1. Do it regularly. But twice a year is plenty. An appraisal should simply formalise things you've already talked about. If it throws up any surprises, something's amiss in your day-to-day communication.
2. Prepare in advance. Don't mutter about hours wasted ticking boxes; show a genuine interest by bringing specific points to discuss. Give your appraisee ample notice too, especially if it's their chance to argue for a pay rise.
3. Invite their opinions. Ask how they think things are going. This should yield clues as to whether they'll take your analysis as constructive criticism or the spark for a three-day strop.
4. Be thorough. Build their confidence by highlighting what they're doing right. Aim for more positives than negatives, but be frank about weaknesses.
5. Be specific. Use examples of clients, jobs or crises to illustrate where change is needed - anything from 'you could have dealt with the Jones account better' to 'how do you think you handled the takeover?'
6. Complete the loop. A culture of 360-degree feedback can descend into a quagmire of sticky office politics, but providing a formal time to air grievances will ensure that everyone is doing their best to improve things.
7. Arrive at a conclusion. Set a plan for the future and schedule a further meeting to review progress. Focus on no more than two or three things to improve on, picking the most achievable and crucial to the post.