Tips for Conducting People-First Performance Appraisals

4 min read

Dreaded yearly review? You’re not alone. Performance appraisals are often seen as a daunting task by both managers and employees alike. However, with the right mindset and approach, performance appraisals can be transformed into a positive and productive experience for everyone involved.

However, the stats do not lie:

  • 75% of employees believe that feedback is valuable for their professional growth, yet only 14% of employees feel that their performance reviews motivate them to improve their work. (Gallup)
  • 44% of employees feel more engaged when their managers hold regular review meetings with them, yet only 29% of employees know whether their performance meets expectations, and just 50% are aware if they are performing well in their roles (Workhuman)


The stats demonstrate the importance and potential impact of performance appraisals. Rather than a dreaded task to check off the list, leaders should ask the question:

Is our performance review process designed to get the most out of people? And for people to get the most out of this job? In other words, is it people-first, which focuses on empathy and understanding, supportive leadership, inclusivity, and appreciation and recognition.

10 People-First Performance Tips:

🎯 Align with company objectives and purpose: Make sure that individual goals and performance metrics are aligned with the broader company objectives and purpose. This ensures that everyone is working towards the same overall mission and vision.

🀝 Collaborate on goals: Rather than setting top-down objectives, involve employees in the goal-setting process. This allows them to have ownership over their work and feel more motivated to achieve those goals.

🌟 Focus on strengths: Rather than solely pointing out weaknesses, take the time to also acknowledge an employee’s strengths and how they have contributed to the team or company. Recognise that each employee is unique and may require different support and development opportunities.

πŸ•°οΈ Provide regular feedback: Instead of waiting for annual reviews, make sure to provide timely feedback throughout the year with regular check-ins. This shows that you are invested in your employees’ growth and development.

πŸ’¬ Encourage open communication: Employees should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas during a performance appraisal. This creates a culture of transparency and trust.

πŸ” Values-aligned behaviours: Focus on specific behaviours rather than labelling someone as “good” or “bad.” Ensure these behaviours align with company values for performance measurement based on actual work practices.

❀️ Show appreciation: Regularly recognise and appreciate employees’ hard work and achievements. This boosts morale and encourages continued high performance.

πŸš€ Discuss future opportunities: Use performance appraisals as an opportunity to discuss career advancement and potential opportunities for employees within the company. This shows that you are invested in their long-term success.

πŸ“š Provide development resources: Offer resources such as training programmes, workshops, and online courses to help employees improve their skills and competencies.

πŸ€— Promote work-life balance: Acknowledge the importance of a healthy work-life balance and encourage employees to take care of their well-being. This shows that you care about their overall happiness and productivity.

Things to Consider Before You Start

Rolling out an effective performance appraisal process involves considering various elements, so having a well-thought-out plan is key. For example, how will you set short-term goals (30, 60, or 90 days)? How will you track results to drive growth? Consider replacing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). When will managers receive adequate training on active listening, constructive feedback, and conflict resolution? How will you track and monitor goals?


By following these tips and considerations, your performance appraisal process will become a valuable tool for employee development and growth. This approach not only shows employees that you are dedicated to their success but also supports a people-first culture. And we’re huge fans of companies who prioritise this.

Case Study

HappyHQ recently assisted Ellis Wines in adopting new culture practices to enhance both business impact and team performance. From guiding the team in setting individual and company goals through OKRs, to leadership training, team communications, and monthly manager check-ins, and a new people-focused review system. These efforts ensured that Ellis Wines’ values are not only integrated into daily operations but also form a core part of its future vision.

Read the full case study here.

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