Why employee performance appraisals are ineffective, sometimes?

One of my HR Community friends, Basheer wrote to me:

> Dear Mr. Gireesh Sharma,Paper Based Appraisals
> When most people consider traditional performance appraisals a time consuming and expensive task, I also believe they are ineffective in the present work culture of organizations.
> I would like to hear from you the better ways to get the performance appraisals done effectively ,successfully and quickly. Or is there a way out of performance appraisals?

> Regards.
> A.A Basheer

Basheer’s concern was to a large extent genuine. I would like to share with you what I replied to him:

Dear Mr. Basheer,

Thanks for writing.

I (to some extent) agree with your thought that “most people consider traditional performance appraisals a time consuming and expensive task“. Is there a better way to do it? Yes it is!

There is an old Kaizan saying “You can improve only what you can measure“. Thus measuring (or knowing) where you are and where you want to head, is as important as actually working to improve the things. Performance Appraisals in all its forms are indeed measurement of performance. If you are looking for an alternative, I seriously do not know an alternative to performance appraisals, because it is the only known way (as of now) for measuring employee performance. Whatever way you measure employee performance, it will still be called an employee performance appraisal. But I would surely share my thought on the challenges /solutions for traditional paper-based (or Excel based) employee performance appraisal process.

Some thoughts on “What frustrates employees in a traditional Performance Appraisal process” and how to weed them out:

1. Lack of clarity about the purpose of appraisal like how it will help them improve their job. Many employees are not even aware that a good or bad appraisal can impact their career prospects.

2. Lack of faith in the appraisal process: Employees think that their manager doesn’t write appraisals based on employee’s performance but bias their decisions based on their personal relations with employees.

3. The time consuming process: The highly complex questions which they have no answers to or highly complex competencies which they have never heard of confuse them. Thus employees think that appraisal is a disturbance to their normal work.

4. Difficulty in writing appraisals: Many employees have poor language skills and they are unable to communicate their performance in right language and support with data. This difficulty is further increased when they find extremely difficult questions/ terminology in the appraisal.

5. The lack of feedback after the appraisal: Many companies do not provide feedback to employees on their performance. In a paper based appraisal process the appraisal usually find its place in HR closets!

Problems are well said, but what about the solutions. Here are 5 tips that I think can weed out ineffectiveness of an employee performance appraisal process.

1. HR should clearly define the purpose of appraisals to employees and to managers. This should be the first page of the appraisal form and should also form the part of the appraisal message/ emails sent to employees. Like First page of EmpXtrack Performance Appraisal is a “Main Form”. This form organization’s policy on Appraisals.

EmpXtrack Employee Appraisal Form

2. Employees should be involved in appraisal process. One of my client organization has following work flow for employee appraisals:

  • Employee do Self Appraisal —-> Sends to Manager
  • Manager Fills Employee’s Appraisal —-> Sends to Reviewer
  • Reviewer reviews Self Appraisal —–> Sends to Employee for Acceptance.
  • Employee Accepts/ Reject the Appraisal

This process ensures that no appraisals are finished without employee’s acceptance and confirmation. Once it happens, employees know that they have a larger control on their appraisal and this enhance self-confidence.

3. It is better to switch to web-based employee appraisal process. It saves lots of time, money and efforts.

4. Train employees on writing appraisals: Another key to make employee appraisals effective is to provide training to employees on appraisal writing skills. Although you have switched over to web based employee appraisal, there is enough help and training included in the software itself.

5. Provide effective feedback: After an appraisal is done, let employees have a copy of the appraisal for their reference. Also let them know how it impacted their salary, compensation and career. Next time they will ensure that their performance appraisal scores better.

From my experience, I can say that if manager genuinely praise/criticize an employee and does performance appraisal honestly and accurately, he will not only gain respect but also motivate his/her entire team to work harder and smarter.

Thanks and regards!


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