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Preparation: the physical environment

In terms of preparing the environment for an effective appraisal discussion there are two dimensions to consider, the physical and the interpersonal. We certainly need to consider carefully the physical environment to ensure it is conducive to a productive one-to-one, professional, work-based discussion. Getting the venue right for the appraisal will considerably increase your chances of success. Getting it wrong will hamper all of your other efforts. The following words and phrases capture the key goals for the ideal physical environment:

  • private – remember, being seen threatens privacy as much as being heard, so a discussion in an office with a glass divider may not be ideal
  • quiet – background noise will inhibit free-flowing discussion
  • relaxed – but not too relaxed…
  • neutral territory – being in ‘your office’ may reinforce for some people issues of status that can make them less likely to feel at ease to contribute. It is worth thinking about  the most suitable location to hold the appraisal
  • free from distractions – divert your calls. Stopping to take, or worse still make, a telephone call during an appraisal discussion sends all of the wrong signals. Remember, this is a piece of time devoted to the appraisee and should be valued as such
  • professional and comfortable – can you come up with a better arrangement than sitting either side of a desk? This is an arrangement that can psychologically suggest opposition.

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