A performance appraisal or performance review is the process of assessing an employee's job performance over a fixed time period. The evaluation covers a range of questions set in advance by the Human Resources team, but broadly includes what's gone well, what could be improved and what the employee's objectives are for the future. Many businesses like to assess the employee's demonstration of core values and job competencies, as well as training and development requirements. A good performance review should include both a self-assessment from the employee and a manager's evaluation.
While performance appraisals were traditionally conducted once a year, many organisations are moving to regular check-ins where employees and managers touch base monthly, quarterly and bi-annually. The appraisal process is still a core part of continuous performance management but is much more effective when combined with 360 feedback, goal setting and one on one meetings.
See also: The Essential Guide to Performance Reviews.