Are Performance Appraisals Dead?

Thinking about dropping your appraisal system?  There’s been quite a lot in the press about leading organisations cancelling traditional annual appraisals.gravestone

What would you gain?

  • Management time – it takes quite a long time to prepare for the meetings and write up appraisal documentation;
  • Less staff anxiety over what the boss is going to say this year plus the avoidance of embarrassing, awkward. conversations;
  • Managers would be spared the fear of links being made between performance and pay.

What would you lose?

  • Performance management would become ad hoc and some managers would avoid doing it altogether;
  • The opportunity to motivate people and help them to develop their ability to add value;
  • Quite a lot of bureaucratic paper-based systems.

A quick review of some recent articles suggests that although the annual appraisal meeting may be under threat the management responsibility to manage performance is not.  Annual meetings are being replaced with more frequent reviews.  Numerical scoring systems are also being abandoned as they create bad feelings amongst staff.  The drive for higher levels of productivity are leading to less complex box ticking exercises with more emphasis on value creation and effectiveness.

In an ideal world people would evaluate their performance daily, make rapid changes and always know the difference between value creation and value destruction.  Is that ever going to happen?  It’s unlikely because for some people a job is just a means to an end although they will always want to know that they are valued.  Moreover, the difference between value adding and value destruction is not obvious – if it was there would be no need for training and coaching.  People will always learn best from timely, friendly, accurate and constructive feedback.

My personal view is that the reason that appraisal is so widely despised is that it is often done in a cack handed way, it is just too focused on paperwork and that the primary purpose has long been lost in a bureaucratic fog.

Here are some articles that discuss the issues around appraisal in the 21st century.

This article argues that they are far from going out of fashion Forbes on Appraisals Apparently 85% of US managers say that their performance management systems are OK.

This is a good article with some great tips on what to focus on so as to improve your systems A balanced view

Is it time to give appraisals up?  This article is a good overview of the issues on this subject.

Let me know what you think.

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