Performance Development Review (Appraisal)

Policy Regulation Tools / Template Knowledge References


Performance Development Review (appraisal)

Policy Reference


This section presents a detailed and comprehensive performance development review model (appraisal) for childcare centres.

The model assumes that the performance development review process is facilitated in all cases by the Centre Manager for staff in their employ. Of course, that may not be the case; for example the Supervising Teacher may review other more junior teaching staff; and (in the case of a community centre), the Board or Committee Chair may review the Centre Manager.

The purpose of this section is to provide a comprehensive guide with tools and templates for the recruitment of staff at your early childhood education centre.

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Regulation Reference

The Ministry of Education’s Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008 section on Governance, management and administration requires that services demonstrate they have a number of professional practices in place. Included in these is GMA7 – suitable human resource management practices are implemented. This section specifically requires a system for regular appraisal (of staff).

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Performance development review versus appraisal

Why the change in language? In Human Resource Management terms, an appraisal is an evaluation of a staff member’s performance, usually over a year, by the manager. It reflects an autocratic style of management where the staff member is not expected to engage, and it went out of fashion over thirty years ago.

In contrast, performance development review is an approach that is based on being consultative; where the staff member actually leads the process while the manager guides the process. A joint and agreed plan for future development is the result.

The ECC recommends the following Performance Development Review model as an example of current best practice.

Regular feedback is essential

A regular performance development meeting or catch up is a useful tool for keeping your staff motivated. Staff always want to be told when they are doing a good job. Plan regular meetings (weekly, fortnightly, monthly) where you discuss with each employee the performance objectives set out in the job description and their performance development plan.

If, during this meeting, you discover the staff member is carrying out duties that are not in their job description – find out why. Their or another person’s job description may need revising. It is important that you keep up regular performance development meetings because this planned approach is a far more effective way of addressing issues than trying to sort out problems that have been allowed to develop over time.

Also – see the Manager as a Coach for insight into how to relate to and work with staff at different performance levels.

Annual Appraisal/Performance Development Review

Once a year, a more thorough Performance Development Review should occur. This should be led by the staff member, but facilitated/guided by the Manager.

It is critical that, during this process, the manager does not introduce concerns with the staff member’s performance that have not been previously raised in regular catch up meetings. This review should have “no surprises”.

The ECC has developed this comprehensive annual Performance Development Review model with review tools for centre managers, teaching staff and administrators, as examples for you to work with.

The Appraisal/Performance Development Review System


What is Appraisal/Performance Development Review?

A performance development review means:

  • Measuring performance against agreed objectives;
  • Setting objectives for future performance;
  • Setting objectives for self-improvement.

A good performance development review looks backwards and forwards. It reviews performance over the past period, and looks forward by planning for future personal development.

In a performance development review we do these things:

  1. Think clearly about the people for whom we are responsible and review, with them, their past performance.
  2. Plan, with them, their future development.
  3. Consider their relations with colleagues, and how they fit into the centre. This is intended to address the important issue of compatibility.
  4. Consider their future potential as employees.

Formal Versus Informal Appraisal/Performance Development Reviews

Of course, employers are in day-to-day discussion with their employees all the time.

Such informal discussion and feedback may not always be satisfactory because they are:

  • Not revealed: The team member does not know what is thought or why.
  • Not uniform: There are no common standards throughout the centre.
  • Arbitrary: Without defined standards, sound judgment may be unreliable.
  • Unrecorded: Only the specific manager knows about the discussion.

Use of a formal performance review system, uniform throughout the centre, will give consistency and achieve better results for everyone.

However, these formal reviews must be supported by on-going informal conversation – about success and their effects, about performance and improvement, and about problems and their solutions.

The objectives of the performance review are:

  • To provide a development programme for future growth for each member.
  • To stimulate interest and involvement in the job.
  • To improve communication between managers and teams.
  • To improve future job performance and competence (such as for an aspiring supervising or head teacher).
  • To recognise whether an employee is ready for promotion and to what position.
  • To identify needs for training, both internally and externally.
  • To determine what action is needed to improve weaker skills.
  • To allow discussion of what the team member sees as barriers to his or her performance.

