360 degree feedback debrief becomes the key opportunity to sit with someone and explore their feedback with them; to see what’s ‘true’ (where their story about themselves is borne out by other people) or where perhaps a ‘myth’ has formed.


P.S. There is still opportunity to register a place for our free webinar next Tuesday 22nd October – ‘How to conduct an effective 360 degree feedback debrief’ – just go to our registration page here.




Share Button

What questions should you use to explore a 360 degree feedback report?

Share Button

When you are in a one-to-one 360 degree feedback debrief session,  the purpose is to explore the recipient’s report, raise their self-awareness and have them accept what the feedback is saying; without these stages of awareness-building and acceptance, it is difficult to move onto setting development goals and action planning.

With this in mind, questions which help them reveal more about a situation from different perspectives are  invaluable; let’s take an example of someone having feedback as being abrasive or brusque in their dealings with others.

The first question often to ask is ‘Does this ring true for you?’ or ‘Do you recognise this in yourself?’; if the answer is ‘Yes’ then the line of questionning is different to that if they say ‘No’.

Taking the former, your questions should then try to highlight the specific scenarios in which this behaviour occurs; asking ‘Why do you behave like this?’ can often make someone defensive and attempt to justify the behaviour i.e. ‘It’s not me, it’s them’.

Far better to uncover what is happening before they decide to behave like that, because consciously or unconciously, there is a decision made to act one way or the other.

So, questions might be ‘When do you notice this behaviour emerge? With particular people or in a particular situation? What do you believe about this person or situation? What are your expectations as you go into a particular situation? What about when you are not brusque or abrasive…what’s dfifferent?

Such questions serve to help an individual become aware of the beliefs, values, assumptions, thinking and feelings which lead them to certain decisions and behaviours; with that knowledge, individuals are in a better place to make different choices & decisions next time.

If you are interested in knowing more about our ‘How to conduct an effective 360 degree feedback debrief’  webinar on Tuesday 22nd October then feel free to register your interest here.


Share Button

How to keep values and behaviours alive…an employee’s view

Share Button

We have been working with a client who is keen to further embed their core values within the organisation; the values exist, the desired behaviours which support those values are clearly stated, and yet meaningful discussion of these at appraisal time is still difficult -So how do you keep the values alive? Here’s what the employees said:

  • Keep the values and behaviours visual; in your own space and in shared spaces
  • Share stories with each other of how you have demonstrated the behaviours; face-to-face, intranet, group gatherings
  • Find time to reflect on your own personal performance; consider not just ‘what’ you did, but ‘how’ you did it and connect to the values
  • Place discussion of the values & behaviours on team meeting agendas; make it regular and signal it’s importance
  • Ensure the organisation places equal emphasis on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ in performance management processes
  • Have recognition and reward, both from the organisation and peers, as a cultural fixture
  • Use the values and behaviours to set out your intention; ask ‘how can we solve this problem by applying the organisational values?’

This list as you might imagine is not exhaustive, but provides an interesting perspective on how you can embed values within your business if you can involve and engage the employees; their solutions are as much about what they can do individually or as a team, as distinct to solely what the organisation should do

Values can’t be imposed top-down, but they certainly can be embraced and flourish ground-up if you create the right conditions.



Share Button