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Staff appraisals

This page provides information about staff appraisal.

Contents on this page:


As a manager, you are responsible for developing the activities so that they contribute to the fulfilment of Lund University's strategic goals. Through the staff appraisal, you as a manager and your employees take joint responsibility to create good conditions for a well-functioning organisation.

General information about staff appraisals 

A staff appraisal is a prepared conversation between an employee and immediate manager that aims to develop both the organisation and the individual.

At the staff appraisal, the overall goals of both the organisation and the employee must be clarified and mapped out, and also concretize the employee's skills development needs. The conversation should touch on the entire work situation with a long-term focus including feedback, evaluation and planning.

The starting point should be the organisation's focus, strategy, goals, conditions, prerequisites and need for skills, as well as the employee's work situation, performance and future plans. Well-being and cooperation and relationship issues as well as leadership (in general) can also be discussed.  

The manager and the employee must follow up on results and work performance, clarify goals and expectations, discuss development and training needs, the employee's work situation, division of responsibilities and cooperation.

It is also important that there is continuous follow-up of the conversation during the period leading up to next year's review, for example at follow-up discussions prior to salary review but also at other times.

The appraisal should lead to an individual action plan being compiled or updated for the employee. Experiences, ideas and plans from the plan should be able to contribute to the organisation's overall change and development work.

Shared responsibility for organisational development 

The purpose of the staff appraisal is to create good conditions for a well-functioning organisation that contributes to Lund University's strategic goals. By creating participation and influence in operational planning, the University wants to stimulate well-motivated employees who, together with the management, continuously communicate and plan the organisation's goals and strategies as well as the tasks of their own working group.  

Responsibility for staff appraisals 

The manager and employee have joint responsibility to ensure:

  • constructive participation in the conversation and the sharing of experiences, thoughts and needs. 
  • the content and quality of the conversation, and proper preparation beforehand. The conversation should take the previous year’s appraisal as its starting point. 

The head of department/equivalent is responsible for ensuring that staff appraisals are carried out at the organisation. The actual conversation should take place between the immediate manager and the employee. The person conducting the appraisal should be the salary-setting manager and should know and be able to influence the employee’s work situation. .The manager should have the authority to make decisions about what is agreed in the appraisal and the financial resources to implement it.

For doctoral students, someone other than the supervisor should conduct the appraisal. In cases where the supervisor is also the immediate manager with personnel responsibility, the supervisor can conduct the appraisal, but the recommendation is that the head of department or director of studies, for example, then conducts the appraisal. It is important that the doctoral student can talk about their work environment and how the supervision works with someone other than the supervisor. 

Preparation, implementation and follow-up 

Successful appraisals consist of three phases – preparation, implementation and follow-up:


Management responsibility

Organising staff appraisals is a management responsibility that means that a number of activities are planned prior to implementation.

At the operational level

Staff appraisals must be conducted with all employees annually. This also includes people on sick leave, parental leave or other leave of absence.  

If necessary, read more about what applies in the case of retirement or other planned departure, parental leave or sick leave, leave for trade union duties or other leave.

The person responsible for holding staff appraisals must be the salary-setting manager and it must be clear in the organisation who holds staff appraisals with which employees. In exceptional cases where it is not the salary-setting manager who holds staff appraisals, this must be discussed and a plan for reporting back to the salary-setting manager must be in place.

When a new manager starts his or her employment, the superior manager must ensure the new manager's competence regarding staff appraisals and, if necessary, implement competence-enhancing measures. If you need support in staff appraisals, contact your organisation's HR partner.

The following should be discussed at the department/division/unit.

Activity-specific issues  

Organisation-wide focus areas, goals, priorities, etc., must be communicated to the managers so that these are addressed in the staff appraisals.


Planning for the follow-up of the appraisal should be in place for each activity. For example, measures for joint plans in the systematic work environment management, the systematic preventive work against discrimination and joint skills development activities.

On an individual level 

Preparing the appraisal is a responsibility for both manager and employee and aims to achieve high quality appraisals.