Appraisal/Performance Review Process

Guidelines for Appraisal/Performance Development Reviews

1. Managers will, by discussion:

  1. Translate centre goals into individual job objectives/requirements. This is a good opportunity to ensure your performance review system links with your centre strategic plan.
  2. Communicate their expectations and gain agreement about performance.
  3. Provide feedback to employees.
  4. Coach employees on how to achieve job objectives/requirements.
  5. Diagnose team members’ strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Plan for improvement.

2. Employees will get the answers to:

  1. What am I expected to do?
  2. How well am I doing?
  3. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  4. How can I do a better job?
  5. How can I contribute more?
  6. What does my future hold?

An Outline of the Appraisal/Performance Development Review System

The performance review system consists of straightforward steps.

1. Job Description

Every team member involved in the performance development review system should have a current job description.

This should outline simply the tasks, accountabilities and key result areas, and provide a list of duties.

2. Performance Development Review Preparation Guides

Before the actual performance development review meeting, both you and your team member should review your copies of the job description and read An Employee’s Guide to the Performance Development Review System. This allows you both to identify and research all matters that either of you want discussed at the review.

3. Performance Development Review Meeting

This is the actual discussion that occurs between you and your team member.

4. Performance Development Review Action Plan

The result of this discussion should be the completion of an “agreement” of performance and job improvement objectives as outlines in the Performance Development Review Action Plan. This “agreement” is also a summary of the discussion, and then becomes the basis of the next performance review.

Guidelines for Good Job Descriptions

  1. Good job descriptions take time.
  2. They must be kept up to date.
  3. They are not “top secret”.
  4. All employees who are affected by any changes should be consulted prior to any change being made.
  5. Job descriptions should be available when people take up new positions and be sent out with the letter of offer for the position.

Preparation for the Performance Development Review Meeting

The performance development review meeting must be a two-way discussion of results achieved, and of ways to improve performance and job satisfaction. It is essential that you give careful thought to the interview beforehand. Taking the following steps will enable this to occur.

1. Job Description

All team members subject to performance review should be in possession of their current job description. This sets out their broad area of responsibility and then their specific accountabilities. Ensure the employee has an up-to-date version at least one week prior to the meeting.

2. Key Responsibilities

You should have discussed with your team member the key responsibilities – that is, the particular sections of the job description that contain the most important parts of their job, and that will be discussed at the review meeting. If the team member is not already aware of the key responsibilities before filling in the Performance Development Review Form, the purpose of the review should be discussed and the principal benefits highlighted.

3. Team Member’s Performance Review Preparation Guide

You should give each team member a copy of An Employee's Guide to the Performance Development Review System well before the performance review interview. The preparation guide is designed to help team members think critically about job performance, job satisfaction and aspirations. It also provides them with useful starting points for the performance interview.

At least two weeks’ notice should be given of the meeting. When you hand the guide to your team member, set a date and time by mutual agreement. Be sure that the time agreed to allows between one to two hours uninterrupted time to be set aside.

At this time, your team members should be given a copy of An Employee's Guide to the Performance Development Review System.

Before the meeting, ensure that all team members are comfortable and well prepared to deal objectively with the process.

The Appraisal/Performance Development Review Meeting

The term “meeting” is deliberately used to describe the review discussions between you and your team member. A meeting has been described as a “conversation with a purpose” and a review conversation must have a purpose or an objective. There are seven requirements for a successful review meeting.

It must:

  • Be prepared for by the Centre Manager
  • Have one or more objectives
  • Be conducted in a relaxed yet purposeful manner
  • Give team members as much opportunity and encouragement to talk as they require
  • Be an occasion for listening
  • Adopt the “problem solving” approach to all issues
  • Result in joint decisions being made and strategies to implement those decisions being agreed to.

