What is appraisal?

A performance appraisal is a review of an employees work performance based on a joint discussion between the employee and their head nurse or practice manager. These are normally carried out on an annual basis.

Why appraise?

Appraisals can be used for many different purposes. There are three main reasons for appraisal:

•  to motivate staff and improve performance by setting objectives for the future

•  to assess performance and award accordingly

•  to identify training needs and develop the performance in the future.

These reasons may at times be in conflict. A person may be unwilling to admit to training needs if they feel that this will reflect on their assessment. An appraiser (head nurse or practice manager) might find it difficult to be a judge of performance and then be a helper/developer.

One way of coping with this is to divide the appraisal into two phases:

1.   one to assess and reward

2.   the other to develop.

This should help the person to identify her or his own development needs and look for ways to improve in the future, without the practice worrying about the financial implications.

The appraisal process is to review performance. It should not be a disciplinary meeting – this is a separate process.

Benefits of appraisal

The individual receives:

   feedback, which can motivate

   clarity of targets to be met

   recognition of development needs.

The head nurse or practice manager gains:

  clearer analysis of the employees’ strengths

  the forging of stronger relationships

   better departmental performance.

The practice benefits from:

  everyone working towards achieving the same aims

  practice goals being cascaded down and distilled into individual objectives.

If your employer is about to initiate an appraisal system, don’t panic! Think about what you want to get out of the meeting. A little bit of thought beforehand can make all the difference between sitting there tongue-tied, or actually having a useful conversation . with the head nurse or practice manager about your strengths and weaknesses, and how to work on them!

Some questions you might like to think about

There is much to be gained from good preparation prior to an appraisal. The following is a series of points to consider in a logical order:

   Who will be appraising me?

   Where will we carry out the appraisal interview?

   What I most want to achieve in this appraisal is to:




   In order to achieve the above, what do I need to prepare in advance of the meeting?

   The major issues we need to discuss during the appraisal are:

   I think my appraiser’s greatest concerns are likely to be:

   What are my training and development needs? How might these be addressed?

   What are my career aspirations? 

For further support with this or any other HR issue BVNA members can call the BVNA IRS Helpline on 01822 870270


Nicky Ackerley BA(Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA's Industrial Relations Service since it began in 2002.

• VOL 27 • June 2012 • Veterinary Nursing Journal