Probably the most misused and abused and
disused management tool in history is the
performance appraisal. It's the strangest
thing. Ask any manager or human resources
person whether they think performance
appraisal is an important thing to do, they
are almost unanymous. "Of course it is", is
the common response. If you ask why it's
important, they will tell you and tell you
and tell you.
The odd thing is that
they often don't get done, and managers,
supervisors and employees hate the darned
things. Human resource professionals spend a
lot of time whipping people into doing them,
while managers look for a variety of reasons
to delay and delay. Why is that?
It's uncomfortable to do
performance appraisals. But why is it
uncomfortable? Because people undertake them
for the wrong reasons and wrong perspective,
which ends up putting the manager and the
employee on different "sides". Appraisals
are used for determining pay increases, who
gets let go, who gets promoted. Often they
are used to focus on what people have done
So what is the point of
performance appraisals? Here's a starting
point that actually works. The most
important purpose or goal of the appraisal
is to improve performance in the future...and
not just for the employee. Managers can get
valuable information from employees to help
them make employee's jobs more productive.
Work units and organizations can identify
problems that interfere with everyone's
If we shift from affixing
blame, to identifying barriers to
performance we begin to remove the fear and
dread people have about these "appraisals".
When we focus on the present and the future,
we change our focus to what's been to what
can be better tomorrow.
An appraisal that works
involves a number of things, but first and
foremost is the process of identifying what
has gotten in the way of better performance
(regardless of the level of performance),
and how manager and employee can work
together in the future, to improve it. It's
really that simple.
When managers put away
the "blaming stick" in appraisals and move
to a cooperative, dialogue approach, the
whole process can become more comfortable
and effective. Because, it puts the manager
and employee on the same side, and working
towards the same goals, getting better and
Sure, we do use
appraisals for a number of reasons but if we
are going to get real value out of the time
and energy we put into them, we have to look
at the process in a more constructive way.
And, bottom line, that's making performance
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