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Appraisals Fail to Deliver


Despite an impressive belief in the appraisal system most managers say they are disappointed and concerned about their delivery.

A large majority (90.9%) consider appraisals to be an essential management tool yet despite their loyal following four in ten say that they are often conducted badly while 37% say that there is too much emphasis on paperwork.

According to the findings by analysts IRS, part of the problem is lack of management commitment to the system and inadequate training.

Just over half of the 145 respondents consulted with managers regarding the appraisal system while just a quarter conferred with staff before introducing one.

Most organisations agreed that identifying training and development needs, aligning individual and organisational objectives, and evaluating performance were the main reasons for appraisals.

Nevertheless, just over a third (34.9%) reported that their appraisal systems worked well or very well. Slightly more were neutral on whether or not appraisals achieved their aims and almost one quarter (23.4%) believed their appraisal system had failed in some way.

IRS Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail said:

"Our latest survey shows that UK employers still have faith in the performance review tradition and believe in its intrinsic value to the organisation. The practice is widespread, although it is constantly being adapted to suit changing needs.

"At the same time, there is substantial evidence that, in many cases, appraisal systems are not delivering what employers expect. Some hard questions may have to be asked, and appraisal systems that fail to support corporate objectives could find themselves facing an uncertain future."

Other key findings include:

  • Of the 154 organisations surveyed, 145 have an appraisal scheme and six plan to introduce one in the near future.

  • Few organisations viewed appraisals as a way of encouraging staff to feel better about their work: 13% of those with appraisals said that staff motivation was a prime objective.

  • Only 12.3% of organisations with appraisals believe they should identify and acknowledge good performance and just 6.2% said that improving productivity is an important outcome.

  • All organisations use a discussion with a line manager for at least some employee groups and 89% of organisations appraise all employees in this way.

  • Less that a quarter (22.6%) use 360-degree appraisals - what Acas describes as "upward appraisal" - and a third of these are public sector employers.


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