Performance Appraisal Checklist for New Managers

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Path 5 in 7 Paths to Managerial Leadership: Doing Well by Doing It Right examines best practices for the performance appraisal.

A personal effectiveness appraisal needs to take place every time a direct report completes a key task or brings a problem of a task assignment for reconsideration. This discussion provides an ongoing appraisal of the employee’s personal effectiveness. The manager’s collection of significant events of this kind is the basis for the manager’s periodic informal reviews. At a minimum, each direct report should have a midyear and annual review.

Don’t know where to start? Use this checklist to improve the informal and formal performance appraisal of your direct reports.


  • Keep a performance folder on each direct report and include any notes, comments, and discussions that have occurred with the employee throughout the year. This should include both positive and negative issues. This gives the annual appraisal meeting a foundation of specific incidents and helps to focus on objective data instead of personal opinions.
  • Give direct reports ample notice before the annual appraisal meeting date and encourage them to prepare for the meeting.
  • Allow direct reports sufficient time to express their views on their effectiveness during the meeting. Listen actively to what they have to say and let them know their concerns have been heard.
  • Separate salary issues from the performance appraisal meeting. The meeting should be on the individual’s past performance and potential future growth in the role. Discussing salary issues at this time changes the focus to one of monetary concerns and away from performance.
  • Plan and do a midyear appraisal. This helps bring the direct report up to date on any performance issues that need improvement and any task assignments that need revision. Waiting for a once-a-year annual appraisal is less effective and not recommended.
  • Plan how the formal meeting will happen. Focus on two things: the accomplishment of the tasks assigned to the role and the development of the individual in the role.
  • Have the formal meeting in a neutral setting, not across the desk in a manager-employee positioning. Hold all phone calls and make sure there are no other interruptions. Give the employee the opportunity to feel equal in terms of communicating facts, opinions, and feelings.
  • Keep in mind that there are subtle distortions that could distract from a proper appraisal, such as: 

a tendency to judge overall effectiveness based on the employee’s most recent behavior 

judging all employees at or near average

giving only above-average ratings to avoid confrontation.

To learn more about the seven paths, check out the 7 Paths to Managerial Leadership: Doing Well by Doing It Right.

About the Author
Fred Mackenzie has decades of experience as an executive with Mobil Oil; Training House, a major publisher of instructional programs and assessments; and MLI, a contract manufacturer for GE, Kodak, and IBM. His consulting experience is in three major areas: managerial leadership, succession planning, and strategic planning. Fred has undergraduate degrees in psychology and geological engineering, master’s degrees in personnel psychology and micropaleontology, and a PhD in psychology. He has served on the faculties of Cornell University’s Advanced Management Program, Oxford University’s Institute for Advanced Managerial Studies, and Henley Management College, U.K. 
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