CPD workshop: Getting appraisal and performance management right

Written by: Steve Burnage | Published:
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In this regular article, Steve Burnage talks us through CPD workshop ideas that can be adapted for your school. This time he looks at how to get appraisal practices right

The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of a 45-minute interactive training session to develop the skills and knowledge of those new to middle leadership. The training outline is below while the slides and a participant’s handout are available from the SecEd website (see above).

Slides 1 & 2: Welcome & Outcomes from today

In most schools, it is part of a middle leader’s role to manage the performance of others. This is often done through formal and informal conversations that go together to form an appraisal of that person. By the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of effective appraisals.
  • Describe a useful structure for the appraisal.
  • Recognise the skills of effective appraisals.
  • Suggest how appraisals can be followed up.

Slide 3: Why do we need appraisal?

Activity: Consider your middle leadership role:

  • Why do we need to manage the performance of people in our teams?
  • What do we mean by appraisal?
  • What do you like about your own appraisal?
  • What would you like to change about the way your performance management is conducted?

Remember: bad performance management is seen as a one-off event that is done to people. Good performance management is an on-going improvement conversation.

Slide 4: Effective appraisals

Effective appraisals are: fair, cover the whole job, cover the whole period, have equal input from both parties, are confidential, are constructive, focus on the past and the future, are open-minded, are structured, are not rushed, and are followed up.

Activity: Think about your own appraisal and the RAG (red-amber-green) rating system: how would you rate each of the criteria above for your own performance management? What would it take to move the red areas to amber and the amber areas to green? Why do you think the green areas are consistently good?

Slide 5: Structuring an appraisal

Introduction: putting the individual at ease, building rapport, explaining what will happen (see slide 6).

Past performance: review performance against previous objectives, standards or competences, review of the whole period, presentation of evidence by both parties, two-way discussion to explore and understand viewpoints (see slide 7).

Future plans: discussion of school/team objectives and goals for the coming year, identify the individual’s own career aspirations, agreement of any gaps in performance that need to be addressed (see slide 8).

Next steps: setting development objectives to address gaps and move towards aspirations, allocation of specific duties,agreeing review dates for follow up, completion of paperwork (see slide 9).

Slide 6: The introduction

The introduction sets the tone for the whole meeting. So say thank you and check that the other person is comfortable. Explain how long the meeting will be, its structure, and what the outputs will be. Explain that the purpose of the meeting is:

  • To have an open and honest conversation about performance and behaviours demonstrated.
  • To identify strengths and development areas in terms of performance and behaviours.
  • To agree a development plan.

Slide 7: Past performance

This stage should give the appraisee a chance to celebrate their success. Remember: any concerns you might have should be raised as they occur and not at this meeting. Use this part of the meeting to:

  • Find out how the individual feels the last six to 12 months have gone.
  • Ask them what has gone well. Ask them what has not gone well or what difficulties they have faced.
  • Provide feedback based on your own observations or other evidence. Have a two-way discussion about this evidence and the reasons for it. Explore any differences of opinion.
  • Make notes about what is said and specific examples that are shared.
  • If appropriate, agree performance ratings.

Slide 8: Future plans

  • Explain the goals/plans/objectives of the school/team and what this means for the individual.
  • Highlight any areas of underperformance.
  • Ask the individual about their career aspirations or things they would like to do.
  • Prioritise CPD based on relevance to the school’s areas for development and that of your team.

Slide 9: Next steps

  • Agree three or four specific (SMART) development objectives (see slides 13, 14).
  • Assign responsibilities, deadlines and review dates.
  • Agree when the paperwork/forms will be signed off by both parties.
  • Complete any paperwork/appraisal forms.
  • Put review dates in your diary.
  • Review development actions and modify them if necessary.

Slide 10: Let’s appraise!

Activity: Work in pairs taking the roles of appraiser and appraisee. Work through each stage of the appraisal conversation then review what went well and those areas you need to develop further.

Slide 11: Key appraisal skills

  • Eye contact: keep eye contact and do not be distracted by other tasks, use of laptop or note-taking. Give them your full concentration.
  • A two-way conversation: encourage the appraisee to talk first, listen carefully to what is being said, and check you understand.
  • Listen: so often we miss important information because we think we know what is about to be said. Have an open mind and be ready to learn.
  • Evaluation: ensure conversations are based on evidence, not emotion.
  • Accurate paperwork: record everything accurately and as soon as possible. Get the other party to sign the paperwork to show agreement, making alterations as necessary.

Slide 12: Three golden rules

  1. Praise should be given and concerns should be addressed as soon as they occur.
  2. Performance appraisal is just part of performance management, so...
  3. ...there should be no surprises at an appraisal.

Slides 13 & 14: SMART targets

Activity: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Rewrite the objectives below to “SMART-en” them (suggested answers in italics). More example objectives to rewrite can be found on the slides:

  1. Develop my teaching to support better numeracy. (Include a numeracy activity in each of my lessons and measure the impact over one term.)
  2. To improve my communication skills (Ask my team for feedback on how well I listen to them and what I can do to improve this over the next two terms.)

Slide 15: Making it work

Activity: What are your three key learning points from this CPD? What will you change?SecEd


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