Responsibilities of the manager 

  • Inform in good time about the appraisal, where the timetable and question areas are described. Focus on issues that you as a manager or management consider to be a priority and use the available support material. Ask the employees to make suggestions and inform the manager in advance about any other issues that the employees consider important during the discussions. 
  • Make an appointment and neutral location for the calls and set aside enough time for each call. It is less appropriate to hold the conversation in the manager's office. Set aside between 45 and 90 minutes per call depending on how much needs to be discussed. The appraisal should be perceived as positive for both manager and employee, which is why sufficient time should be booked. 
  • Follow up on previous years' individual goals and professional development plan to be able to provide feedback to each employee on the results of the previous year's staff appraisals. Think about what goals are important for the coming years, both on an individual and operational level.  
  • Consider what type of skills development may be appropriate for each employee for the coming year, depending on, for example, new and changed tasks and increased responsibility.  
  • If necessary, collect information from other clients, such as project managers or research supervisors, in order to get an overall picture of the person's assignment and work situation.

Employee's responsibilities 

  • Follow up on previous years' discussions and go through the individual goals and professional development plan that were set at that time.  
  • Prepare a description of your work situation. 
  • Prepare your own goals and assignments as well as the need for concrete activities and development to be able to carry out your mission and achieve the goals. 

It is important that both manager and employee come prepared to the appraisal so that the appraisal is perceived as equal. The staff appraisal is not about the manager telling the employee what will happen in the coming year. The idea is that the manager and the employee will jointly plan the coming year through dialogue based on the overall goals that exist.

If necessary, see specific questions

Before retirement or other planned departure

When an employee leaves their employment for retirement or other reasons, it is important to make a plan well in advance for the transfer of skills and tasks for which the employee is responsible. Keep in mind that different job categories may have different notice periods due to length of employment or local collective agreements.

  • Identify what tasks the employee has and conduct a joint dialogue on how these can best be taken care of before the departure. 
  • Identify work groups and other areas of responsibility that the employee has and is involved in so that they can be taken care of in a good way. 

During parental leave or sick leave

When an employee is either on parental leave or on long-term sick leave, the employee must be offered a performance review. If the employee does not wish to hold the interview during ongoing parental leave or sick leave, the interview is preferably held in connection with the employee's return to work.

On these occasions, it can be a good idea to discuss the assignment that the employee will have when returning to work and what support and skills development the employee needs.

In the case of leave for trade union duties 

When an employee has an ongoing assignment as a trade union representative, either full-time or part-time, the employment from which the employee is temporarily on leave remains in place. Employees who are trade union representatives must have a performance review with their regular manager and the review should focus on how the employee can maintain contact with the workplace and establish a plan for returning to work that can be activated when the employee returns to work.

For an employee who is a trade union representative for a long period of time and on a larger scale, it is important to maintain contact with the workplace and maintain a certain level of competence. This is to ensure that the employee does not end up in a worse position than they would have been in had they not been a trade union representative.

For other types of leave 

An employee who has been granted leave of absence for reasons other than the above is entitled to a performance review in connection with the return to thier original employment.


Mutual trust and a shared responsibility 

The appraisal should be based on mutual trust and both parties have a shared responsibility for the appraisal. Manage your time so that you have time for everything. Staff appraisals should be documented and signed by both parties.

Things to consider during a staff appraisal

  • Telephones should be turned off.
  • Raise agreed-upon issues.
  • Put on hold any issues that require time to resolve and that do not have a direct relation to the intentions of the appraisal.
  • Listen actively. Make sure you understand each other.
  • Respect each other's opinions and experiences.
  • Do not make promises that will not be fulfilled.
  • The conversation is in confidence. Agree on what, if anything, will be passed on. 

Conduct the staff appraisal from three time perspectives: 

  • Retrospect.
  • Current situation.
  • The future.


