The aim of conducting performance appraisals is to celebrate work achievements and give development pointers to employees based on work done in a particular year. This is to ensure employees are contributing positively to the organisation’s bottom-line, growing incompetence and ultimately positioning the organisation to meet its set objectives.
It is more important than ever in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world that we develop an agile, performance-driven workforce. For this to happen, organisations need to ensure employees take ownership of their delivery with the suitable structures put in place by management to support goals. One of such structure is the performance management process, in which appraisal sessions are a key output.
From our experience in engaging with various organisations, we have outlined three common reasons employees dread performance appraisals:
When employees are not sure of the objectivity of the outcome of the performance appraisal discussion:
Everyone likes to be in control of their circumstances as much as possible. However, performance appraisals tend to create the opposite effect. The best way to prevent this feeling of dread is for managers to continuously engage with employees and give feedback/development pointers as often as possible. Appraisers are up to date with their employee’s work progress, and the appraisees often can seek feedback or solicit support. This way, formal appraisals are merely an official review of all discussed and achieved during the year, which will not surprise both manager and employee.
Employees are self-conscious about receiving negative feedback:
Most people do not react well to receiving negative feedback. It usually leads to a defensive front by the receiver, and in turn, whatever feedback or development pointer is lost in transmission. One way of tackling this potential obstacle is to allow employees to lead performance discussions.
By leading the discussions, employees can highlight their achievements and discuss the issues faced on tasks assigned throughout the year, giving them ownership of the process. Feedback from the manager is thus a discussion based on the points highlighted, either celebrating successes or giving development pointers how issues that came up can be dealt with differently. In some instances, the problem is that managers shy away from providing feedback to their subordinates. From a Clear Company survey, 32% of employees say they have to wait more than three months to receive feedback from their managers. Feedback is about providing information so behaviours can be changed. By giving specific feedback on work behaviour, you are more likely to see the employee’s work change. Waiting for the annual employee performance review might late.
Employees do not believe there is genuine interest in their development:
Even though employees must take ownership of their development, it is expedient that the performance discussions end with clear and concise developmental next steps. What commonly occurs, however, is that, due to the busy schedule of managers during the year, they fail to keep up their end of the bargain to follow up and provide the support promised. This leads to employees feeling disillusioned about the performance appraisal process.
A critical step for the successful deployment of performance appraisals is giving ownership of the process to employees. Allow them to evaluate their performance first, while managers provide inputs and pointers. It is also key to equip managers with the essential tools to manage the appraisal discussion.
Organisations who wish to harness the benefits of an agile, high-performance workforce must also make the necessary investments in the managers to ensure they are equipped to drive performance within the workforce.