By now, you will have implemented your pay policies, and it will very soon be time to conduct the first set of appraisals since this was done. Although this may be the first time that the appraisal directly affects pay progression, the objectives of the appraisal itself should be no different. The same general principles of assessment of the past and planning for the future will apply. Although it is certainly true of most situations that there is no substitute for good preparation (familiarising yourself with the expected standards of performance relevant to that role and that individual), probably the easiest hurdle to fall at is that final one – that of following up the actions that are decided at the meeting. Obviously if you do not implement the decisions you have made during the appraisal meeting, you will not see the improvements you had hoped to bring about. Worse, employees may lose interest, and job satisfaction could be damaged, particularly if they feel their effort (both in preparing for the meeting and in the period of time since their last appraisal) has been wasted. Failing to follow the meeting up can give them the impression that you don’t have any genuine interest in their role or their advancement. It is therefore vital that you record the assessment of the employee’s contribution, potential and development needs, so that you have a ready-made plan of action, and objectives to review next time around. Make that plan clear and simple, and although it is useful to assess some elements with tick boxes, combine this with written sections for any specific comments that need to be recorded. Do not forget that appraisals should always be positive and the main focus should be on development for the future. Although you will review past performance, do not fall into the trap of having your meeting become a disciplinary or investigatory hearing by another name; if you are having problems with the employee’s performance, any necessary disciplinary action should be in hand separately. Of course, conversely, you should not let the link to pay progression cause you to shy away from highlighting any performance areas that do need addressing.