Follow up and give feedback on what has happened since the last staff appraisal by reviewing the previous year’s goals and professional development plan together: 

  • Evaluate the activities that were supposed to be carried out according to the last staff appraisal.
  • Follow up on previously set goals and what has affected the outcomes.
  • Get the employee’s view of the past year.
  • Give constructive feedback on work performance.

Current situation 

Conduct a joint review of the current work situation including: 

  • Work tasks: main tasks, own performance and results, wishes for change – are professional skills being used in the best way?
  • Participation in the workplace: internal meetings, seminars, workplace meetings, active engagement, changes.
  • Work situation: work climate, stress, anxiety, victimization and harassment.
  • Physical work environment: equipment, facilities, aids.
  • Collaboration with others: colleagues and students.
  • Conditions: resources, authority to make decisions, time, influence.
  • Personal responsibility: engagement, initiative, taking responsibility, treatment of others. 
  • The manager's leadership.

The future 

Create a common understanding of the employee’s tasks and how to prioritise them, goals and areas for development. 

The organisation’s goals are broken down and provide a basis individual goals. It’s a good idea to discuss the organisation’s goals beforehand in the team and make the employees familiar with the organisation’s planning. Goals should be concrete, clear and possible to implement and monitor. 

When individual goals are set and the employee’s tasks and assignments are specified, it’simportant to discuss the employee’s skills and professional development needs. This should then be documented in the professional development plan.

Briefly about competence: 

  • Consist of knowledge, ability and willingness to act.
  • Is formed in the interaction between different individuals and their values.
  • Is further developed through personal reflection, experiences and the desire to learn.

In a broad sense, competence can be defined as the ability to cope with the various demands of a given situation in a given organisation. Competence is developed when a person is driven by curiosity, a sense of purpose and the motivation to learn.

Professional development goals can refer to both the competenceneeded to perform given tasks, as well as skills development that enables an employee’s career development.

Documentation of the appraisal

On the basis of the conversation, goals for the individual are set and the professional development plan is updated (templates can be downloaded in the right-hand column). The plan is used as a basis for follow-up during the year and the following year’s staff appraisal.

As the documents are the basis for further discussions between the parties and serves as a starting point for the performance and results to be assessed in the subsequent salary review, it must be clear what the parties have agreed. Should there be a change of manager during the financial year, clear documentation makes it easier for the new manager to take over from the previous one.

Keep in mind that documentation from a staff appraisal may constitute a public document and sensitive information should not be documented here. If there’s a need to document sensitive information, this should be documented in other ways. Issues of a private nature, rehabilitation, misconduct, etc. are best addressed in another conversation and documented in a manner appropriate for that purpose, for example in agreements on tests, written reprimands and so on. If in doubt, contact the HR function at your faculty or equivalent.

Both the manager and the employee sign the documentation to confirm that the content reflects what emerged from the conversation.

A follow-up of agreed activities should be done continuously throughout the year as this is part of the strategic professional development plan and ensures that checks are made to see if progress is in line with the established plan. Both manager and employee are responsible for implementing the activities described in the staff appraisal plan.

Plan and implement collective health and safety measures according to the development plan, as part of the systematic work environment management.

Feedback on the appraisal

Manager and employee should jointly evaluate the appraisal. This can be done at a meeting in the near future, as time is often needed for reflection before an evaluation can take place.

The aim of developing and improving the format and the conducting of staff appraisals is to: 

  • Evaluate the purpose and content and make suggestions for improvement.
  • Enhance the process of staff appraisals.

The annual cycle of staff appraisals

The recommendation is to hold appraisals during January - March each year, in order to follow the salary review process. Regardless of whether the salary conversation/salary setting conversation takes place according to the timeframe, it is important to hold the appraisals as planned.

Remember to document both the staff appraisal and the salary conversation/salary setting conversation. Support material for the staff appraisal includes both a template for documenting the employee's individual goals and professional development plan and a conversation guide for both manager and employee to use as a starting point. The templates are available in the right-hand column.


In the first instance, contact your nearest HR function.

You may also use the HR Division’s case management system to ask questions about different areas connected to HR encompassed in your role:  

Find the right HR information and support