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Interesting performance appraisal training


I'm designing a performance appraisal worksop to deliver to managers / appraisers shortly.

Do any of you have information about some effective exercises I can use? The groups will contain 6-8 managers. All fairly inexperienced in appraising staff. I'm looking for something, practical, interactive, enjoyable yet effective!

Any tips on how to liven these potentially tedious sessions up?

Hope you can help.


sarah jennings

9 Responses

  1. Make it personal
    The more you can get the individuals to relate to what they’re doing the less tedious they’ll find it. Get them to rewrite New Year’s Resolutions as SMART Objectives. They can then write each other development plans based on these.

    Personally, I get the paperwork side of it over with as quickly as possible (you can find an article about how to take the pain out of appraisal paperwork at

  2. Spot the difference
    Hi Sarah, I’ve tried a few different sessions on appraisal training and the following exercise always goes well.

    Firstly get the group to flipchart the general outline of an appraisal and put into into different sections. They will cover things like: setting the scene, invite self appraisal, reviewing objectives, review PDP, set new objectives etc.

    Next, split the group into pairs, allocate a section to each pair (eg. setting the scene) and ask the pair to demonstrate a short role play with a poor performing manager conducting this section badly and then the best practice performance. The idea is that the rest of the group guess which one was poort (its pretty obvious), then dissect the performances and understand what best practice looks like.

    I’ve always seen some fantastic, hilarious, performances when it comes to the ‘poor manager’ and the sad thing is these things really happen. As long as the group are willing participants, this is always good fun and great learning.

  3. Ask them
    Hi Sarah,
    i have been running a series of performance management training sessions and the delegate feedback indicates the most effective parts are one on one role plays where each take turn as appraiser and appraisee. The topics are selected in response to the question “What situation have you encountered or are worried about that we can use to practice skills today” The review highlights just about every part of the programme. They work in pairs at the same time-not one pair in front of others.
    Not inspirational but usually works very well.
    Good luck

  4. pre-history

    I agree with all the previous comments entirely and would also suggest adding a slightly different dimension.

    Often the reasons appraisals are feared/resented/”only done because HR say we have to” is because people don’t see any benefit.

    I ask the managers who are undergoing appraisal training to identify the benefits that effective appraisal can bring to:
    a) the organisation
    b) them as managers
    c) their staff (day to day and career)
    d)their clients/customers

    I also get them to try to quantify what these benefits might add up to. It is a real eye opener.

    If your appraisal includes “development needs” it is also valuable to get them to think beyond a training course. Often they don’t which explains why so often those development needs don’t get met over the following 12 months; because there is not enough budget/time/commitment

    Hope these help

  5. Performance appraisal exercises
    I do a fun ‘Waiter ratings’ exercise that takes delegates, in small groups, completely outside their work by asking them to assess the performance of a waiter in a restaurant, when taking meal orders. It practises: describing actual behaviour you see/hear; categorising the behaviours into ratings; discussing behaviours against other delegates’ standards (standard levelling) to minimise subjectivity in assessment. This exercise then dovetails into the ‘Ratings 2’ exercise with delegates assessing work behaviour, and categorising into ratings.

    If you, or any other zone member, would like to email me (, I can send you a copy of the exercise with powerpoint slide/notes support.
    Hope that helps.
    Happy Days!

  6. Tea and Toast
    If your Performance Management is competency based try the Tea and Toast exercise. This explores the idea of competencies required to carry out an everyday task.

    Email for a copy.

  7. thank you…..and James Smith
    Thank you everybody for the suggestions so far. They’re very helpful and I will certainly be using the ideas.

    If there are any more ideas still out there, they will be very gratefully received!

    In the meantime, a message for James Smith: your ‘tea & toast’ activity sounds very interesting. More details would be great. I did try to e-mail you via the address in ‘who’s who’, but it didn’t get through. Would you be kind enough to confirm the address through which I should contact you?

    Thank you


  8. Rembering the learning
    Hi Just a quick note as everyone has indicated making the course as engaging as possible is critical.
    Infact you could go one stage further and check out a Video Arts appraisal programme via
    This includes a course leaders guide which will emcompass all the messages that you will need to get accross as well as ensuring that the delegates are engaged.

    take a look and see what you think

    best of luck

    Bradley Silver


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