Note: Some of the information in this article has been taken and/or modified from TotaraLMS Help Centre.
The Appraisal feature is a systematic and, in most cases, periodic process that assesses an individual performance in relation to pre-established criteria and organizational objectives.
This is a very important process for any organization. Appraisals in Totara are part of the organization’s performance management system. How this system is managed determines, to a large extent, the success or failure of the organization.
Part of the appraisals is the 360 feedback, where again it is implemented a systematic process of evaluation of performance.
If appraisals are properly managed in LMS Totara, it will improve the organization’s performance. It will help facilitate management-employee communication.
The objective of this article is to provide the information needed to successfully create and set up a new appraisal, and then manage the entire process.
Summary of Sections
Before getting into the details of creating and managing appraisals, please note the structure that will be followed.
- Creating an appraisal
- Add stages
- Add pages
- Preview an appraisal
- Appraisal notification message
- Assigning users to appraisals
- Appraisal activation
The article will conclude with pointers to further resources:
Creating an appraisal
In order to create an appraisal, please navigate to
Administration block > Site administration > Appraisals > Manage Appraisals
On the page that loads, if other appraisals have been made previously, they will be shown here. To create a new appraisal, click on ‘Create Appraisal’.
On the ‘Create a new appraisal’ page, you can start filling the necessary data for your appraisal.
In the General Tab you can fill in the Name and an optional Description.
After you finish entering the necessary information, click on ‘Create appraisal’.
The next tab you need to add information to is the Content tab. Here you can set up Stages and Pages.
An appraisal can be broken into multiple stages. Stages are in fact time periods. For an example, a year can be divided in four stages. You can include as many stages as you like, and each stage has certain steps or actions that need to be completed.
Click on ‘Add Stage’. On the page that loads, you will need to fill out the following fields:
- Name: The name of the stage. (e.g. First Quarter Review)
- Description: This is an optional field. This will be displayed alongside the stage’s name
- Lock stage after completion: You can select which roles will not have the right to change their answers after submission. All roles involved are available for selection.
- Create pages for this stage: We recommend leaving this blank for now. In this article page creation will be shown using a different approach.
Click ‘Add stage’ to complete the stage setup.
The next step in adding content is adding pages to a stage.
Once at least one stage has been added, an option will be given in the Content tab that says ‘Add new page’.
Usually the first page is reserved for personal information.
Click on ‘Add new page’ and enter ‘Personal Information’ as the name, then click ‘Add new page’ to start editing its content.
Next, add questions. You will notice that there is a drop down menu, where it says ‘Choose…’ and a button that says ‘Add’.
Click on the drop-down menu and multiple options will be shown divided in three categories
- Review Question
- Non-question element
In the ‘Question’ category there are question types that will allow users to answer the questions posed in the format of ‘File upload’, ‘Multiple choice’ etc.
In the ‘Review Question’ category there are questions that pull answers from different areas of the system. We can ask questions about ‘Goals’, ‘Objective Plans’ etc.
In the ‘Non-question element’, as the name suggests, there are elements such as ‘Company logo’, ‘Fixed text’, ‘Redisplay previous question’ and ‘User profile information’.
So in order to add personal information, we can choose ‘User profile information’ and click ‘Add’. This is going to be the topic of our first question.
In the ‘Add User profile information’ we can select the fields that we want to add (i.e. the information we want to be displayed). For this example we can select:
- User full name
- Email address
- Manager’s name
Also, you have to select which roles will be able to view the user profile information. We will select Learner, Manager and Manager’s Manager.
When you are done, click on ‘Save changes’.
There are many other types of questions you can choose from the menu. As another example we will look at is multiple choice questions.
We can create a new page. Click on Add new page and we will name it Confirmation.
In the Confirmation page we will add a question with multiple choices.
Then we will add content from the ‘Questions’ category – Multiple choice (one answer) – and click ‘Add’.
As with the previous question, a new window will pop out. Here we edit the settings and the question.
In the Question field we will add the question itself. For example, “Are you our employee?”
In Available choices there is a drop-down menu. The first option is ‘Create new options’ and the second option that comes with Totara is ‘Yes or no’. The Yes or No is a form of a template that you can use.
We will select the Yes or No option.
