Conducting Performance Appraisals in Healthcare


Published: 17 March 2019

A performance appraisal is a regular assessment of how an individual is performing in their job role. It can have many benefits in practice, being used to:

  • Identify individual learning needs
  • Identify continuing development needs of employees
  • Demonstrate competency in practice.

Additionally, appraisals can also assist in the communication between employee and employer, aid in the provision of feedback and ensure that both parties are aware of each other’s expectations (Chang & Daly 2015).

Objectives of Performance Appraisals

Common objectives of completing a performance appraisal include:

  • To improve individual performance within the context of corporate goals
  • To improve and maintain the culture of the organisation
  • To improve and elaborate on the individual’s understanding of their work responsibility and also the performance standards that are expected of them
  • To give feedback on the individual's performance
  • To identify any individual training and development needs and implement plans to address these needs
  • To provide feedback to management
  • To reward those who are exceeding expectations
  • To provide a base for identifying and managing any unsatisfactory performances.

(Professionals Australia 2019)

Performance Appraisal

Conducting a Performance Appraisal

As a manager conducting performance appraisals, it's important to make sure the process is vibrant and collaborative. Here are a few ways that you can ensure that both parties get the most out of a performance appraisal:


Some individuals may be nervous and apprehensive about undertaking their performance appraisals. This could be for a variety of reasons, including their past experiences and anxiety over their performance.

They may also find the whole process to be not only uncomfortable, but also unfair, therefore, it is important that managers acknowledge the individual identities of their workers and how they contribute as an individual to the workplace (Chun et al. 2018).


A performance appraisal is a formal document that, upon completion, is retained by both the employee and employer for future reference.

It links together the individual’s job role and responsibilities and aligns it to the workplace goals and strategic goals of the organisation. Therefore, it will often contain the following:

  • Performance indicators, which are often discussed in terms of to what degree they have been achieved
  • What the expected performance standard is for each performance indicator
  • Short and long-term goals and aspirations
  • A statement of job responsibilities.

(Professionals Australia 2019)

It's important to remember that a performance appraisal is both an avenue to provide feedback, and a way for the employee to explore what professional and personal development options are available to them in the coming year.


It's important to ensure the employee has adequate time to prepare for the appraisal. Giving them enough time to plan what they would like to discuss and gather together any relevant information to strengthen their evidence of their performance is key (North 2013).

The manager also needs to be adequately prepared. During a performance appraisal, there can be a risk that too much information is given to the employee with too little time to comprehend.  The manager must approach the meeting with a clear plan and understanding of how to ensure the employee will process this information effectively.

Evaluation and Feedback

The employee must be evaluated against their past performance, rather then the performance of others in the workplace. This helps improve both the productivity and also the morale of the individual (Chun et al 2018).

When giving feedback as part of an appraisal, it's important that we ask the employee for feedback as well. Not only feedback on their performance and the organisation, but also feedback on what we have said during the appraisal.

Addressing Underperformance

Any underperformance of an individual or any problems that arise with staff should be addressed when they occur, and not wait until a formal feedback process like a performance appraisal. Therefore, when conducting a performance appraisal with a staff member, it should come as no shock to them if they are rated as underperforming.

If an employee needs further development in some areas, it's important that specific objectives are made that are agreed upon by both the manager and the staff member. These should be created as per the SMART framework:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Occurs within a set time frame.

Disputing a Performance Appraisal

If during or following a performance appraisal, the individual disputes the outcome of any information, it is important to follow local policy and procedures. This may mean involving human resources personnel with the individual’s performance appraisal (Professionals Australia 2019).

The rationale and intended outcomes for completing regular performance appraisals are to improve the performance of the individual and the workplace culture as a whole, increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace by improving the performance of the individual, and encourage feedback and communication between the employee and employer, hence improving workplace culture. This is why it's important to not only perform regular performance appraisals with staff but also ensure they are done effectively and with maximum benefit to both the employee and the organisation (Professionals Australia 2019).



educator profile image
Sally Moyle View profile
Sally Moyle is a rehabilitation nurse educator with Epworth HealthCare. She has completed her masters of nursing (clinical nursing and teaching) and has experience in many nursing sectors including rehabilitation, orthopaedic, neurosurgery, emergency, aged care and general surgery. Sally is passionate about education in nursing in order to produce the best nurses possible.