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Formal & Informal Appraisals

Frequenty Asked Questions

Formal & Informal Appraisals

The method of appraisal can vary from very informal to a highly formal and structured procedure. The type of appraisal system that best suits your organisation will depend on:

  • the size and type of organisation;
  • which employees and job types are being appraised;
  • training and development policies, procedures and resources;
  • the access and availability of appraisal expertise to provide input into the desired system;
  • the management capability and time available to make a formal system work; and
  • whether existing informal systems work adequately.

FORMAL

A formal appraisal system involves setting guidelines, meetings and interviews, forms, times for review, assessment systems and reporting.
For more information on this, please refer to our Template – Performance appraisal meeting record in this section.

INFORMAL

An informal appraisal approach relies on impromptu meetings and discussions, consultation, coaching, discipline and feedback. These all occur in a formal system as well and should be encouraged to create a healthy culture of open communication. A good example of a time when an informal approach is needed is where a supervisor has identified minor performance gaps and wishes to address the issue promptly without going through formal channels (ie the underperformance does not warrant a formal disciplinary procedure). This can also be helpful if a performance gap has been identified and waiting to discuss the issue until a formal process is undertaken could be to the detriment of the individual and their team.
For more information on discipline, please refer to our Managing Underperformance and Discipline section.

WHICH APPROACH?

The approach taken will depend on the organisation’s circumstances. For example, if there are few opportunities for promotion or career development within the organisation, a formal system may be unnecessary. On the other hand, a large organisation with several branches and several people making people management decisions will need a formal system to help with planning, consistency and employee development. Regardless of whether a formal or informal appraisal process is used (or both), individual performance needs to be appraised.

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