Performance Appraisal What IS The Point? From Blaming To Better Performance
Probably the most misused and abused and disused management tool in history is the performance appraisal. It's the strangest thing. Ask managers or human resources staff whether they think performance appraisal is an important thing to do, and you'll find they usually agree. "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. But they don't tell you the right thing!
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, and who gets promoted. Often they are used to focus on what people have done wrong.
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 work.
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 tomorrw.
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 better.
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 better.
(c) 2005, Robert Bacal, Bacal & Associates. You are welcome to "reprint" this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" info at the end) all links are made live, and this copyright notice and indication of authorship are included.
Robert Bacal is a noted performance management author, consultant and trainer, and is the author of a number of books published by McGraw-Hill including Performance Management - A Briefcase Book, Manager's Guide to Performance Reviews, Perfect Phrases For Setting Performance Goals, and the best seller, Perfect Phrases For Performance Reviews. For more free information and help with performance management, reviews, and appraisals, visit the Performance Management & Appraisal Help Center at http://performance-appraisals.org
In addition to over 800 articles on performance related subjects, you will find tools to help with diagnosing performance, using progressive discipline, and setting objectives at http://performance-appraisals.org/learnto .
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