Advice for Appraiser
There are important responsibilities on the part of the appraiser to maximise the positive impact of appraisal. Staff appraisal is a simple process of REFLECTION and PLANNING. Some of this takes place before the meeting, some during, some immediately afterwards and then some throughout the year.
Preparing for Appraisal: Appraiser
- Prior to the appraisal meeting Directors and Heads of School should meet with appraisers to ensure they are clear as to the standards that should be applied
- The appraiser should book a suitable time and place for the discussion.
- Prepare and structure for the appraisal meeting in advance.
- Appraisees should be given guidance as to the appropriate standards and objectives relevant to their grade.
- Make sure that you have reviewed the guidance on standards, objectives and key tasks before the appraisal discussion.
- Appraisees should be briefed about Faculty/ Directorate/School plans.
- Gather evidence on the appraisee’s performance.
- Be clear about the feedback you wish to give to the appraisee.
- In the context of agreed standards have an open and honest discussion.
- Identify strengths, weaknesses and barriers to improvement.
- Have regard to the Queen’s Professional Standards which define how all staff should behave, wherever they work, whatever they do.
- Consider your appraisee’s level of development and in the case of academic colleagues consult the promotions profiles.
- Plan how you will assist the appraisee to improve their performance.
The Appraisal Discussion
The appraisal discussion should enable open and constructive dialogue between appraisee and appraiser.
The discussion is divided into three parts:
- Reviewing past performance and agreeing a summary statement
- Agreeing new objectives for the next year
- Agreeing development needs
The emphasis in reviewing performance is on giving constructive feedback based on evidence and on encouraging reflective learning on the part of the appraisee.
- First the appraiser should explain the format of the discussion.
- In reviewing the appraisee’s performance the appraiser should lead the discussion by using open questions and affording the appraisee the opportunity to provide full responses drawing on the available evidence.
- The appraisee should be allowed an opportunity to make some points in summary.
- If the appraiser disagrees with the appraisee's perceptions, he/she should ask questions which focus the discussion on evidence of achievements, with a view to encouraging reflection on the part of the appraisee.
- The appraiser should be specific in summary about his/her own views and should make comments supported by evidence at appropriate points in the discussion. Should the appraiser feel that there are performance shortfalls he/she should explore the reasons for such shortfalls.
- All discussion should take place with the objective of reaching an agreed view.
- Appraisers should actively encourage comments and questions from the appraisee and ensure that there are key point summaries made throughout the discussion.
- In giving feedback, it is important to highlight good performance and seek to have a balance in the discussion. Negative criticism should be avoided and will only have the effect of shutting down communication.
Queen’s Professional Standards
Queen’s Professional Standards are a set of values and behaviours which help lead staff to successful performance in the job. As part of the appraisal discussion the ‘Queen’s Professional Standards’ is a reference guide that can be used when discussing effective and less effective behaviour with others, providing staff with clear expectations about what is required to be successful in their jobs.
When reviewing performance, in the context of the ‘Queen’s Professional Standards’ it is worth noting the following points. Queen’s Professional Standards :
- focus on how tasks are achieved, not, what is achieved.
- describe a range of different types of behaviour which are relevant to all job categories, roles and grades of staff.
- They provide a common language describing the attributes displayed by individuals.
- The manager, in the context of the individual’s role will discuss the standard of behaviour that is expected for that grade and type of role.
- The standard of behaviour should be within the remit of the appraisee’s role and grade, compatible with their responsibilities.
Advice on Good Practice
- Points to consider are:
- Check out all major concerns.
- Use open questions to encourage discussion.
- Check out understanding often.
- Comparisons where made should reflect benchmarking (internal or external). Personal comparison should be avoided.
- Summarise often.
- Be sure you have agreement before moving on to another topic.
- Avoid stating opinions.
- Seek to make the seating arrangement relaxed and non-confrontational.
- Take notes.
- Ensure there are no interruptions.
- Make any special arrangements if required.
Agreeing New Objectives for the Next Year
The purpose of objective setting is to ensure the achievement of Faculty/Directorate/School/University targets and plans.
At the beginning of the academic year Senior Management should ensure that all appropriate staff are made aware of the key goals to be addressed within their respective approved Faculty, Directorate, School Plan. Senior managers should ensure that appropriate consultation has taken place within each Faculty, Directorate, School.
Individual objectives and key tasks/activities are the primary yardstick against which the appraisee's progress and achievement are monitored and assessed. Appraisers are responsible for guiding their colleagues towards the achievement of objectives and key tasks/activities, and agreeing revisions and amendments and amending these where necessary due to unforeseen circumstances or changed priorities.
What Makes a Good Objective?
Objectives set should clearly indicate which achievements are expected at the end of the period. It is important, if commitment to objectives is to be gained, that the process is seen as reasonable and fair, and that advice is given on 'how to get there'. Objective setting should cover the totality of the role otherwise the risk exists that a person may focus on the set objectives to the detriment of everything else.
Good objectives should be:
Specific and related to Institutional priorities and standards.
Measurable with clear metrics and outcomes understood.
Achievable though they should provide stretch for the individual.
Relevant to the School/Directorate standards, objectives and targets.
Timed, should be clearly time-bounded.
Types of Objective
In setting objectives it is important to bear in mind the critical strategic targets set out in the School/Directorate Plan and to which the individual makes a contribution.
Improvement: doing something we already do, but doing it 'better'. Appraisal should specify what element will be better, how it will be done, to what level improvement should be reached and by when.
Maintenance: doing something at the same high standard.
Development: doing something completely new, or developing an existing activity into a new direction. Here the appraiser needs to ensure the objective is still relevant to the School/Directorate Plan and helps the individual work towards a balanced portfolio of achievement.
Key Tasks: Key tasks are the main activities a member of staff does to support the achievement of objectives. Typically there might be three or four associated with each objective. They break the objective down into for example statements about key processes; methods of management or communication, resource usage or key steps to achieving the main objective.
The appraiser will review the objectives to ensure that they:
- Contribute to Faculty/ Directorate/School Plan.
- Are consistent with the range of activities which the individual is undertaking.
- Are appropriate to the individual and the stage he/she is at in his/her career.
Evidence of Achievement of Objectives/Measurable Outcomes/Milestones
For an objective to be measurable, it is important to determine at the outset how it will be measured - i.e. the evidence that will be provided to demonstrate achievement. This should form an integral part of the objective-setting process and be recorded in the appropriate section.
The collection of evidence should not be an onerous task. The appraisee should use, wherever possible, existing sources of data. (For example, achievement of objectives related to teaching could be supported by evidence generated from student assessments or from peer assessment (if the individual participates in them) or evidence of progress toward Research Targets).
Agreeing Development Needs
Agreeing development needs is integral to the appraisal process.
- Staff development should not be considered as something that only new staff or staff that are struggling or underperforming need.
- Employee development should be an on-going process aimed at supporting sustained excellent performance as well as to facilitate excellence.
- Development Plans provide a link between employee development and Institutional performance.
- Development is the responsibility of both the individual and the appraiser. Realistic development plans need to be put in place.