appraise [15th century. Alteration of apprize, after praise]
“But 37% of staff thought their annual appraisal was a waste of time” from CIPD report on PwC Performance Management Research, 30 July 2015
These days doing the annual appraisal is pretty widely criticised and more and more condemned outright. But, whether you like it or not, it is still with us in many organisations and will remain for some time to come.
Much of the criticism is levied at poor practice. For there are those appraisers who forget the origin of the word, embarking solely upon a ruthless dissection of just what is wrong with the individuals they assess. If they ever get around to conducting them, there are others who just treat the process as an annoying, time-consuming distraction from “real work”. Either way, the result can be dysfunctional to job, personal improvement, and motivation.
From the archive of “appraisal systems we have known (but not loved)”, here are three observations to help them go better…assuming they are still with you.
Not scoring the ‘own goal’ Let’s start with a modest assertion of opinion. Any appraisal system that has a detailed method of scoring people performance (one to 5, one to 10, one to 100 etc.) is probably doomed to failure. No doubt someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to put numbers on it, to make this touchy-feely stuff more concrete, to have a ‘real’ basis for salary or bonus awards etc. In practice, all it does is highlight the essential subjectivity of people assessing other people – in a way that can be fundamentally divisive (“Why did she get 3.5 and I only got 3? I’m much better than her at it!”).
No specifics Nowadays, firms have their competency frameworks that appear to highlight the issues to be covered; except that participants can then fall prey to the phenomenon known as Woolly Aims. To succeed, any development aim must at least be specific and measurable enough. It’s the difference between these two:
“Attend more seminars and networking events”
“Attend at least six networking events over the next six months to generate at least nine new meaningful contacts”
Remember…it’s apprize It is what happens after praise that is as important as the appraisal itself – maybe more so. Too many appraisers can treat appraisals like the drawing up of business or marketing plans – once a year phenomena that are left to gather dust until the ‘season’ comes round again. Even if your system contains review stages built in, they are ignored. The best appraisers can see (or are shown!) the consequences of their inaction in this respect, and build in an interest in their staff and what specific aims they have been set on a frequent, regular basis.
James Newberry is a coach and trainer who helps professionals lead and manage better and do more business. Have a look at http://www.peoplescope.com to know more.