Vincy Workplace
October 28, 2016
10 reasons why your performance appraisal might be useless

Last week’s article on performance appraisal was met with feedback that many managers do not use the performance appraisal tool effectively. In fact, there is a growing sentiment that not only is the tool used ineffectively, but it is often used as a form of punishment and ultimately provides fuel for a hostile, toxic work environment. Managers should be focused on managing the performance of their team throughout the year, instead of rushing to do end-of-year reviews. Are your performance appraisals useless?{{more}}

Here are 10 reasons why your current process might be of little or no value.

1. Emphasis is on the mistakes and the past.

Unfortunately, there are managers who view the appraisal process as an opportunity to only recap everything an employee has gotten wrong throughout the year. This is incredibly demotivating and hampers morale, as well as trust in that relationship. Focusing on the past leaves no room for forward thinking and growth, which is the intent of an appraisal.

2. Appraisal is full of surprises.

An employee should not be surprised by what is written on their appraisal if the manager has done a great job communicating throughout the year. If surprises exist, that is an indication that the manager/employee relationship is damaged and ineffective. Errors are inevitable, but the manager should immediately identify the error and help to design a plan of action that helps the employee correct the mistake and keep growing. In addition, when an employee does well, that also should be immediately acknowledged, documented, and celebrated.

3. No regular check-in.

Many performance appraisals only see the light of day when it’s time to write a new one for the upcoming year. If that is how your team operates, it is a complete waste of time. The appraisal should be a living, breathing document that is used as a roadmap throughout the year. Monthly and quarterly reviews with adjustments will increase the probability of the employee meeting and even exceeding the expectations that were set.

4. One-way conversations.

If an employee is simply sitting and listening to the manager during a performance appraisal or given a report to read, that is a sure sign the process is deeply flawed. This should be a two-way conversation, where the employee and manager are both engaged. The manager and employee should be reviewing progress, examining the best way going forward, celebrating milestones, and setting new goals together. As mentioned earlier, it’s an ongoing conversation, not an end-of-year marathon to talk and fill out paperwork.

5. No preparation for advancement.

An effective manager should know that their primary job is to provide the environment where each employee can reach their peak performance and then move on, whether that is a vertical or lateral move. Even when the organization is flat, advancement can still be made by varying projects and learning new roles and skills sets.

6. Setting goals that are not SMART.

Effective evaluation of an employee’s progress depends on the quality of the goals set. All goals must be measurable and adhere to the SMART standards of being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-specific.

7. Manager’s unconscious bias.

Managers are not perfect and even the best-intentioned manager has unconscious bias. The bias could be based on an employee’s personal style, preferences, gender, age, accomplishments, race, ethnicity, etc. It’s also not unusual for managers to carry a chip on their shoulder, caused by an incident going back months. When these behaviours are present, a successful appraisal is impossible.

8. Avoiding negative feedback.

Some managers cower at the thought of having to deliver negative feedback, especially to employees who may have a reputation of being difficult. They might tiptoe around the real issues and in essence deliver a weak appraisal with no value by only highlighting what worked well.

9. Confusing performance and attitude.

There are employees who are great talkers, enthusiastic, and friendly around the office, but are poor performers. There are also employees who are exceptional performers, but lack the social skills or choose not to be overly enthusiastic because that’s their personality style. They may also consciously choose to be less engaged socially due to the work environment. Managers need to be clear on what they are measuring: Is it performance or attitude?

10. Manager was never trained.

No one was born with excellent managerial skills, and even if you have managed people for many years, that is not an indication that you are a competent manager or that you know how to execute an effective performance evaluation. Companies should hold educational sessions that teach managers how to review an employee’s performance in a fair manner and set them up for future success.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT

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