The Trouble with Performance Appraisals

imageLet me be clear, I don’t have a problem with performance appraisals per se. I can see their use, and I don’t think it’s a good thing for employees (or Managers for that matter) to simply wander around work, doing what they’ve always done, without any feedback, or opportunity to grow and develop.

However, as an employee who has been through quite a lot of performance appraisals, it seems to me that employers can fall into 1 of 2 errors. Either they end up doing it in a way that either leaves their staff trembling with fear, or the process leaves their staff feeling disengaged.

So…. as an employee who has experienced both the good, and the bad in performance appraisals, here are some questions for employers and managers to ask themselves when embarking on the performance appraisal process.

  • Do your appraisals ask relevant questions? The number of times I’ve been handed a ‘stock standard, one-size-fits-all’ set of questions that bear no relation to anything that I do! Then I’m expected to reflect and answer them in meaningful ways. The frustration builds as you realise that the questionnaire was meant for someone else.
  • Do you invite meaningful dialogue? Don’t be fooled by how much someone can write, or talk. Sometimes the straight forward answers are the best ones. And for introverts (like me) who don’t have the gift of many words, sometimes the short answer works better. If you invite waffle, then waffle is what you will get.
  • What do you mean by ‘Continuous Improvement’? How many times have I heard that buzzword! Usually its followed by how we could always push harder, work longer, assimilate more information and increase productivity. I have no problem with improving in what I do, I should. But I’m looking around at people who are increasingly stretched and feeling the pressure, wondering what more they will be asked to do.
  • Do you really want to hear what your employees have to say? I know it isn’t meant to be, but I’ve been through enough performance appraisals where I’ve felt that I have to justify my very existence in the workplace. I usually come out of the meeting deflated and emotionally exhausted.
  • What sort of person do you have in mind? Most performance appraisals seem to have the motivated, extrovert in mind. The person with boundless energy who runs at 100kmh all the time. For someone who moves at a slower pace, that’s a hard thing to adjust to. Not everyone is a high powered go-getter, in fact statistics suggest that these people generally make up only a third of your workforce.

About andy63

Auditorium/Facilities Manager at Kennedy Baptist College. Family man, Dockers Supporter, NFL and NBA tragic who loves the Red Bull Air Race and a good meal. A Christian who is grateful for grace and forgiveness and the fact that Jesus is alive.

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