DRAFT How to: switch from annual appraisals to regular check-ins

Roly Walter
30th June 2017

The world is moving away from the old once-a-year annual appraisal, and in most cases rightly so. Thousands of words have been written already on the subject, so I'm not going to repeat them and instead offer a practical guide.

Some of the tips will make more sense for Appraisd customers, but others should find them useful to.


Identify your own fears and those of others before you start the process. Most likely a move away from annual appraisals will be met with delight - but you may also find a surprising amount of resistance.

  • Do you need ratings or scores once a year to calculate performance related pay? Again, the world is moving away from this but you may find one department that is not ready to do so
  • Do you need to do a 'stock take' once a year on matters like compliance with legislature, health and safety or anti-money laundering? If so, you may need to create a new annual process to gather that information (you can of course use Appraisd for this)
  • Do you conduct annual promotion boards?
  • Are there department heads who like numbers and figures in order to establish succession paths? If so, you'll need to work creatively on how you build this into a smaller regular check-in or run a separate process

Prototyping the new process

Once you've covered the risks and you're ready to move forward, you'll want to test your new approach. Get your new configuration online in Appraisd and try it out. Changes you'll want to make include:

Create a check-in form
You can either use the same form for everyone or create small variations for different user groups. Try to keep the total number of questions to three or below.

The purpose of the form is to tease out the important and urgent things that need to be address to to give the manager a chance to recognise the employee's progress and contribution. Any questions that fulfil this will work. Keep the text short - this will encourage concise answers too. Resist the temptation to add pages of guidance - this should go in a pop-up or an "aside".

On our suggested form we have:

  1. How are you getting on with your objectives (which shows a list of objectives to comment on)?
  2. What's gone well recently?
  3. Anything on your mind we should tackle?
  4. (For the appraiser to complete) What next steps have we agreed?

You can easily create a sample form in Admin > Forms > Add a new form:

Change your configuration
Change your configuration to allow employees and managers to set up check ins without your intervention. Alternatively or in addition, create a cycle that automatically prompts people to have a check-in every four, six or 12 weeks - whatever you think will work for you. At Appraisd, we always favour employee/manager ownership and much less control from HR. Here are some of the settings you'll need:

  • Configuration > Appraisal cycle > Managers can set up new appraisals
  • Configuration > Appraisal cycle > Employees can set up their next appraisal themselves
  • Configuration > Advanced > Enable instant check-ins
  • Configuration > Advanced > Employees can set up their own check-ins

In Admin Centre > Forms, make sure you have at least on Quick Review form enabled:

Once you've made these configuration changes, the effects will be immediate. If you're not happy allowing users see the new buttons on Appraisd, you could create a new Appraisd sandbox account to try them out separately.

For testing, ask a few managers to try out the new process and form. Make sure you give these trial participants the full communications you would to the rest of the organisation so they understand the concept and can give you useful feedback.

Communication and launch

When you're happy with the process you now need to communicate and launch the new process. As with anything, try to keep the wording concise and the tone fresh and friendly to match the concept of check-ins in general.

  • State that you are responding to feedback received on the previous appraisal process
  • Don't over-criticise the previous process but do point out the flaws if that's helpful to win people over
  • Emphasise the handing over of responsibility to employees and managers
  • Emphasise that this is because engagement, performance management and personal development is more important than ever

Buy in


Configuring Appraisd


Deactivate old forms

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