The Purpose of the Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisals like lots of management tools, can be misused.

HR managers usually say it’s their most important device for reviewing team members.

Our experience in running our Appraisal Skills Training Workshops is that, if not used properly often managers, supervisors, as well as employees hate the thought of them.
Their Internal HR consultants try really hard to encourage their completion and managers use their creativity to delay the process.
It’s seen by all as an uncomfortable practice to carry out.
The manager and the employee can sometimes feel on different “sides”.
Appraisals can sometimes wrongly be seen as determining pay increases and in rare cases who is made redundant and who gets promoted.
Commonly they focus on what people have done wrong.

We think the real point of performance appraisals are generally to

  •  Give feedback on performance to employees
  • Facilitate communication between employee and manager
  • Identify employee learning and development needs
  • Document and explain any criteria used to allocate organisations rewards
  • Used as the basis for personnel decisions: salary increases, promotions, re-assignments, succession planningetc
  • Provide the opportunity for organisation diagnosis and development
  • Validate recruitment selection techniques and human resource policies

The most important purpose or goal of the appraisal is to improve performance in the future for both employees and team leaders.

Managers can get valuable information to help them make their jobs more productive.

Through feedback given in performance appraisals managers can identify problems that interfere with everyone’s performance and take steps to rectify them.

We suggest that if there is a shift from blaming to identifying barriers to performance the fear associated with appraisals can disappear.

When managers move have to a more cooperative and learning dialogue, appraisals become more comfortable and effective.

This puts the manager and employee on the same side, and working towards the same goals, improving together.

While managers make an effort to be as objective as possible, there are always concerns about accuracy.

When you’re evaluating your staff it’s wise to be aware of factors that may affect your assessments.

Here are a few factors of which you should be aware
We suggest you take a look and just ask yourself “Are my appriasals free from these biases”


Generalising is the tendency to rate someone high or low in all categories, based on their performance in some areas.
This does not help develop employees because the appraisal is less than specific in areas that do need development.

Different Standards of Evaluation

Evaluation terms such as fair, good, v.good, excellent, or PRB1 PRB2 etc, are commonly used in performance appraisals.
Managers should however be aware that the meaning of these words will differ from person to person.
There needs to be an additional process which tries to get all the managers “on the same page” when defining performance.

Lenient Bias

Expect this when a manager has not been shown the Normal standards of performance (see above)
and  they are lenient and will tend to get defensive when discussed.
It’s ok they don’t know the standards that’s the problem not their judgement.
Question is … Could this be you?

Is it external factors more than employee performance?

Blame can be given  to the employee when the root cause was external.
Credit can be given too. Think recessions and upturns??

Is it the system / processes or the person?

Performance is a function of both the individual and the system he or she works in.
If both factors are not taken into account, it will be increasingly difficult to improve on performance.

Performance appraisals are a necessary tool in ensuring development.
If conducted fairly and appropriately the information gathered can be used to vastly improve the performance of the entire team

If you need assistance… Why  not take a  look at our Appraisal Skills Workshop

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