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Ten reasons not to bother with the performance appraisal process

Posted by Simon Thiessen on 04-Jan-2016 09:00:00

staff_resistance_to_employee_appraisalsYou hate them, they hate them - why do them?

Honestly - how much do you look forward to doing annual performance reviews with your team? Do you even do them?

It’s not just functional managers that dislike and resist doing performance appraisals. In a 2010 study called The State of Performance Management, Sibson Consulting found that 58 percent of HR managers dislike their own review systems.

If HR managers don’t like them, what hope do the rest of us have?

Why you do them = how you do them

The way you approach a performance appraisal – and, by extension, how effective they are - is dependent on why you do them. If you do them for positive reasons, you will approach them with a developmental mindset. However, if they are all about compliance with a system, they will be done very differently.

Before we get into the reasons not to do them, let’s be clear. When they are done well, a performance appraisal is highly valuable for the employee, the manager and the organisation.

However, too often they are not done well and they are done for the wrong reasons. 

These reasons may apply to a specific manager or they may apply to the more global attitude and approach to appraisals within an organisation.

How you do them = whether they are worth doing

Online salary bench marker,, found that 90 percent of performance appraisal processes are inadequate.

This inadequacy may be caused by many factors, such as a failure to actually follow through on the outcomes of appraisals. However, our observation in the organisations we work with is that many of the shortcomings are to do with bad execution. Just a few examples are:

  • Poor timing and physical setting
  • No planning
  • Lack of skills and training
  • Narrow perception of the reasons for performance reviews
  • One way discussions

Want a weekly update with free  resources and our best articles?  Subscribe here If reviews are time consuming, disruptive, create tensions in the workplace AND are mainly inadequate, why do them?

Here are ten reasons not to bother with reviews! (Bearing in mind that we really think you should be doing appraisals as long as you do them properly).

1. So you can tick them off the task list

If this is your motivation, tick the task list but don’t bother doing them. Performance reviews shouldn’t just be another drain on your time. They should be opportunities to develop your people – and they should be part of an overall process rather than a one off job that can be ticked off for another year.

2. Because your boss or company insists you do them

To be effective, reviews need to be something you see value in and are committed to doing well. Annual reviews have the potential to be the platform for staff development and growth – which leads to improved performance.

If reviews feel like a waste of time, it’s likely to be related to way they are being done.

3. Because your people want them

No they don’t. Especially if you don’t want to do them. Most employees dread their performance appraisal – or are completely indifferent to it.

The only time your people want performance reviews is when they are done well as part of a broader developmental process.

4. Because you need to give feedback to your people

Great. But not if this is the only time all year that they will get feedback. What about the other 364 days – or at least the other 230 days you spend at work.

Giving – and receiving feedback should be a daily not an annual occurrence.

performance_appraisals_-_not_about_covering_backside5. To cover your backside

There was a time when doing the review was enough to demonstrate that you were serious about the future and the development of your people. Not anymore.

Genuinely growing your people is a much more proactive and ongoing process. If you have an issue that may require some backside covering, you should be having regular discussions and making notes about those discussions.

6. Because it is how you review salaries

If it all comes down to this one moment in the year, no wonder most people dread their performance review. At most the review should be confirmation of discussions that have been occurring in the preceding twelve months.

7. Because you have a serious issue to discuss with them

Reviews aren’t a silver bullet that will create a team of model employees for the next twelve months. The annual review (or ideally quarterly or semi-annual review) should be a holistic look at the preceding period and a discussion about the coming period.

It should not be focused on one issue – and a big issue should have been addressed at the time it occurred rather than being ‘saved up’ for the review.

8. Because you want to be seen as the sort of manager who is in touch with their people

Having a genuine two way appraisal will be a minor step to you be seen as an ‘in touch’ manager.

Having regular less formal interactions throughout the whole year will be much more effective – for example, you could implement our one coffee a day policy.

9. Because you have information and announcements to make

Not the time. Not the place. The review should be about you listening as much (and possibly more) than you talk.

10. Because it gives your people a chance for one-on-one time with you

You are in danger of being a seagull manager. There is no way this is going to be a comfortable, open and honest discussion if it is the only time you interact one-on-one. Again, take a look at our suggestions on one coffee a day.

In future articles, we will explore some strategies, templates and questions you can use during your employee appraisals. Make sure you subscribe for updates so you know when those articles are available.

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photo credit: sean dreilinger via photopin cc photo credit: geishaboy500 via photopin cc

Topics: Leadership