Human Resources

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1. What are the key features of the new performance appraisal scheme?

  • Appraisal takes place through a series of discussions over the year with an annual summary meeting.
  • These discussions are to benefit both Queen Mary and the individual, focusing on people’s objectives, their continuous development, the resources and support they need to succeed and their career ambitions and steps to advancing these.  
  • One question the scheme design working party addressed was how much of an appraisal discussion should be available to be shared with others. They decided that senior managers should be able to view what was agreed, so they can understand how people’s contributions will be impacting overall School or Institute plans. At the same time, appraisal was also an occasion when some personal issues may be discussed and the security of these needed to be guaranteed. The proposal therefore reflects this with a form in two parts
  • The line manager is the normal appraiser. Where they have responsibility for more than eight staff, they should delegate this role and authority. However, they retain an overarching responsibility to make sure strategic priorities are clear, to plan the response to the various support and resource requests from appraisees, and to review the outcomes for fairness.
  • For a full understanding of the scheme, please see: /hr/procedures/appraisal/

2. What are the key changes from the old scheme?

  • The new scheme emphasises that there is a dialogue going on through the year around four themes: focusing your work for the coming year through shaping clear objectives; learning from the past to develop your future contribution; resources and support to help you succeed; your career ambitions and next development steps). This ongoing conversation is summarised once a year at what is traditionally called the appraisal meeting.
  • The emphasis is on having a positive conversation, serving the interests of both individual and QMUL, rather than on form-filling. The agreements reached in the conversation need recording, but that is the extent of the form-filling.
  • The old scheme was often confidential. The new scheme’s record is in two parts: part one is available for viewing up the line management structure; part two is confidential between the appraisee and appraiser.  

3. Will this apply to everyone?

  • All employees, including staff working on fixed term contracts, or temporary contracts employed for a year or more will use a single appraisal framework. There are two exceptions:
  • Staff on probation will complete probation in the current way, and move onto the appraisal system once probation is complete.
  • Staff employed by the NHS, those on joint contracts, or those requiring professional revalidation may follow an alternative process which will have been reviewed to ensure it achieves equivalent aims to the QM scheme.  

4. How do I set realistic objectives?

  • There are two keys to agreeing good objectives:
  • Ambition.  You and your appraiser should agree objectives at the right level of ambitiousness. Establishing objectives too high (too ambitious) or too low (not ambitious enough) is de-motivating to appraisees.  
  • Clarity.  Make sure you both understand what is being agreed.  Ask yourselves: when this objective is delivered, what will we actually see/hear?

See the Guidelines on the Appraisal web page for examples of objectives.

5. How do I set objectives when I have to deal with a lot of reactive or unplanned work?

  • The key is regular conversations. By having regular conversations throughout the year, instead of just annually, you should be able to track whether the objectives are still relevant or achievable. As the picture changes in the year, objectives may need to be adjusted.

6. How can I make the most of unexpected opportunities if I have to stick to pre-agreed objectives?

  • It’s not always an easy balance between providing some clear, planned focus – which objectives provide – and being flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances.  If opportunities come up, then the appraiser and appraisee should agree how they should be addressed, and then what reprioritisation there needs to be to previously agreed objectives.  

7. How do I set a 12 month objective when some of the work will take longer than that to reach a conclusion?

  • If your final objective has a longer timescale than 12 months, you should be able to establish shorter, 12 month, milestones for when particular phases of the work are due to be completed.

8. How can I agree an objective when I don’t know what the outcomes of my research will be?

  • Applications for grants are completed on the basis of anticipated outcomes, and objectives can be framed in a similar way. You may need to have further conversations to update the objectives throughout the year, so this scheme is flexible enough to adjust to your findings. The intention is to help focus the work rather than to pre-determine outcomes.  

