Performance appraisal

You should be given the chance to sit down with your manager or supervisor at least once a year and have a performance appraisal. This is an opportunity for you to look together at:

  • how you’ve developed over the last year, particularly around any specific objectives you’d agreed previously
  • whether you’re still producing the necessary level of performance in relation to the competencies set out for your role – if you’re employed in the NHS, this will almost certainly mean looking at how you’re doing over the six core dimensions of the Knowledge and Skills Framework
  • what education and training opportunities you’re going to need over the coming year
  • producing a personal development plan for you (which we’ll look at shortly)
  • setting specific objectives for you to achieve over the coming year.

The objectives you agree with your manager should be what is called SMART, that is:

  • Specific (you should understand exactly what the objective is)
  • Measurable (you and your manager should be able to look back in a year’s time and actually be able to see whether the objectives have been achieved or not)
  • Agreed and achievable (you should be happy with the objectives and they should not be so challenging that you could never achieve them)
  • Realistic and relevant (the objectives should reflect your skills, experience and grade and should relate directly to the work you do)
  • Time-related (you and your manager should set realistic time-scales over which the objectives will be achieved).

It’s really important to emphasise that the performance appraisal is not about trying to find weaknesses in your practice and punishing you for them. Rather, it’s about you and your manager having an opportunity to look at your performance in the round, highlight where you’re clearly achieving the necessary performance and identifying what kinds of support will help you reach even higher levels. It’s really about supporting you to make the best possible contribution to your team’s work and develop your own knowledge and skills into the bargain.

It’s also not a one-way conversation with your manager telling you what he or she thinks of your work. It’s very much based on a partnership approach with both of you working together to map a way forward for you within the team. Indeed, performance appraisals in some areas start with the person who’s being appraised describing what he or she feels about their own performance, and some appraisal forms have a section that the person fills in before the meeting with the manager to help them with this.

At the end, you and your manager will sign the performance appraisal form. This provides a summary of your discussion and puts on record the objectives you’ve agreed for the coming year. The form will then be produced as a ‘starting point’ for your next appraisal.

Listen to a conversation between a health care assistant who is new to the role and a more experienced colleague as they discuss performance appraisals.

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