Informal appraisals occur when a manager provides significant feedback and direction to an employee outside of a formal review meeting. Consistent, informal feedback is important to build rapport with employees and to coach them in an ongoing manner. The specific strategy you take in implementing informal appraisals affects their impact on your organizational culture.

Individual Meetings

One of the most recognized informal appraisal methods is the "1 on 1" appraisal. This format involves the manager setting regular meetings, often monthly, with employees. Though you set the meetings similar to the way you do with formal evaluations, the conversations are less official and more about developing the employee. In selling, a manager might have bi-weekly or monthly meetings with each sales rep to review sales performance, to address shortfalls and to establish near-term training needs.

Positive Feedback

A positive version of informal appraisal feedback occurs when a manager notices an employee performing well, overcoming an obstacle or achieving a goal, and offers praise. The point is to immediately reinforce the desirable behavior or achievement so that employee is compelled to perform in a similar or better way going forward. The immediacy and regularity of positive praising affects its impact on the employee. A benefit of praising in the moment is that the employee doesn't have to wait until a formal review to know where she stands.

Constructive Criticism

A contrast to the immediate praise is immediate criticism or negative feedback. This approach is applied when you spot an employee making a mistake, making a poor decision or simply under-performing. Similar to positive feedback, the immediacy of constructive criticism is important. You need to address the undesirable behavior right away so the employee know the specifics of the incident in the moment. Efficiency is important with constructive criticism as well. You want to correct the issue, but you don't want to drag out the conversation and berate or demotivate the employee.

Pros and Cons

Informal appraisals give an employee a more current, ongoing perspective on performance. It helps you avoid delivering positive or negative surprises in a formal review, which is important for internal communication. You also have the ability to motivate better performance and stem problems quickly. A drawback of informal evaluations is that you don't plan for them as you do with a formal review. The spontaneity of them could lead to misstatements, false assumptions, poor timing and excessive emphasis on negative points.