When someone asks you for an appraisal, if you’re going to do it, do it properly.
There are references and there are appraisals.
An appraisal shows how you feel about the individual’s work, but more importantly it also shows how you feel about them as a person. A half-hearted appraisal can destroy a relationship just as much as a good one can create a bond for life and be instrumental in moving talented people forwards.
A reference is a letter from you, to someone you’ve never met, where you are basically saying is, yes, I’d work with this person again and I trust them to do a good job anywhere they go. So if you really don’t believe that this is the case, don’t write a reference.
Do not give a reference or an appraisal that is not honest. References and appraisals reflect on you as much as they reflect on the person you are appraising.
Sometimes internal appraisals must be done for annual reviews and must be balanced. Showing achievements and good points, but on the flip side, the other purpose of the appraisal is to help the person you are appraising to improve, and that involves critical review. Not criticism but supportive assessment of their performace during the assessment period.
Below is a sample of a “Stakeholder Review” I wrote recently. Hopefully this will be a good template for your next review or appraisal and can also be used for writing a reference.
Stakeholder Feedback for <appraisee>
Project: <Project Name>
Delivery Item: <Work Delivered>
Period of Work From: <Work Start>
Period of Work To: <Work Finish>
Overall I am extremely happy with the project delivery by <appraisee>, he is a thorough, delivery oriented team member and manager who is capable of juggling timelines and priorities from many different sources at the same time within the project.
His approach to items requested was comprehensive and detailed, he insists that the process must follow the <Company Name> standards, which is very good.
<appraisee> thinks through ideas to their conclusion and insists that all decisions must be reflected in the specifications to ensure no misunderstandings in the process at a later stage. This was appreciated by the team.
He went above and beyond what one could reasonably expect from his position, contributing an outstanding amount of personal time to the project and motivating the <Team Name> team to do the same. He is very good at stakeholder management, consulting with peers and seniors at the right times when necessary. He is adept at reading the air and communicates with others using language he knows they will accept. I can see that others in the <Team Name> trust him and he is able to be strong and logical, pushing back when necessary. He uses virtuous persuasion rather than escalation to garnish cooperation with others. He is able to remain cool under pressure and sticks to his common sense principles.
<appraisee> had very good communication skills in terms of reaching out by phone whenever clarification was needed and this eliminated any communication issues on the project between Japan and <Other Country>. He was very clear in his questions and requests and there was no rework required due to issues of communication. He was also available when needed and picked up the phone when contacted, turning communication items into actions and delivery very quickly.
The timeliness of his responses was very good and answers were always provided as to contribute to the delivery timeline of the project. With multiple open delivery items I felt that <appraisee> was able to handle multiple priorities at the same time, giving attention to those items first that needed to be prioritized ahead of others on the project.
The quality of <appraisee>’s work was very high and I felt that there was no re-work required due to his or the team’s mistakes. The turn round time of requested changes was very fast and I felt that <appraisee> was quick to make changes and those changes did not require multiple instances of re-work.
The requirements were changing somewhat from the original specifications and <appraisee> did his best to accommodate all the requirements. I felt that he was sincere in his efforts to accommodate change and willing to compromise where possible. It was to the benefit of the project that where he was unable to compromise, he would propose an alternative solution that was well thought out.
I felt that <appraisee> worked effectively with his co-workers, and demonstrated effective interpersonal skills. He effectively solved complex problems in a timely manner and appeared to be motivated by his work-related tasks, his job overall, and his professional relationships both internal to and external from the project.
His work methods and approaches to accomplishing the project tasks were effective, efficient, and seemed to be continuously improving. He worked well with others on the project and made a thorough plan, then following through with accomplishment. <appraisee> prioritized action items and work, in general, and then, followed through on the priorities set. <appraisee> contributed to the successful and effective functioning of the project overall as well as demonstrated effective management and technical leadership skills.
I feel that others can depend on <appraisee> to keep team commitments, and I felt that <appraisee>’s team are also working with <appraisee> in line with the goals of the project and the team.
He performed a number of different tasks and priorities with ease and was effective at managing his time.
<appraisee> demonstrated commercial sensitivity and understand commercial impacts of his work in understanding what a delay would mean to the project and increasing his pace and commitment to match this impact. <appraisee> demonstrated the required level of Product/Technical knowledge on the project, however I would recommend that his department hold training sessions to increase the knowledge of all the tools available to each member to keep his skills relevant in the market and keep <appraisee> engaged in his role. We don’t want to lose him to a competitor who may offer more up-to-date technology opportunities.
<appraisee> demonstrated an appropriate aptitude for planning of his work output, and appropriate attention to required administration tasks such as leave planning and meeting setting. While technically very competent, I feel that I would like to see additional management training to ensure <appraisee> is able to keep his skills in line with the requirements of <Company Name> and up-to-date with those in the market.
<appraisee> is able to demonstrate appropriate approaches to delegating work by confirming back actions of all participants in calls and meetings. He demonstrated an appropriate level of commitment to meeting deadlines and meeting commitments with suitable creativity in his work products and approaches. As is common in <Company Name>, he does need to focus on documentation not related to his direct work product such as meeting minutes and summarization of information.
He demonstrates appropriate energy and determination toward his deliverables and an above average rate of work output while his responses to pressure situations had very effective and positive results.
<appraisee> demonstrated an appropriate level of integrity in his behaviours and relationships and had the capability to adapt, be flexible and change as the situation changed. He demonstrated an appropriate understanding of his corporate responsibilities and upholds high ethical standards. He understands <Company Name>’s compliance requirements and is able to coach others in helping the team to maintain these standards and requirements including vendors to help them comply with <Company Name> standards.
In order to evolve I recommend training courses on management, project management and cross project planning in addition to attending departmental courses on available tech.
While I am very happy with <appraisee>’s performance and would undoubtedly work with <appraisee> again as a valued team member, in order to assist with his career moving forward at <Company Name>, I can suggest the following improvement points. These are not criticisms or negative ratings as I feel that <appraisee> performed exceptionally well, but rather to assist in his personal development.
- Quality of Documentation. At <Company Name>, being a multi-lingual, global company, the quality of documentation is important, I would like to see <appraisee> improve on the quality and comprehensiveness of documentation via a training course such that materials are always of the highest standard and will stand the test of time.
Overall I believe that with the right training over the next couple of years, <appraisee>’s natural ability to stay calm and deliver will make him a good candidate for a management position.
The management skills needed must come from not only on the job training, but as an investment by <Company Name> in formal training in methodologies and techniques.