As a manager, it’s never easy to tell someone they need to improve their performance. No one likes being criticised. This can be one of the hardest challenges you’ll face as an appraiser during your performance appraisal process. Simply starting the difficult conversation can be hard enough; handling the conversation to ensure it becomes a positive discussion can be even harder. It is possible though! 

Ideally, when the performance appraisal meeting takes place, any issues that could lead difficult conversations should have already been addressed. There shouldn’t be any surprises coming up in the conversation at the performance appraisal meeting.

Regular, open communication during the year between appraiser and employee is essential. Difficult conversations often start because a staff member wasn’t expecting to hear an appraiser’s feedback and didn’t have a chance to prepare properly for it.

Here are some simple tips that make handling difficult conversations during appraisal meetings a whole lot easier.

This simple mnemonic should help to stop difficult conversations coming up during the appraisal meeting. Prepare thoroughly before the appraisal to ensure you cover each step –

B  Behaviour – Establish what the person is doing or not doing that is unacceptable. Ideally, you get the employee to explain this to you rather you dictating the problem to them.

E  Effect – Discuss why the behaviour is unacceptable and how it affects productivity or bothers others. Use real events and back your pints up with facts.

E  Expectation – Explain what you expect the person to do to change for the better. Get them to buy into this by inviting them to contribute their own expectations too.

R  Result – Be clear about what will happen if the person changes or the consequences if the poor behaviour or performance continues.

Always end the appraisal meeting on a high point. Everyone has done something well!


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