How to Run Successful Appraisals with Difficult Employees

How can we conduct appraisals when the employee is neither happy nor willing to be there?

Words like ‘appraisal’ can make some people want to run a mile! This may be due to pre-conceived ideas about the appraisal process, or unpleasant past experiences – perhaps a previous manager did not do a good job.

We can’t undo what has gone before, but we can acknowledge it and do whatever we can to change their perception of appraisals going forward.

Before the appraisal

What can we do to mitigate the level of challenge before the appraisal discussion begins? Firstly, let the employee know when and where the meeting is taking place and ask them to prepare for it. They need to evaluate their own performance, and bring along evidence of their work achievements to support their evaluation. Remind them why appraisals happen – to help everyone improve and be the best they can be. They’re not being victimised, everyone has an appraisal!

Setting the scene can help the staff member to understand the process, hopefully removing a lot of anxiety about it. It’s a proactive way of making the appraisal itself much more user friendly for both parties.

During the appraisal

What do you do if the employee disagrees with what you are saying? If you’ve prepared properly, then you will have specific examples of their behaviours and actions to support your feedback. If they persist, ask them to justify their comments. Perhaps you’ve missed something? Asking questions will help you to understand.

Also, if they have prepared, they should be able to support what they’re saying with their own examples. Keep challenging them politely to support what they are saying. If they cannot, then they should accept your views.

Alternatively, what do you do if the employee shuts up and remains silent? Remind them that it’s their appraisal, it’s confidential, and they need to contribute. Point out that your feedback about their performance will be recorded on their personnel file, so if they don’t agree with you they need to say so, otherwise you’ll have to assume that your feedback is accurate and they agree with it. They’re doing themselves no favours by staying silent! Later, when they finally say they didn’t agree with the feedback, it will be too late.

What do you do if the employee becomes emotional and starts crying? Offer them a tissue and take a short break. Leave the room, give them time to compose themselves, then rejoin them and check they’re ok to resume the appraisal. Remind them that the appraisal is going to happen, either sooner or later.

What if they become angry, or get up and walk out? Again, it’s time to call a short break as things have become heated. Assess your own contribution here – have you inadvertently caused the outburst? If so, apologise. Perhaps you didn’t explain yourself very well? If they do walk out, follow them at a safe distance, checking they’re not smashing up the office or doing anything else silly. Later, after some cooling off time, call them or approach them and explain that the appraisal still needs to happen – when is a good time?


It seems that not everyone likes appraisals! There’s a lot you can do before the appraisal meeting to help the employee feel more positive about it. If things go awry during the meeting, remember to remain polite, respectful and assertive.

Behaviour breeds behaviour – let yours breed theirs, not the other way around!


Tips to Build Self-Leadership in Challenging Times

Self-leadership is never as important as now. There are so many avenues in life where we can find ourselves lost. Some roads place us in marvellous spectacles. Other roads take us perilously close to the edge of our greatest dread, while others encourage, by their very nature, an opportunity to playfully explore and challenge ourselves.

Whatever road we happen to be on, how we view the scenery can so often be through the perspective of past experiences. Where some might see a playground of exciting possibilities, others see danger.

How we view the world around us can affect the way we interact, our ability to absorb new information, and ultimately impact the way we see ourselves.

Woman Stands on Mountain over Field Under Cloudy Sky at Sunrise

Stop judging yourself by what happens to you in life

A wise man once said that it is our failures that define our success. It’s important to reflect and realise that sometimes failures are not what they seem. They may have been nothing more than a forced change of direction. An interruption to a narrow view. Sometimes life is just random and that these events happen not to conspire against us, but to offer an opportunity to define who we are and what we believe in. To show us something new about ourselves.

As humans we don’t like random, cognitively it’s much more pleasing to think logically and to join the dots. This happened because of this, therefore… It is the mistake of the ages and why gamblers are so addicted. My luck is due to change, I can’t keep losing? Understanding this simple philosophy – that life is beyond our control – is to choose by strength. Enjoying the present is where our focus should be, and is a key to self-leadership and inner confidence.

Forgive yourself and others for past mistakes

There is no greater gift you can give yourself than forgiveness. As part of life’s experience, you must live your mistakes and allow others to live theirs. Some mistakes leave you feeling overwhelmed ‘how could I have been so stupid?’ It’s a dangerous outlook and breeds bad habits.

Harbouring anger for what others have done is also a serious diversion from the present. When we run ourselves or others down, it affects the way we see things. I am a victim, or I am stupid, are labels that mean nothing. Yet they give us infinite excuses like ‘why bother?’ or ‘I am not worth this’ when an opportunity comes along.


Self-defeating attitudes linger like bad breath and affect the way we experience new flavours. Instead consider, I move forward in life with grace and ease, and with kindness to myself and all that I touch.

There are no losers, only an ill-fitting label that becomes a barrier to the next great view. In some areas you will define yourself with success and others will be an intersection to a better road.

The ultimate thrill in life is it is your choice of which direction to take. How can you build your self-leadership going forwards?