Whenever I mention the word appraisal I always get some kind of reaction from whoever I’m talking to. The response may vary from a shake of the head, to a sharp intake of breath or a few ‘well chosen’ words (which cannot be repeated here) but it is invariably negative. I could count on one hand the number of people who have something good to say about them.
If they don’t motivate or engage people what’s the point. I’d ban them from all organisations if I could.
I can think of one job (two excellent and I recognise now, engaging managers Clare & Julie – thanks!) where I experienced positive, constructive and career enhancing appraisals. The rest have been pretty hit and miss.
Compared to other peoples experiences I consider myself fortunate. The greatest crime I experienced was that they either didn’t take place or were completed in 5 minutes as a paper exercise. That said there is the red neck issue that I’m still quite bitter about. Of course I accept some responsibility for that (I mean not having the appraisals) but let’s be honest I didn’t really see the point of pushing for anything more. I sought my guidance and feedback from others.
I know what the problems are (I talk about them in ‘training’ sessions) and commonly it comes down to the fact that
- Because they only take place once or twice a year (some) managers think its OK not to talk with their people at any other point – that’s no feedback for over 5 or 11 months at a time!
- The manager takes the role of assessor and judge too seriously. The definition of appraisal is the act of assessing something or someone and many take that too literally.
- Appraisals are still linked to pay rises and bonus’ and where that’s the case, if you actually manage a two-way discussion, it’s going to be quite narrowly focused and defensive.
- Managers are not honest; they skirt over feedback to avoid potential conflict or what they see as difficult topics of conversation.
- There’s no discussion about the employees needs, interests and aspirations; or that’s all that gets talked about.
You’ll see a theme emerging with these points and surprise it’s related to engagement! Employee engagement isn’t rocket science and when you’re talking appraisals it’s simply about creating regular two-way dialogue, that meets the needs and interests of both parties; it’s about working relationships based on trust and honesty and aligning what you do (as an individual manager) with what you say (as an organisation in everything from your values to your policies).
If you want to engage your people ditch the appraisal. Definitely dump the name.
Don’t even have a ‘review’. Just have an honest two-way conversation.
I first wrote this blog nearly three years ago but I’m not going to apologise for reposting it as I’m still saying the same things today – old habits die hard. We are making progress though for instance in July this year Accenture announced they were scrapping appraisals read article here If you’re making changes to your ‘appraisal’ please let me know I’d love to hear about it.