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Effective Performance Appraisals – Raise Performance and Morale

Appraisals can raise performance and morale, but most damage both. The appraisal process is broken. Summarizing an entire year’s work into one conversation and giving all that work a numerical rating is demoralizing and ineffective. Yet it’s the system most of us have to work with.

It’s time to get ready to write, deliver, and receive useful, motivating, and effective performance appraisals.

Performance Appraisal tool kit2First evaluate your performance appraisal. If it’s more than two pages, it’s too long. If HR professionals are chasing appraisals, trying to get managers to complete them, the tools you’re using aren’t working. If you have to conduct a training to teach people how to complete the appraisal, it’s too complicated.

The next few blogs will be about how to write and deliver effective performance appraisals.  I’ll also make Candid Culture’s effective performance appraisals tool kit available. Contact us for bulk pricing.

Performance Management Tools When I managed leadership training and succession planning, in a past job, I inherited a 12-page performance review that no one wanted to use. One of the leaders I supported told me, “If you can give me something that’s one page, I’ll get my people to use it.” From that day on I was on a quest to create tools for effective performance appraisals that were one or two pages. Today Candid Culture offers a suite of performance management tools – self appraisal, annual appraisal, talent assessment, development plans, etc. — that are one and two pages.  Let me know if you want to talk with me about using them in your organization.

Employees, make it easy to review your performance. Write a one-page document summarizing your accomplishments. Assemble feedback you’ve received during the year from the people you support. Ask permission to provide both to your manager to make it easier to write your review.

Lastly, managers and employees, get ready to give and receive useful feedback. Most of the feedback employees receive isn’t feedback at all. It’s what I fondly refer to as CAP’N Crunch – vague and thus unhelpful. Effective performance appraisals should focus on three specific things the employee did well during the year and three specific things she can improve. People can’t focus on more than that.

BookDisplayLogos&SoundviewLive How to Say Anything to AnyoneA Guide for Building Business Relationships that Really Work  is perfect preparation to get ready to deliver and receive performance feedback. I feel so strongly that the book will elevate the appraisal process, that we’re going to offer the book at a deep, bulk discount, to encourage organizations to make it available to managers and employees.

The appraisal process doesn’t have to damage relationships, lower morale and make employees question their commitment to your organization. Get ready now. Don’t wait. Start capturing what employees did well during the year and what could have been improved. Be specific. If you don’t have an example, you’re not ready to give feedback.

Next week I’ll provide specific examples of how to create useful performance feedback that will raise performance while maintaining morale. Until then, start planning! Good luck


Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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