Employers have probably been appraising people who work for them since employment has been a thing. The modern performance appraisal, however, has only been around since the post-WWII period, according to the What Is Human Resource website. Originally, appraisals focused solely on whether the employee deserved a raise or a pay cut. Later, appraisals were used for setting goals and creating a road map for employee improvement.
It hasn’t been a popular development. Not only do employees hate performance reviews, but 95 percent of managers hate giving appraisals, according to PayScale. The criticism of the performance appraisal process comes for multiple reasons:
Lack of objectivity in performance appraisal. Regent University says one of the biggest appraisal issues is employees’ belief they’re not evaluated fairly: Instead of being judged on performance, employees worry they’re judged by race, gender or how much they and the manager get along. Forbes says as managers have different standards, what one manager considers exceptional might get a barely adequate rating from a colleague.
Comparing an employee to their coworkers. Harvard Business Review says employees think appraisals are inaccurate and unfair when they’re compared to their colleagues rather than their own past performance. Even when the supervisor ranks an employee above their coworkers, the employee may still feel dissatisfied.
Clashing goals, according to The Cut. Employees are usually proud of their work, so they expect to hear good feedback from their boss. Instead, the appraisal usually includes a list of things they need to improve. Organizations often frown on uniformly positive appraisals, so the manager may feel pressured to find fault even if they think their employee is great.
Neither manager nor employee really give a crap. The manager can’t commit if they have to provide critical feedback they don’t believe in. Employees who feel they’re not getting the respect they deserve may not care what their review says is wrong with them.
Performance reviews don’t change anything. The Cut says maybe a third of appraisals improve employee performance. Another third do worse, and the performance of the rest remains constant.
Appraisals suck up time. The average manager spends more than five weeks a year on appraisals, while employees spend a week of work on appraisal-related activity.
Leaders mistake measurement for management
Too many employers regard performance management as a measurement exercise when, in reality, it’s about feedback, said David Wilson, founder and CEO of Fosway Group, a U.K.-based HR industry analyst firm.
Annual Performance Appraisals No Longer Work
Due to the inconsistency and inaccuracy in the feedback process, annual appraisal conversations fail to help employees in improving their performance and increasing their productivity.
Ideally, employee goals should be reviewed throughout the year and kept in alignment with organizational goals. Unfortunately, once-in-a-year appraisals miss out such opportunities and this keep employees away from contributing towards organizational success.
Employees don’t trust the process
Employee buy-in is just as important, and the key to earning that is transparency.
A common issue is that employees are confused about how they’re rated. If employees view the rating system as mysterious or unfair, it is unlikely they will support the process, which is likely to affect other issues, such as employee experience. This is true even if a system is ratingless.
Some employers have adopted ratingless performance management systems in the last few years, Renda said. These reviews don’t include any kind of score or grade, or even descriptions such as “excellent” or “needs improvement.” However, many workers believe managers are rating them somewhere within the performance management technology’s back end. Only by educating them about the system’s workings can you overcome that.
Leaders view tech as the solution
Employers can’t simply implement a performance management platform and consider their work done.
Addressing performance management challenges requires integrating both processes and tools into the organization’s workflow. That makes the implementation of performance management technology a major transformation project.
Strategies for managers to improve performance reviews
- Take out time to conduct review meetings at regular intervals and provide feedback regularly, not just annually. Real-time feedback is always more suitable for taking corrective actions in a timely manner.
- Document employees’ performance throughout the year to evaluate progress at each step. Paper files are outdated and cumbersome. Use automated performance appraisal software to consolidate yearly performance data of all team members.
- Review performance reports continually and capture notes periodically to record and view performance discussions throughout.
- Engage employees in two-way performance discussions whenever the meeting is conducted for employees’ performance development planning. There should be a formal plan for skill development.
- A performance evaluation process becomes effective only when employees’ performance is improved and overall team productivity is increased. For better performance, employee goals should be aligned with organization objectives at all time. Managers need to review employee goals periodically to accomplish this aim.
- One of the most important aspects of performance evaluation is employee self-appraisal. Managers and HR should review employees’ self-appraisal ratings and feedback, and analyse it before getting involved in performance improvement discussions. Through self-appraisal, employees can show how they perceive their own performance and what their development needs are.