As a general rule, managers are apprehensive about having to give performance appraisals to their subordinates. And no wonder. It involves an uncomfortable face-to-face interaction with an employee, who might be performing below his capabilities. In addition, most managers are united in their emphasis that paperwork and standardized forms don’t really give a true picture of an employee’s worth for the simple reason that there isn’t just ONE type of employee in the company.
Why Performance Appraisals Lose Value
Perhaps the biggest reason why performance appraisals lose relevance is because managers are not fully trained and equipped to handle them. In most companies, managers are handed forms, given a couple of basic no brained instructions about how to fill them out and little else. Managers need to be trained in-depth regarding the performance appraisal process, including why it plays such an important role in performance management and the delicate nuances of conducting performance appraisals without insulting or negatively influencing an employee’s overall performance. Issuing ultimatums and deadlines to managers to hand in performance appraisal forms is hardly the way to go about a process that plays such a key role in the development of the company’s human resource pool, arguably its biggest asset.
Another major reason why performance appraisals (which are unique to American business culture) often fail is because of their standardized nature. Any executive who thinks that evaluating a group of people across many departments of the same company, based on the same rating criteria, is a good enough measurement of their prowess, is living in a fool’s paradise. Employees, it has often been noted, perform at different levels depending on the department they are in. A standardized form is, therefore, hardly the way to gauge performance and give recognition.
One more reason performance appraisals fail so miserably is because of the comparing and rating of employees that goes on. If employees pitted against each other and you don’t have a motivated team; you get a bunch of resentful, bitter people who are united in their common dislike of the manager!
How to Better Your Performance Appraisal Process
Luckily, performance appraisals in the new millennium has begun to evolve and move away from the old model which was confrontational and loathed by all. New techniques of performance appraisal focus more on the future and ways to improve on the employee’s performance rather than harping on past mistakes or shortfalls.
In today’s corporate scenario, the appraisal process is more goal oriented and centers on feedback and regular performance review. Whereas in the past, performance appraisals were conducted once a year, the latest methods advocate an ongoing series of face-to-face, discussions between the manager and the employee. This ensures that employee performance remains the focus instead of adopting a criticizing tone as in the past. Companies that want to stay ahead in the 21st century must be able to hold on to their most talented people. This will happen only when managers are trained to honestly evaluate their employees and extract the best characteristics and talents out of them.