Monday, August 10, 2009

How to write feedback for someone's appraisal

Appraisals can be a thorny one. On the one hand, it’s a great opportunity to vent your spleen – not just about your colleague's failings, but about your dissatisfaction with the world in general. On the other hand, these things do so often have a habit of turning round and biting you on the ass.

After a couple of incidents involving what you could call bad karma, I came up with this simple equation to help me judge the correct tone for any appraisal. I’ve reproduced it here for your benefit.

Chance they’ll be asked to give feedback for YOUR appraisal __%
Chance they’ll one day be your boss __%
Random luck rating (how often do these things blow up in your face?) /10

Then simply multiply the three numbers to find out how to approach it.

Lower than 10. Really go to town. Keep on about the smallest thing they've done wrong until it takes on account-losing proportions. It doesn't even have to be a mistake that they've made, it could just be someone who sits near them. Don’t be afraid to get personal too. Do they have an especially pointy chin, for example? Or an annoying habit of breathing funny? Stick it all in there.

10-500. Keep it to strictly vague platitudes e.g. 'Enjoyable to work with', 'competent', 'displays a singular willingness to do their job'. You may find it helps to have in mind the person conducting the appraisal. If you've got it right, when they feed back they should have absolutely NOTHING to go on.

500+. I don’t like to compliment others. It just doesn’t sit well. Brown-nosing, however, when it has a clear self-serving goal, is just plain common sense. So when an opportunity to flatter someone in power comes along, don’t hold back. Think big with your accolades: ‘genius’, ‘visionary’, ‘best in the business’ etc.

So there you have it. Some appraisals are an opportunity for advancement, others for putting someone else down. And most are an annoying admin task to be given the minimum of thought.

My method may seem a little crude but then, isn’t the whole process?


  1. Blimey. This must have struck a nerve.

    Nearly 24 hours have elapsed, and nobody else has commented. I wonder what that could mean.

    "... Incoming!!!"

  2. Yeah I must say it’s pretty quiet today. And my colleagues do seem to be giving me a wider berth than usual.
    I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have posted this so soon before my own review.

  3. ..or you could just be nice to people and do good work.

    ps - have a wash you smell of oxfam.

  4. i like to use simple but complex word structures like: say it don't spray it. or that's the pot calling the kettle black.
    throws them off but leaves them wanting more....