Problems with performance appraisals
Originally published Dec 6, 2016 Updated Dec 31, 2019.
1. Everyone [secretly] hates them
Whether you are an employee, a line manager or HR/Personnel department, very few people look forward to them. Some people like to hear how well they are doing or ask about career progression. If being honest, very few people actually like this time of year though. Some hate the form filling or time away from their ‘real’ job.
Others struggle to list their own strengths or weaknesses. Some are simply happy living in the day-to-day bubbles and would rather be left to get the job done. Whatever the reasons, a recent study highlighted on Forbes.com showed that over half of employees thought that performance reviews were NEVER or RARELY open, honest or meaningful.
2. They tend to be too one-sided
Typically this tends to be the manager talking too much rather than the employee, but it does happen the other way around as well sometimes. Although employees typically want to hear how well they are doing, most contemporary advice is to let the employee do most of the talking. It can be all too easy to reel of a list of mistakes the employee has made. Perhaps there is a long list of work that is outstanding or operational tasks that need to be shared amongst the team. All of these things are distractions from the main purpose of providing constructive feedback to help the employee improve where necessary.
3. Remuneration or pay rises often get brought up
Now whilst there is nothing specifically wrong with this, it does make it more difficult to openly and honestly talk about performance when money is involved. For companies that are only offering an annual appraisal rather than more regular sessions, it could be argued that employees may not have another opportunity to discuss pay.
4. They are usually held annually
This is nowhere near as frequent as it should be. How can either an employee or line manager be expected to remember things that went well or not so well from 11 months ago, or 11 weeks ago for that matter? Here at achievedly, we believe that regular ongoing feedback is the way to consistently and usefully provide feedback to employees or colleagues (don’t just limit it to line managers, let other contribute to employee development as well).
5. They are rarely consistent across the company
Each manager or supervisor often has their own approach and take on the company guidelines. Some managers want to get the paperwork out of the way as quickly as possible. Others have been known to give employees better scores based on how much they like them.
6. Scoring people on a scale is a de-motivator
Do you remember those school reports when you got good grades in subjects you liked? Then there were the other grades for things like Algebra or Home Economics (personal problem areas!). Despite never feeling that I would use algebra in the real world, it always saddened me to see my average A-B grade marred by the D/E grades for Home Economics. Much like being scored Excellent in communication skills and dealing with customers in an annual appraisal, when product knowledge or technical ability get marked down lower than other areas, it can have a real negative affect on morale.
So there you have it, my list of 6 key problems with performance appraisals. There will undoubtedly there will be other issues or problems in different companies or different industries. This list has been compiled based on recurring problems we have seen over the last few years. Working predominantly with blue chip organisations, these 6 problems with performance appraisals are frequently seen.
So how do we fix these problems?
This is the main reason we started achievedly. Whilst an app or piece of software cannot replace a line manager or company culture, we have tried to eliminate most if not all of the above issues. By providing employees with regular feedback, any feedback they receive isn’t delayed by up to 12 months. It is immediate. The achievedly app allows employees to record their work or todo lists and lets managers and colleagues provide feedback. This in turn updates the project management and hr systems. So from a simple todo list, employees, managers, colleagues and HR are all kept up to date.
If you would like to add some of your pet peeves to this list, feel free to leave a comment below.