Annual staff appraisals

With the end of the financial year coming up, many companies will be starting their staff appraisals. Generally these form a combination of a performance review of the last 12 months and discussion and setting of targets and development for the next.

Helping a client in London with preparing for their upcoming appraisal, I was able to use clean language and the NLP Meta model to enable them to make discoveries about how the appraisal process could work for them rather than it being an hour where their manager gets to tell them stuff. Interestingly, my client also picked up on some of the clean language and NLP Meta model questioning methods and discovered that they would be able to use it to their advantage at the upcoming appraisal.

I thought I’d write some of the really interesting and productive bits up here to give you an idea of how it works and how you can use it yourself.

 A typical annual appraisal consists of (generally speaking) the following four elements:

  • Previous appraisal objectives
  • Assessment of performance against company values
  • Training requirements
  • Goals for coming 12 months

With these in mind, you could have a conversation with yourself:

What would I like to have happen?

I would like to receive praise from my manager.

And what kind of praise is that?

Acknowledgement of where I’ve done well, delivered above expectations, been part of the team etc.

And when acknowledgement and delivered above expectations, been part of the team, is there anything else about praise?

I would like some kind of reward.

And what kind of reward is that?

Well it doesn’t have to be a pay rise, but perhaps some kind of commitment to helping me further my career. An investment in me.

So you can see how you can really get to the bottom of what you want (which in the example above is not necessarily more money) using clean language questioning.

I’m going to skip ahead to the last part of the appraisal when your manager asks what you would like to achieve in the next 12 months. I know that a lot of people will go “umm” and “er” at this point as they genuinely aren’t sure where they want to get to or do.

Ask yourself

What would you like to have happen?

And be honest with yourself and take a note of what comes out no matter how strange or impossible it might seem. Once you have what you would like to have happen, you can then ask yourself the “what kind of..” and “is there anything else about…” questions that we started with.

Here’s some from the session I had with my client:

What would you like to have happen?

I would like to move out of technical and into sales

And what kind of move is that?

A successful one.

[Pause: Once you get into the flow of asking and answering the “what kind of…” questions, you’ll find that you’ll automatically start elaborating and expanding your answers]

I will be bringing in £200k or more and taking home 10% of that.

And what needs to happen for a successful move?

I need to be given a chance to prove that I can do it.

And is there anything else about chance?

I need an honest opportunity to show that I can do it.

And is there anything else about honest

Yes. They need to have the same belief in me that I can do it.

And when given a chance, an honest opportunity, having the same belief, is there anything else about prove?

I’ll show that I can do it.


I’ll beat the targets set for me and bring home the bacon!

And can move happen?


Of course there was loads more exploration about the how’s and when’s and in what order etc. but I hope this gives you an idea of how using some clean language can really help get the most out of your appraisals. And if you don’t have appraisals, why not give yourself one…

What you would like to have happen?

Book a clean session with me by calling 07818 005 123.

Read more about Clean Language use in business at X-Ray Listening.

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