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.
I’ve worked in Human Resources for over 20 years.
I hate appraisals.
If they don’t motivate or engage people what’s the point. I’d ban them from all organisations if I could.
As you can imagine working in HR my personal experiences of appraisals have all been really positive. Of course not. We’re the ‘owners’ of the appraisal process and therefore on a mission to test it and break it; that’s the bit we do very well.
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 but you’re not supposed to take that 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.
To find out what your people think, how to improve communication and achieve higher levels of engagement in your workplace then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to talk with you.