How to appraise your IT staff

Another key difference when evaluating IT staff is the role of experience. In many other disciplines, experience is incremental. The day-to-day details of the job may change but the fundamental best practice remains the same. In IT, what a technician was working on 20 or even 10 years ago could have become obsolete.

"The key criteria to evaluate for IT personnel are the employee's current level of competence and their ability to learn new skills, absorb new technologies and embrace change in the future," says Sandbrook. In IT, an employee's capacity to develop and continue to learn throughout their career is vital.

"However, appraisals of IT staff should cover soft skills, too," she adds. Many technology employers fall short by focusing mainly on evaluating technology skills. But IT staff don't operate in a vacuum whether inside the organisation or outside. Communication is a valuable skill.

"IT experts need to be able to explain technology issues to a non-technology literate audience. They need to operate fluently in front of the customer, and interact with colleagues from other departments. A good appraisal will assess the whole person and not just a set of technical skills," says Sandbrook.

How to conduct a great IT staff appraisal

Bedell-Pearce says that when appraising IT staff, organisations should use standardised appraisal forms, give the employee a chance before the meeting to review the questions and prepare thoughtful responses, and type up the outcomes of the meeting.

Standardised appraisal forms will help staff to understand the benchmarks on which they are assessed. When people know how they are graded, they have a basis on which to make decision in carrying out their daily tasks.

The manager must type up notes and agreed actions from the appraisal as soon as possible afterwards, and get them signed off for accuracy by the employee. This significantly reduces the opportunity for miscommunication and mismanaging expectations.