Margaret Adams

Are #FE appraisals any use or are they a waste of time, both for the person conducting the appraisal and for the person being appraised? Whatever you think at the moment, here are four things to consider, if you can, before your next appraisal takes place.

One: Why Do Appraisals Exist?

In its simplest form an appraisal is there because it asks the question:

“How am I doing?”

If you are being appraised, you are looking for the organisation’s judgement on your recent work. This is vital. You want to know how you are perceived in your #FE organisation. If you are the person conducting the appraisal you are asking the same question of someone further up the #FE hierarchy.

There is another important question to ask:

“What could I do next?”

People being appraised should be able to ask the question about their future careers in their appraisals. This is a good time to look closely at what you want in the future. #FE managers should ask more senior managers the same question when they are appraised.

Two: Review And Preparation

Before you take part in any appraisal activity you need to look at what you have done and what you have achieved. This is the case if you are being appraised. You would also expect someone conducting the appraisal to have done his or her homework about you.

Conduct a review of yourself prior to your appraisal. That will mean you know which subjects have to be covered. These things are worth doing. Here’s an example from someone who is being appraised.

“I currently teach (details) to (specify) groups. I don’t like the curriculum we are now teaching. We’ve changed examining boards and with that change has come a different sort of syllabus. The new syllabus is just not working. Some students have left our groups, and my group in particular. I mentioned at my last appraisal what was happening.”

There would be plenty to talk about here but the person speaking was probably just sounding off. He or she does not seem to know what appraisals are for.

The most important point to note is how to deal with the issues raised above, without resorting to platitudes. If you are the person conducting the appraisal, you need to deal with the points raised rather than telling someone to just carry on and say:

“These things happen.”

Three: Avoiding The Interview

For some people in #FE the appraisal is something to be avoided. In my experience I have known people to say:

“Sorry, I have to teach now. No, I could not give the group some work and leave them. We’ll have to reschedule our appraisal meeting.”


“I’m on a committee at the local authority. I need to attend. Unfortunately, the meeting is at the same time as you have booked my appraisal, so we’ll need to reschedule.”

The list is endless. What these statements and others like them say is that the appraisals in that organisation are not very good. They are not considered to be of value. The examples above reinforce the idea of appraisals having minimal value. In those cases people don’t make time for appraisals

In this sort of situation action is needed.

If you have been involved in the appraisal process for some time, do you know what those involved in the process want out of it? If you don’t, or if commitments have been made in the past and not acted upon, you know why people avoid their appraisals.

You will also know that, at work, life is always changing. Appraisals can help in this circumstance.

Four: After The Appraisal

Whatever is promised must be followed up. If you cannot do what you have committed to do, the whole appraisal system will be devalued.

The most important thing to do is to check that what you have asked for has been acknowledged. Appraisers can ask those who have been appraised how they are getting on with what they said they wanted to do. Those people can ask if their appraiser has spoken to the people he or she agreed to contact.

The appraisal interview is not the end of the appraisal process. In both roles what is expected to happen needs to be actioned.

In The End . . .

Appraisals are useful because they review what has happened in someone’s recent career. They also consider a person’s future in #FE. People who avoid appraisals are often making a big mistake by doing so. It IS possible to control the appraisal interview if you are being appraised. It is also great if the appraiser clearly has a plan for the discussion.

Plan to cover the essential items when you next have an appraisal interview whichever role you have. Also take a look at this checklist.

  1. Review and prepare
  2. Have issues ready to discuss
  3. Plan for the future.
  4. Follow up on what is agreed,
  5. Make sure things happen.

Follow the advice if you can.

In answer to the question about how useful appraisals are, you get a lot out of any appraisal if you are well-prepared.


Margaret Adams MA FCIPD, Founder, The Adams Consultancy Limited

Margaret Adams spent more than seventeen years working in education. She was a college manager when she left the FE sector. Today, she spends much of her time helping professionals use LinkedIn  achieve their personal and professional goals. 

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