Guidelines for meeting these requirements are as follows:

1. Preparation by the Centre Manager

You must devote time to preparing for it. Firstly, from existing records, you must become fully familiar with the team member’s background. You must review his or her existing strengths and weaknesses and any significant factors in his or her personal relationships and operations.

Secondly, you must know the results achieved during the period under review, and note down any significant points that should be discussed during the interview. You should review in detail the action plan from the previous performance development review and consider what has been achieved since that meeting. It is essential that you read this section before undertaking a Performance Development Review meeting with a staff member.

2. Have one or more objectives

As well as deciding which matters will be covered, you must ensure that the performance development review meeting has an objective or set of objectives.

The particular objectives established for the meeting will be different for each team member. Your broad objectives for any performance development review should be stated in one or more of the following patterns:

“With the team member, to examine the results achieved, to evaluate these and to agree on ways in which improvements may be made: improvements both within and outside the team member’s responsibilities.”


“With the team member to examine particular problems the manager sees in the previous and current performance and to identify any problems the team member finds in the job, then to agree on ways of overcoming these or addressing the problems.”


“To examine with the team member whether his or her abilities and training match the requirements of the present position. Then to identify and agree on ways in which these may be more fully used in the present job or in jobs of greater or differing responsibility.”


“With the team member to determine the kind of assistance that may be needed either to perform the present job more effectively or to assume greater future responsibility.”

(“Assistance” is likely to mean training, development programmes or managerial support).

3. Be conducted in a relaxed, yet purposeful manner

Take considerable care that the surroundings are suitable:

  • Do not talk across a desk. Sit so that you can talk across the corner
  • Use a small table instead if you can
  • Have all materials, files and reports available before the meeting
  • Take no calls – have them switched to another extension if possible
  • Be sure that heating, ventilation and light are adequate and comfortable
  • If interruptions are a problem, have the review away from the office.

If circumstances change, discuss them with your team member and agree on an alternative date and time. Try to avoid this though.

Although the atmosphere should be relaxed, the meeting should not become a cosy chat. It is a “conversation with a purpose”, and you must always keep this objective in mind.

There should be no surprises in these meetings. Performance reviews must be on-going, happening all the time, formalised once every 12 months.

You are largely responsible for your team members’ standards. You must ensure that, at all times, team members know what is expected in the course of their work.

You must be prepared to discuss all issues with your team member on a private, one-to-one basis. It is not wise for you to have someone else take up an issue with your team member:

  • He or she may not know enough about the person
  • You are missing an opportunity to develop that team member and establish a better working relationship with him or her
  • If you avoid conducting an honest, private discussion on what you expect from your team, you cannot expect respect, or provide effective leadership.

During the meeting you should:

  • Give recognition of successes and achievements and encouragement
  • Spell out clearly and positively the areas where improvement is required
  • Encourage the team member to discuss his or her job performance, how they feel they are performing and any relationship or other problems he or she may be experiencing
  • Resolve any grey areas so that mutual respect and motivation can be achieved
  • Be objective and factual – have data to support your comments
  • Do not react to comments by placing the blame on others – you should maintain confidentiality
  • Ensure that you encourage and tell the team member that he or she has done a good job where appropriate, and don't just focus on the areas needing improvement.

4. Give the team member plenty of opportunity and encouragement to talk

When you begin a performance development review, you should have decided already what you think about the results achieved, and should now want to hear what the team member feels about them. You should encourage the team member to give his or her view of his or her performance and results and be prepared to change your mind if necessary.

You should not enter the conversation as soon as there is a pause. Give the team member time to think. If necessary, bring the conversation back to issues that should be discussed further, by such leads as:

“You mentioned before that …”


“Would you like to tell me more about …?”

In trying to learn what your team member really feels about the subject, try to put yourself in his or her shoes and help to develop his or her ideas further by paraphrasing, using phrases like:

“You feel that …”


“So it’s your impression that …”

5. Listen

The performance development review meeting demands that you really listen. This means not only hearing the words but also following the thought process behind the words.

