Designing the Performance Appraisal Form: Personal Development Section


In this article, we explore how we incorporate the task of management planning for staff training and development into the annual performance management process.


Staff Development lands up as an element within the performance management process because of 3 basic reasons:

  • To provide a formal opportunity for managers to review the training and development needs for their staff and to make the necessary recommendations so as to improve or sustain day to day operations.
  • To communicate to staff that there is an opportunity to discuss about their training and development needs (professional and career growth).
  • To provide formal opportunity for managers to think about training and development in the building of capability and capacity within the business so that it would be ready to seize business opportunities when they arises.

Sad Situation

The following are examples of how training and development opportunities and spending are abused. This is not to say that at best they are implemented with the right intentions.

  • Managers elect their favorite staff to go for training.
  • Junior staff and elderly staff are neglected.
  • Staff is elected to go for training against their will.
  • Staff treats training as a get away from office event.

Incorporation of Personal Development in Performance Appraisal Form

Some performance appraisal forms do not have a section to review personal development needs of the employee. For those forms that do, there are a few traditional ways personal development plan are incorporated into the performance appraisal form:

Identify the areas of strengths/competencies and areas for improvements/developments (Examples 1 and 2)

A variation of example 1 that also take goals into perspective (Example 3)

A variation of example 1 that looks at improvements only (Examples 4 and 5)

Identify the what and how knowledge, skills and competencies could be developed and the results measured (Examples 6 and 7)

Obtaining feedback from employee (Example 8)

Letting the department head make the assessment of development needs for the employee (Examples 9 and 10)

Defining development goals, with target dates, priority and indicators (Examples 10 and 12)

Aligning employee’s development needs with the goals set for the employee for the year, and with the department goals (Examples 13 and 14)

Example 1


Source: University of Texas at Dallas

Example 2


Source: Centenary College of Louisiana

Example 3



Source: San Jose State University

Example 4


Source: Division of Personnel, West Virginia, US

Example 5



Source: Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices, Singapore

Example 6


Source: University of London

Example 7


Source: Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care

Example 8


Source: SHRM (US)

Example 9


Source: Wright State University

Example 10


Source: Marquette University

Example 11


Source: Fashion Institute of Technology

Example 12


Source: University of California, Riverside

Example 13


Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Example 14


Source: University of Pittsburgh

Other Observations

The majority of performance appraisal do not take into account the career stage of the employee and the need to moderate the job expectations or job standards.


Source: Office of Civilian Human Resources, Department of the Navy, US

The majority of performance appraisals forgot to take into account the staff’s disciplinary records.


Source: Hong Kong ICAC

The majority of performance appraisals do not allow for the record of critical or significant incidents that occurred during the performance period.


Source: University of Puget Sound, Academic Internship and Cooperative Education

Some forms do allow for flexibility in choosing the factors to evaluate personal performance.


Source: University of Puget Sound, Academic Internship and Cooperative Education

Some forms check whether poor performance could be due to the staff’s lack of clarity about his responsibilities and duties or ask whether the staff is still working on tasks that had already been changed.


Source: University of Wisconsin, La Crosse

Be Careful of Confusion

It is important not to confuse a personal development plan with a personal improvement plan. One is for development purposes while the other is for disciplinary purposes. Here is an example of personal improvement plan.



Source: University of California, Berkeley

Limitations in Implementation

There are limitations in implementing personal development plans as they are traditionally done in organizations.

  • Job descriptions are standardized but employees are unique in their strengths and weaknesses in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities. A point to note is the concept of paying people by job using job evaluation may sounds rational but it does not take into account that people are unique and that business is after the results and not the process.
  • Job applicants come as provided by the job market. The other truth is not everyone want to join the industry or the employer, especially when the industry pays low, have high turnover or there is anticipation that Management is hand handed.
  • Training and development activities need to be funded and scheduled. For performance appraisal forms that carry a space for managers to write down their training plans, it is going to be a big disappointment for the employee and broken promises made by the supervisor or manager.
  • The training may not be externally available. You may have to tailor your own training materials. This is often a tough call when the HR Department do not have a trainer or lacks manpower to develops the material and Operating Department may not have the manpower or time or may not be willing to collaborate.
  • Employees “turn”, that is they join the organization and they leave.
  • For various reasons the business is not doing well so the first thing that it would avoid incurring is training and development costs.

An Important Management Tip from Peter F. Drucker

“The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all of the available strengths – the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.”

Source: Peter F. Drucker, The Effective Executive: the definitive guide to getting the right things done

The Drucker Institute posted an article on its website titled “Tackling Weakness”. When talking about human beings, Peter F. Drucker often stressed about building on strengths and not weaknesses.

He said “One cannot do anything with what one cannot do. One cannot achieve anything with what one does not do. One can only build on strength. One can only achieve by doing…….Developing your strengths does not mean ignoring your weaknesses. On the contrary, one is always conscious of them…..But one can only overcome weakness by developing strengths.”

The article concluded that what will be impactful is to make those results from using strengths significant to render weaknesses manageable and even irrelevant.

Riverside  Coach website carried an article “Build on Strengths: Drucker The Effective Executive” pointed out “A central purpose of organization is to structure work to enable the strengths of people and to make weaknesses inconsequential…… The keys to building the organizational structure that enables, even demands, performance through the application of strengths are the following four rules.

  1. Create doable jobs, not jobs that require super humans.
  2. Make the jobs big and demanding.
  3. Understand clearly what your personnel can do. This appraisal takes place well before any thought of a job.
  4. Acknowledge that you have to put up with weaknesses.

Personnel decisions need to be based on the actual performance in current and earlier positions. Focus on results, not training, education, other personal attributes, focus on the results that the person has produced. This is by far the best indicator of future performance.

On the other hand the effective manager must move quickly to remove people who have proven not to produce the results required.”

My Opinions

You may want to consider the performance appraisal form as a record for the staff’s strengths and weaknesses.

In a separate part of the form that is not reveal to the staff, the supervisor may make notes on training and development plans, as well as re-deployment plans for the staff.

Another method is use a form that records these 2 items for the whole department. This will help the department head take the entire department into perspective in terms of affordability in terms of training and development budget and manpower deployment.

The focus is

  • Train or develop staff in their strengths or where they have potentials.
  • Move people away from what they cannot do well.
  • Check that the department continues to serve its role as a team member in the business.