9. Much of our work is collaborative – how do we take part in appraisal when it focuses on the individual?

  • Collaborative working is central to much of QMUL’s success and discussions with individuals should emphasise this.  Individuals can share objectives with other members of the team.  Team meetings are a forum to address these collaborative elements.  Nevertheless the individual remains an individual and the appraisal is the opportunity to give them direct and focused attention.

10. How confidential are the forms?

  • Part One of the form will be available up the line management chain, for example to your VP or Director. They will not be openly accessible or published in a shared place. Examples of how they may be used include:
    • To create and co-ordinate departmental development plans.
    • To review overall performance in the department and progress to achieving strategic goals; and
    • To ensure adequate and appropriate resources are available.

Part Two is reserved to the appraisee and their appraiser/line manager.

11. Are these conversations different from the one-to-ones I already have with my manager?

  • Not necessarily. The conversation around the four themes (objectives, learning from past contribution, resources and support, and career) should be ongoing. These conversations should be integrated into existing conversations.

12. I’ve got a member of staff who is going to retire in the next four or five months. Do I have to do their appraisal?

  • You may want to frame the question differently: what conversation would be most helpful to have with a member of staff retiring in the next few months?  Then have that conversation.

13. Appraisals take up too much time. How can I manage?

  • Some staff have many reports and it is not realistic to expect them to appraise all of them. They may delegate some of the appraisals.  All staff are required to undertake appraisal unless they are excepted as detailed in the policy.

14. I have a member of staff with whom it may be difficult to have a positive conversation.

  • The aim is a positive conversation.  It helps raise contribution.  It doesn’t avoid difficult issues or disappointing results – that would only be a dishonest conversation.  However, where outcomes disappoint, this is looked at in the positive context of what can be learned and how can this experience be used for the future.
    • A rhythm of questioning, listening and comment is likely to encourage a positive conversation.  The art is in getting it about right: too fast can become a machine gun-like interrogation, whilst too slow robs the talk of energy.
    • Good listening.  Listen more than speak.
    • Constructive questioning. Be clear on the purpose of the questions.  Questions can be to:
    o Get the facts, e.g. what happened?
    o Evaluate e.g. how good was the result?
    o Move forward e.g. what are our next steps?
    • Constructive commenting.  Be clear, as the appraiser, on the purpose of your comments: they are to enable development and progress in the future and to express your confidence in the appraisee’s ability to achieve the objectives.  Replacing a complaint about something done in the past (“you didn’t do…”) with a request directed to the future (“this year, I want you to…”) turns a possible resentment into a constructive conversation about the future.

15. What if promotion opportunities are scarce in my area? How can we plan career and development?

  • The career and personal development part of the conversation often gets less attention than looking at past and future objectives, but is a key part of the whole appraisal.
    The conversation focuses on both the present (looking at the development the appraisee needs to become more effective in their current role) and the future (looking to the development that will enable them to fulfil their career ambitions).
    • Present-focused career and personal development conversations.  The attention is on development within the current role and the conversation is structured around:
    o Training that is mandatory to the role.  Are both appraiser and appraisee clear what this is and whether it has been done?
    o Areas of knowledge or skill development that would improve the appraisee’s effectiveness in their current role. Roles are rarely static, they evolve over time and we need to keep challenging ourselves on becoming more effective.
    • Future-focused career and personal development conversations.  There are three possible scenarios here:
    o The appraisee is clear about their ambition for the future – s/he knows what s/he wants to do.  The role of the appraiser is to help the appraisee by testing that the ambition and timescale are realistic and then discussing: what is the gap (of knowledge / of skill / of attitude) from where they are now to where they need to be?  What are the opportunities and steps for bridging the gap?
    o The appraisee is not looking in the future for a role different from the one they have now. This may be a perfectly legitimate position for the appraisee: as a result of an assessment of their circumstances or skill or ambition levels, s/he may decide that their current role is sufficient for them at the present time.  An appraisee should not be considered in any way unfavourably as a result of this type of decision. Help them explore what continuing development they may need to keep their current knowledge and skills up-to-date and stay motivated in their present role.
    o The appraisee has got ambitions for the future but there needs to be different opportunities in order to achieve them. Identify what opportunities there are to develop themselves in their current role through, for example, engaging with different people or on different projects.  Identify what opportunities may be possible through “sideways” moves – taking on roles that are adjacent to their current role but demand different knowledge or skills.  Career progress is increasingly a matter of a “zigzag” path, combining upwards with sideways moves.