Make it very clear that you are closely following what the team member is saying – by sitting upright, being alert and maintaining eye contact with the team member. Use non-verbal signals such as a nod of the head, a change of position in the chair to indicate that you are listening. If you do not understand a comment, observation or statement made by the team member, always ask questions until it is clear. Never allow a discussion to continue if there is some aspect of it that cannot be understood.

6. Adopt a problem-solving approach

Whatever objective you have set for the performance review meeting, you will more than likely have identified needs or deficiencies of one kind or another. You and your team member must reach agreement on ways to accept the issues then meet or overcome these.

A recommended way to reach agreement is to adopt a problem-solving approach by focusing on searching for new ways to overcome whatever the issue is. Together you should examine the effects of previous actions, and the possible effect of new alternatives.

You can then decide together on future changes. Your role becomes more that of a coach and supporter.

7. Make Joint Decisions

You should conclude the meeting with a summary of the decisions for the future that you have both made as a result of the discussion. These decisions must be recorded in writing on the Performance Development Review Action Plan. The various columns should be used in the following way:

8. Objectives

This sets out the result you want from the action being taken to solve the problem. For example, the problem may be that the team member upsets family members by her cold and unhelpful manner. The objective on the action plan might therefore read, “Julie will develop her interpersonal skills and be more responsive to family members when they visit the centre”.


This will describe how the objective is going to be achieved.

Target date

This is the date by which the objective is to be reached.

Method of measurement

This refers to the way you will decide whether the objective has been achieved. It may be a report or a document; it will certainly include evidence.

It is much better to establish objectives for four to six key activities for the next 12 months, and include realistic and attainable goals, than to simply list a large number of unrealistic performance objectives.

On the action plan, there is space for an individual development/training plan. You should define the specific need, and write down your agreed solution and action plan to get there.

Include dates and responsibilities. The plan may cover one item or a variety of items. The time frame may be six months, or a much longer period.

You should both keep a copy of the completed action plan, which becomes, along with the job description, part of the permanent file held by each of you.

Keys to Successful Appraisals/Performance Development Reviews

  1. Honesty; genuine openness is essential to an effective performance development review.
  2. A forward-looking emphasis. The end product of the review is future development goals.
  3. Make it clear that the discussion is personal and subjective. A Centre Manager’s judgment is not divine. The best way to phrase comments is in the first person:

“In my opinion …”, “I assume …”, “I see your performance as …”.

4. There should be no surprises. If there are, communication has not been occurring. You should have been talking between reviews.

5. Approach the discussion as one adult speaking to another, not as a parent to a child. Talk in terms of valid expectations rather than simply making judgments, e.g.:

“To do job X, I expect you’ll have to be able to…”, “I’m wondering how you can best improve your ability to…”

6. Always explain the basis for any judgments. Discuss critical incidents that seem to highlight either positive or negative behaviour. Explanations about feelings or intuitions are perfectly acceptable.

7. Discuss the person’s performance, not his or her personality. The fact that a person lacks a particular skill does not mean that he or she is bad or inferior to others.

8. The process is not easy; it requires skills that are difficult to learn such as active listening, expressing and responding to feelings, describing behaviour, making deals, non-verbal communication, and win-win problem solving solutions.

9. The Performance Development Review Action Plan is an essential tool. It can be used to help make the performance development review effective. It:

  • Records commitments and mutual understandings.
  • Summarises development plans and goals.
  • Increases the probability of results.
  • Makes future discussions much easier.

Appraisals/Performance Development Reviews and Review of Pay Rates / Salary Level

The Performance Development Review model does not include a review of pay rate or salary level. This is deliberate, since the process of establishing a staff member’s performance is quite separate from the process of establishing whether a Centre can afford to adjust a staff member’s wage rate or salary level. These should be separate discussions and would normally occur as part of the budget-setting process each year.

For more information, go to: Managing People – Managing Staff / Reviewing Remuneration

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