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Appraisal apathy


I've been asked to meet with a group of admin staff who are all somewhat disenchanted with the appraisal process and refuse to engage with it. The line manager is exasperated and hoping I can generate some enthusiasm and help them understand some of the potential benefits, such as identifying development opportunities and agreeing challenging objectives.

Any ideas?
L Cole

11 Responses

  1. Find out why…
    Simply ask them why they do not wish to participate.

    Listen to them and see if they have a point.

    Appraisals in the past may have been badly done, they may fear the consenquences of a bad appraisal in terms of pay rises etc. and so on.

    Then address their concerns and make the process transparent so they can see this happening.

    Then ask them what they would like out of appraisals and try and incorporate this too.

    And finally agree to review the process every time with them.

    That might work…

  2. appraisal shouldn’t stand alone
    I agree with Nik about asking why because I’d be prepared to bet money that in the past the appraisal has been a once a year nightmare.
    If all can see that the annual appraisal is merely the final formalisation of a process and the kick off of another then we are talking about performance management as a day to day activity….now that is a subject they probably can get a bit more enthused about!

  3. Performance Appraisal? or Criticism.
    People dislike things that cause them pain.

    It is a reaction that was built into our caveman software to make us avoid the things that threaten our existence.

    If people are avoiding peformance appraisals it might be a good idea to stop blaming them for their refusal and start to examine the performance appraisal process to find out what it is about it that is causing them pain.

    Why should they enjoy sitting in front of someone who gleefully picks on every opportunity that is presented to them to criticise and belittle then set completely impossible targets for the next year that the individual has no option except to agree to.

    To give them the opportunity to engage, ask them what they want from the process, then give it to them.

    If you find yourself making reasons why you can’t give them what they want then you have made no progress.

    Peter A Hunter

  4. Appraisal apathy

    I have recently rolled out training on this within my organisation and there was a lot of criticism for this process. However, some of the problems were related to how the appraisal was conducted and where it was conducted.

    If you wish to contact me offline I will gladly give you some materials and exercises used that may be of help to you.

    Yours in Training

    Anne Marie

  5. appraisal blues
    If people are disenchanted, they probably have a reason, as already suggested.

    In all the work I’ve done involving appraisals, there haas always been a lot of resistance or just plain ignoring the whole process.

    My feeling is that it’s the pre-appraisal activity that is important. I designed a little programme once for people to work through (on the computer, by themselves) prior to an appraisal. It was user-friendly, related to their actual work. The idea was to really at base have them appraising themselves in a structured way, with good support. That approach works for about 85% (guessing) of people, and doesnt hit the truly cynical or truly disaffected.

    I’ll see if I can find the demo. Even if I can’t, I think the challenge of working out “How’ve I done, this year/6 months?” in a structured way is a good first step.

    At the same time, the general resistance to, or avoiding of, or bad delivery of, appraisals in so many organisations should be telling us something that’s important.

  6. Profiling Success
    I work with lots of businesses who use Discus behavioural profiling when they perform appraisals. This enables line managers to better understand what drives and motivates team members. If you understand what motivates them then you can get the best from them. From the results in the report, it also produces questions to ask and tells of their likely response.


  7. Who exactly owns the problem here?
    This has got to be the line manager’s problem – or am I missing something? Like the Irish joke about directions ‘I wouldn’t start from here’ it sounds as though Mr Exasperated wants you to bail him out for his communication failure and he is the one who needs the training. Alas ’twas ever thus…..

  8. Appraisal success depends on quality of the day-to-day managemen
    The starting point is surely to assume they are apathetic about the appraisal process with good reason.

    Low appetite for appraisals often occurs where the quality of the day-to-day management relationship is weak. It’s probably therefore worth exploring with the staff what concretely would need to be different in order for them to be convinced that the appraisal process was worth engaging with. And then to be genuinely prepared to receive their feedback … and then to act on it!

    There are no shortcuts!

  9. Start at the top!
    Perhaps you ought to have some input in the exasperated manager’s appraisal. It seems that all too often apprasial is seen as this ‘half day character assassiantion’. The great challenge is to make sure that nothing comes as a surprise during the event and to make sure that both sides know this is essential going forward. If the manager thinks that the admins are poor at their job or great at what they do, I expect that the admins only find out during the appraisal. Likewise, the staff can’t be allowed to store feelings and moods just to vent then at appraisal time as a defence. Appraisal then becomes what it’s supposed to be, a brief summary of what’s gone on before and an opportunity to plan and agree on the future.

  10. No Surprises
    I agree with most of what has been written below. I would also add, it should ideally be a two way process with preparation and input on both sides. If the manager and employee are communicating properly throughout the year, it should contain no real surprises. In addition expectation should be managed, under promise over deliver, where this does not happen people are naturally resistant and sceptical in subsequent reviews.

  11. WIFM
    Apathy can stem from the person not knowing or understanding “what’s in it for me”. If it is not their first appraisal, then their apathy probably shows they found nothing in it for them. It could also change from apathy to apprehension for the next time if it is not done with great care.

    I personally have had the experience of my 6 monthly review being the only time my manager talks to me!

    I think most employees just see it as a company process they have to comply with, and if the apraiser sees it the same way then you are unlikely to be successful.

    Success must come from everyone having a full understanding of the process outcome including the “Whats in it for me”.
    Regards Steven


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