How effective is a 1:1 employee appraisal?

Photo showing a man and a woman within an office setting, sitting on chairs, both having laptops on the table, and discussing with one another.

An employee appraisal is a crucial tool used by HR managers to evaluate and promote employee performance. However, these conversations are not always productive. Here are some tips for HR managers to make a 1:1 employee appraisal more effective and successful.

What is a one-on-one employee appraisal?

An employee appraisal is a performance review that is conducted by an employer to assess an employee's job performance, skills, accomplishments, and areas for improvement. The appraisal process usually involves setting specific goals and objectives for the employee to achieve, and then evaluating the employee's progress towards those goals. The main purpose of an employee appraisal is to provide feedback to the employee, so they can improve their job performance, as well as to identify coaching, training, and development needs. This process can also be used to determine promotions, bonuses, and salary increases.

Why is a 1:1 employee appraisal so crucial for companies?

A 1:1 employee appraisal is one of the most effective leadership methods for staff development. Through such interactions, you can find whether your employees are satisfied with their work or whether there are problems they need to address. Moreover, such a conversation ensures that the employees have the necessary skills to perform their jobs successfully.

The content of these conversations varies and ranges from communication about business to the employees' personal goals. Such conversations are an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn about the other person's thoughts and motivations. However, a 1:1 employee appraisal is not only crucial for the exchange between supervisors and employees. It can also be an occasion for both sides to reflect on the goals for the coming period and to plan how to achieve them.

Additionally, such conversations are a precious way for managers to gain the trust of their employees. Through regular communication, employees feel valued and fulfilled. They know that their work input is appreciated. They can identify problems early on and develop relevant solutions promptly. Thus, organizations can avoid long-term conflicts and increase productivity and satisfaction. In addition, the conversations provide an opportunity to openly discuss new ideas, development opportunities, or suggestions for improvement. Therefore, it is worthwhile in many respects to regularly integrate a 1:1 employee appraisal with employees into the daily work routine. Whether it's about initiating new ideas or addressing problems early on, 1:1 conversations are an indispensable part of any company's HR work.

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How can you conduct an effective 1:1 employee appraisal?

There are many different ways to conduct a 1:1 employee appraisal. However, when used correctly, various methods can be particularly effective. Some people start their 1:1 conversations with a specific routine. For example, they ask their counterpart about the progress made since their last conversation. 

Others finish their conversations by setting a topic for the next one. It may be the plan for the next week or a specific topic to address. 

Some prefer an open method in 1:1 conversations. Individuals following this technique let their counterparts speak freely and listen attentively to their input. An 'open method' is very effective when considering the feedback gained and evaluating the importance or relevance of such feedback. However, such an approach tends to be less effective with some employees - especially if they want a clear framework and close guidance.

Effectively conducting the 1:1 employee-appraisal

To conduct a 1:1 employee appraisal successfully, keep the following things in mind. First, the conversations must take place regularly. It ensures that both the manager and the employee build a constructive relationship and that there is an opportunity for open communication. Employees must express their opinions freely and ask questions without fear of consequences. Only in such an environment are employees encouraged to do their best and make progress. 

Regular conversations allow team leaders to track employees' progress and provide feedback. A constructive conversational approach is particularly suitable for this. Instead of just telling employees what didn't work, it's better to offer solutions and suggestions. It's the best way to avoid future problems. When criticism ensues, it should be fair and with the intent of improving the employee. It is also helpful to talk about the team and individual successes and to evoke positive memories. 

Moreover, both sides should be well prepared. The manager should define goals and figure out what is going on in the employees' lives - whether they have personal, family, or professional problems. The employees, in turn, should be ready to ask questions and talk about their ideas and visions for the future of the team and the company. 

In conclusion, a 1:1 employee appraisal can be very effective through proper planning and preparation. It helps the manager track the team's progress and support the development of employees. In addition, regular 1:1 meetings create a positive working atmosphere in the department and the whole company.

How can managers improve their communication skills for a 1:1 employee appraisal?

A 1:1 employee appraisal offers managers an excellent opportunity to improve their communication skills and make the dialog with their team members more efficient. By using structured agendas, open-ended questions, and constructive discussion, leaders help their employees find more effective approaches to resolving issues and identifying conflicts early.

Following a structured agenda

One way managers can improve their communication skills during a 1:1 employee appraisal is to follow a structured agenda. This agenda should include a set of defined topics they need to address. For example, managers can prepare the current status of a project and possible ways to improve the situation. Managers can also include questions about work behavior, performance, and development opportunities in the agenda. Each item must get explained and discussed in detail. Also, managers must ask open questions and listen attentively in a 1:1 employee appraisal.

Accounting for non-verbal cues

Often, problems are not immediately apparent from the spoken word. Therefore, it is best to remain vigilant and perceive non-verbal signals. It makes it easier to recognize and resolve conflicts or other disagreements.

The used type of communication also plays a significant role in a 1:1 employee appraisal. Managers should speak appropriately with their employees - that is, respectfully and politely - and clearly, to avoid misunderstandings.

Discussing with a positive attitude

Another element of communication is the positive choice of words - already mentioned above: Criticism does not always have to be gloomy. Positive remarks can help to encourage employees and give them the best possible support.

Relying on consistent feedback

Ultimately, it is vital for managers to regularly reflect on and safeguard the results of 1:1 conversations - that is, to prepare a report on the course of the conversation or to hold feedback briefings. Such a process helps ensure that all topics are effectively addressed and decide on potential, actionable next steps.

What about the success of 1:1 employee development programs in companies?

1:1 employee development programs are an effective way to increase employee performance and engagement. However, to fully assess the success of these programs, companies need to examine the impact on the intended goals and relevant metrics. 

Empirical research shows that companies involved in 1:1 employee development programs experienced several positive changes. Such changes include better communication and collaboration between managers and employees, higher productivity and motivation, and a stronger bond between employers and employees. 

In addition, research has shown that 1:1 employee development programs in companies can lead to an increase in sales, an improvement in customer service, and a reduction in turnover, among other things. However, such positive results become achievable only if the programs are applied regularly. Continuity is critical to success. 

1:1 employee development programs, when practiced regularly, are efficient instruments for companies to influence the productivity and commitment of their employees for the better. However, companies must implement procedures to make the success of the programs measurable and to be able to make adjustments depending on the results. That is the only way to ensure that 1:1 employee appraisals have a lasting impact on employee performance


The 1:1 employee appraisal is a crucial part of human resources management. Managers should prepare conversations through a positive mindset and expect the same attitude from the employees. Regularly reflecting on the results can lead to significant increases in turnover.

We hope that this article benefited you in knowing more about the power of a well-managed 1:1 employee appraisal. If you want more information on the topic, we recommend reading our other blog posts to learn more about the benefits of such conversations. Furthermore, we help leaders have more effective employee appraisals by offering specific Coaching topics Feel free to schedule an info call, to learn how we can support you in developing your leaders.

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FAQ: Effectiveness of employee appraisal 

What are some examples of employee performance appraisals in human resource management (HRM)?

Examples of employee performance appraisals in HRM include 360-degree feedback, employee performance ranking, checkmark method, and graphic rating scale. 

What is the best employee appraisal technique?

According to a popular article by N. M. Mathur , managers consider 360-degree appraisal as the best employee appraisal technique due to its all-encompassing nature and provision of a detailed view of an employee.

What is the golden rule of employee performance appraisals?

It may sound like a cliché, but the golden rule is as follows: Do to others what you want them to do to you.