16. We have insufficient training budget.

  • Significant opportunity for learning is lost if thinking about development is confined to thinking about training courses.   In terms of learning, training is only one of a range of options, and alternatives can be grouped roughly into two other categories:
    • Coaching-type learning.   This includes formal coaching and mentoring through to less formal conversations with a more experienced colleague in a particular area of work.  It also incorporates meetings in small groups that focus on solving problems or developing new opportunities, often rich occasions for learning.
    • Job experience-type learning.  This includes a variety of types of exposure to situations whilst doing a job.  Examples include participation in projects; secondments and shadowing to experience alternative work or ways of working; opportunities within the current role to work with different people or processes or technologies.
    When training courses form a part of the development, it is important to ensure the job experience-based learning opportunities are provided.  Training loses effectiveness rapidly when there is a lack of skills practice opportunity.

17. Who can I contact for more information?

  • If you have any questions or concerns about appraisal, please contact your HR Partner. If you are not sure who that is find out here.

18. How do I log into the e-appraisal web site?

  • You login to the e-Appraisal system using your QMUL username and password.

19. How will the appraiser see the appraisal record of an appraisee?

  • Appraisers will have access to the Appraisal forms for all of their Appraisee’s through the e-Appraisal system. Appraiser / Appraisee roles will be based on the Line Management structure within MyHR.
  • Upon initial completion of the form the Appraisee should click on the Share and Close link within the Share box at the top of the page. This will create a notification to the Appraiser and enable them to view all form content. The Appraiser will then be able to make any amendments and add their comments to the form. When they are happy with the content they will share the form with the Appraisee. This will create a notification email informing them of this action.
  • The amend and Share process should continue until both the Appraisee and Appraiser are happy with the final form content.

20. Will each step in the process send a notification via e-mail?

  • Alerts within the e-Appraisal system are divided into ‘Actions’ and ‘Notifications’. ‘Actions’ require the user to perform a task, Notifications are for information only. Both will be included on alert emails. Please see the chart below which details the associated alert for each process step:

21. How do I Save the Appraisal form?

  • To save and exit the form at any time click the Save and Close icon in the bottom right - hand corner of the Appraisal form. This will Save the form and return to your Me page.

22. Will the comments by an Appraisee in their form show up for the Appraiser if they view the form before it has been shared?

  • Yes. Several sections of the appraisal form are visible and editable by your manager / appraiser at all times. A message has been included on these sections for guidance. It is in a blue box and reads "The text areas in this section are visible and editable by both the Appraisee and the Appraiser at all times." There is one section however, the Appraisee Overall Comments section, that is only editable by the Appraisee. It cannot be viewed by the Appraiser until the form has been shared.

23. Can I print the e-appraisal form?

  • Yes. A PDF copy of your Appraisal form can be printed by clicking on the green Save as print-friendly PDF icon within the Appraisal form.

24. As an appraiser, I can’t see my direct reports

  • Direct Reports can be viewed within the My Team Tab. The reporting lines in the e-Appraisal system are a direct copy of the reporting lines in MyHR. If you cannot see a direct report please log a call via the IT helpdesk (+44 (0)20 7882 8888) or self-service or Email

25. What is the maximum number of characters allowed in the e-Appraisal form?

  • There are no character limits within any section of the e-Appraisal forms.

26. There is an error in my personal / employment details within the e-Appraisal system. What do I do?

  • Click on the Support link in the top right hand corner. This will generate an email pre-populated with your username and email address. Explain the issue in the body of the email and click send. The email will be sent to the HR Systems Team for investigation and action.
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