The importance of appraisals

The importance of appraisals

Appraisals offer managers and staff a chance to reflect on their successes and areas for improvement. Find out how to make the most of them.
Farm worker finishing his appraisal with manager in the field.
Farm worker finishing his appraisal with manager in the field.

This TIAH Guide explains what appraisals are and their benefits to employers and employees in farming and growing. It gives tips and guidance about preparing for an appraisal and highlights how it should be a positive experience for all concerned.

Appraisals are meetings, often held once or twice a year, between you and your line manager that offer a valuable opportunity to assess your past performance, evaluate your strengths, and identify areas for improvement. 

Don't underestimate the importance of appraisals, whether you're a farm worker, farm manager, or a land manager at a country estate. Every staff member deserves regular feedback and support to progress in their career. By actively participating in your appraisal process, you demonstrate a commitment to your personal growth and development. So, make the most of your appraisal opportunities, engage in constructive conversations with your line manager, and take charge of your professional development to help you achieve your career goals.

Benefits for employers

Appraisals allow an employer to measure performance so they can reward staff and address any issues, including offering potential training and support. They also help companies spot rising stars and map out their career paths. Showing an interest in staff and giving them a voice at appraisals can often result in a happier workplace and better staff retention.

Farming and growing are highly competitive and fast-changing sectors, so businesses need their staff to perform at a high level.

AHDB states: “A common factor seen in top performing farms in the world is the consistent management of people and their performance. Many farms find they can increase staff motivation and performance via staff appraisals.”

Benefits for employees

Benefits for employees include receiving valuable feedback about their performance, recognition of their efforts, and the opportunity to put forward ideas about their career development, including training and support needs. They're an opportunity to remind employers of their strengths and achievements.

A two-way conversation

Appraisals should be a genuine two-way conversation aimed at helping employers and staff achieve their best performance and meet their goals. In the best farming and growing companies, where managers and staff are in regular contact, appraisals should rarely throw up surprises.

Preparation for managers

Managers should prepare thoroughly for appraisals by obtaining data about an employee’s performance, reading documents from previous appraisals, and thinking of potential SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-related) goals to set. Often, a self-appraisal form is given to staff to complete beforehand. Appraisals should be held in a quiet and private place.

Preparation for employees

Employees should gather evidence about their achievements and recognition. They should fill in the self-appraisal form, be ready with solutions to areas where their performance might not have matched expectations, and be ready to share their goals.

The appraisal meeting

Appraisals should allow room for both employer and employee feedback. Managers should ask open-ended questions and use active listening skills to ensure effective discussion. It's a time to reflect on the past but mainly to look to the future.

Employees should listen carefully and be ready to challenge any perceived misconceptions. They should highlight their achievements, using the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) to back them up with solid examples.

Challenges and successes should be discussed and measured against previous goals. Managers should give recognition for tasks done well. Talk about ideas for development and training and agree on the actions to take. It's a good idea for both manager and employee to sign a form summarising the appraisal and for each to keep a copy.

Looking for more help on applying for jobs?

Our Employment Toolkit contains a host of resources to help you with each step of applying for a new job in farming and growing.

From researching roles to preparing for an on-farm interview, we've broken the process of applying for a job down into three key steps and collected everything you need to know in one place.
Staff look over their data-driven objectives. Sykes

A positive outcome

By the end of an appraisal, the manager and employee should feel there's been a constructive and positive conversation where issues have been addressed, and the employee feels motivated about the future.

Eight great things about appraisals:

  1. They allow employers to measure performance so they can reward staff and address any issues
  2. They can often lead to more training and support for employees
  3. Companies can spot rising stars and map out their career paths
  4. Appraisals can boost staff motivation and performance 
  5. Giving staff a voice at appraisals and praising them can result in a happier workplace and better staff retention
  6. Employees gain valuable feedback about their performance and recognition of their efforts
  7. Employees can put forward ideas about their career development, including training and support needs
  8. Employees can remind employers of their strengths and achievements