The Annual Performance Appraisal Ritual

Do Performance Evaluations Matter?

In most organizations, performance evaluations are an annual ritual that managers and their direct reports go through uncomfortably and then take a sigh of relief once they are complete.
Most managers and employees equally dread the process of annual performance appraisal. The reason isn’t because they don’t see the need for performance assessment and evaluation, but because hardly anything good comes out of it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, several organizations take it seriously and make it a worthwhile exercise but it is not true across the board. So, what can you do to make it a beneficial exercise not just for the employees but also for the organization?

Performance Appraisals should not be an annual ritual

Make performance appraisals more of an informal check in throughout the year. For example, you can have short monthly / quarterly appraisals that not only assess previous month or quarter but also set direction for the next month or quarter. When conducted frequently, both managers and employees will be able to easily recall both accomplishments and issues from not so distant past and will be able to quickly make the course correction.

Performance Appraisals should be candid

Most managers and employees go through the exercise simply to satisfy human resource department. They are afraid to bring up issues / concerns for the fear of making the other uncomfortable. Unless the manager is willing to offer an honest, candid and fair assessment, how can they expect their employees to learn and grow? The assessment should be fair, honest and constructive.

Manager’s concerns and praises should be documented

When a manager sits down with their direct report for a performance review, they should have the specific examples, backed by the date and time. Whether it is a concern or an issue or a milestone, document both and discuss them during the performance evaluation process. The feedback should not only focus on the negative but also on the positive. Remember, good leaders are effusive on praising their employees but also equally comfortable in bringing up the concerns.

Allow Employees to explain and offer feedback

Generally, it’s the managers evaluating the employees; the managers should be open to letting their employees explain the concerns and intently listen to them. Additionally, managers should be open to, indeed actively solicit feedback from their employees about themselves, their management style and the steps they should take to help the employees do the best job they possibly can.

Remember you or your organization hired your direct reports for a reason. It is up to you to ensure they maintain the same level of enthusiasm and a willingness to walk through the wall for you as they did on day one. Performance appraisals are but one way to achieve that if done correctly. They are also a way to demotivate the employees and create a mediocre, disgruntled workforce. How you approach the performance evaluation process will determine the outcome.

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