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If you are employed, your organisation is likely to have some form of appraisal process and, if so, you will be involved in that - certainly on the receiving end and possibly on the 'doing' end.  If you are interested in learning and development, or simply in making your job more enjoyable, you need to get the best out of the system.


You will probably already know that an appraisal is supposed to be two-way feedback and both parties, the appraisor and the appraisee, are there to focus on how to do something (even) better.  As part of this, you may identify training and education needs.  This can be very helpful to both parties and, if you both talk about things openly and constructively, can mean:

  • Square pegs can be moved out of round holes into square holes

  • The ambitious can be told what their next steps must be

  • Those who are not meeting the needs of the current job as stated in the job description can be told what they need to do to improve.

Before worrying too much about what you can get out of your own appraisal, think about the role of the appraiser.

The appraiser's role

If you have ever wondered what an appraiser is told to do, it is usually quite simple.  You were appointed to do a job that should have a written job description and some written objectives.  You either do that job or you do not.  The appraiser is expected to determine if you do each part of the job, how well you do it and what training or support you need so that the company can achieve its goals.  It is not really about 'you' it is about how well the job that needs to be done by "someone" is actually being done. The objectives will be reviewed and, if necessary, new objectives will be set. 

The personal part of the appraisal is where the appraiser suggests or discusses with you what training or development you need in order to fulfil the job or to advance your career. The appraiser may also give some general feedback on your contribution to the company/organisation and most will do so because it is always nicer to say, "Well, you seem to be a popular member of the team" than to say, "Your timekeeping is unacceptable."


First, if you know your job description and what you actually do are two different jobs, then this is the time to say so. You can be constructive about it with phrases such as: "The expansion/change in my role means that the forms do not quite match and I would like to discuss the differences to formalise it and create new criteria..."


If your job description does match what you are meant to be doing, then your task is simpler.  Be ready to say what you think is going well and why.  Be ready with examples.  Be ready to say what you think is going badly and why.  Again, be ready with examples.  If you have been using a learning portfolio, use this to help you prepare because it should be full of examples.  Just pick one or two of the best.  If you have not been using a learning portfolio, you can still use the simple version to help you reflect on what you have been doing and what you want from the interview.


At all times, be ready to listen to what your appraiser has to say.  They may disagree with you but they, also, should be able to give examples and those should be relevant to the job description.


At the end of the interview, you will have a list of objectives and these can be added to your learning portfolio either as they are, or reworded in a way that suits you and makes them more personal and more like a chance to learn something new.  For example:

    'Keep team motivated to reduce wastage in line with departmental objectives'

                can be changed to

    'Become effective at motivating all my team members'.


Also, when the interview is over, take some time to reflect on the interview itself as a learning experience.  What, if anything, would you do differently next time?


If you need to refresh your memory about the reflective learning cycle, try this short activity.