When you click Yes or No two fields will be shown, pre-made. You can select a default field if you like, or you can even add additional fields, one of which could be the default answer. We will click on ‘Make selected field default’ next to the Yes option.
We will set the ‘Display settings’ as radio buttons.
Under ‘Permission’ there is a table. In this table there are four columns
- View other role’s answer
By selecting the column’s boxes for the appropriate role, you can set the permissions.
In our case the Learner and Manager have the permission to Answer, and the Manager’s Manager can view other role’s answer.
Note: An appraiser can be any user with appropriate permissions set up by the site administrator.
Next, click ‘Save changes’ and thus this question in the Confirmation page has been set.
The same steps apply for all other questions.
After you finish with the first stage, you can add other stages, pages and questions and you can move questions between stages. For an example, we can create a second stage called Second Quarter Review. Using drag and drop, we can select Personal information from First Quarter Analysis and move it to Second Quarter Review.
Preview an appraisal
After finishing with the stages, pages and questions, you can preview the Appraisal.
On the Manage Appraisals page, on the right, just above the tabs and the Stages table there is the ‘Preview appraisal’ button.
When you click on this button a new window will pop up with the preview of the appraisal.
On the right there is a ‘Preview appraisal as’ drop-down menu, with four options
- Manager’s Manager
Using this drop down menu, you can view the appraisal from the perspective of different roles.
In the initial pop up, an overview of the stages is shown. You can enter the stage in more detail using the Preview button.
After you click the Preview button, you are taken to the Pages section where the questions are shown.
Note: Sometimes the text of the question is scrambled with the other options in the question, but when the appraisal is activated this will sort itself out.
Appraisal notification message
After you set up an appraisal, you can set up a notification message.
In order set up a notification message, click on the ‘Messages’ tab on the ‘Manage appraisals’ page.
When the Messages tab loads, you will notice a button labeled ‘Create message’.
Click on the button and to enter the message’s settings and edit the contents.
As a sample we will create a message for Appraisal activation.
Under ‘Event’, in the drop-down menu choose ‘Appraisal Activation’. You will notice that the stages are also represented here.
Next we set up the timing. There are three options:
- Send immediately when event happens
- Send before
- Send after
The field ‘How much earlier/later’ specifies when the notification will be sent out.
In the Recipients section we select which roles will receive the notification.
Then we have the option ‘Only send to people if their stage is’ complete or incomplete.
Next, you will notice a drop-down menu with two options
- Send same messages to all roles
- Same different message to each role
If you click on different messages, the fields below will expand, as each role will have its own message fields.
In the message field(s), we have the title and the message body, where you write the message that will be sent to those assigned to the appraisal.
Assigning users to appraisals
Assigning users to Appraisals is done through the ‘Assignments’ tab of the ‘Manage appraisals’ page.
When you click on ‘Assignments’ two sections are displayed on the page:
- Assigned Groups
- Assigned Learners
In the ‘Assigned Groups’ there is a drop-down menu with three options
This means that we can assign users according to these three categories.
In our example we will choose ‘Organization’.
After we choose ‘Organization’, a window pops out where we choose the organization which this appraisal will be assigned to.
For an example, the IT organization - Lambda.
This brings us back to the Assignments tab where the users that are members of this organization are displayed.
After finishing all the necessary settings and entering all the data, the appraisal needs to be activated..
In the ‘Manage appraisals’ page, just above the tabs there is a Status of the appraisal and a link that says ‘Activate now’.
When you click on Activate now the system will check if everything is done correctly and it will not execute until all the errors are fixed.
Things to look out for are questions, due dates, etc.
If everything is OK, a message will appear
“Activating this appraisal will disable changes to all stages, pages and questions, and will lock the list of assigned users. It will make the appraisal available to those users and send out any messages you have configured.
Do you really want to activate this appraisal?”
If you are certain that all the options we discussed earlier are set correctly, click on ‘Activate’.
A message appears that confirms the appraisal has been activated.
A table showing the Name, Start, Learners, Status and Options is displayed.
If the appraisal is activated, you can only copy or close the appraisal. If you decide to close the appraisal, you will be taken to a web page where you can send a notification to affected users.
Please find below a number of pointers to further information