No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Why Managers Hate Performance Appraisal Time


What would your managers choose if given the choice of either a root canal at the dentist or evaluating an employee's performance? I suspect many would jump at the opportunity to face the drill rather than the forms that make up most employee-appraisal systems today. At least the pain at the dentist is temporary; there's a good chance an evaluation will result in lasting pain for everyone involved. Why is that the case? Performance-management systems are supposed to help managers do their jobs. An effective evaluation should give the employee a clear set of goals on how to improve. Rather than run from appraisals, managers should see them as a tool for doing their jobs better. And, for the entire organization, performance management should align everyone toward the same goals. Instead, the annual evaluation is too often a morale-sapping source of conflict and confusion - something to be avoided until absolutely necessary and forgotten as soon as possible. Let's take a look at some of the reasons performance-management systems fail: - TUG OF WAR: Too often, the human-resources department is the driver of the employee-appraisal process. HR officials cook up the process, design the forms and send out reminders to have everything completed by a certain time. On the receiving end are managers who have no input in the process, the forms or the deadlines. The result: No buy-in. Managers procrastinate and resist at every opportunity, and the cycle of evaluating employees becomes a massive game of psychological tug-of-war between HR and everyone else at the company. - FOCUS ON FORMS: Managers often feel that the point is the focus on process. It's not. Forms are supposed to be a tool for extracting the real value of evaluations: setting goals, providing employee feedback and developing or guiding talent. If your organization's forms do not provide this value, fix them. Otherwise, managers will continue to run away from appraisals rather than embrace the opportunities they should provide. - DON'T FORGET THE TEAM: Evaluations too often focus only on individual performance while ignoring the team. The legendary management expert W. Edwards Deming warned that by concentrating too much on individual performance, managers often fail to see systemic problems. As a result, even the most talented and committed employees are prevented from doing an excellent job. That said, an appraisal system that evaluates more than just individuals can turn the spotlight back on the manager. Some may resist because it might highlight their own shortcomings and could result in a lot of hard work. - MANAGER MISFIRES: Not everyone is cut out to be a manager. Those who are failing avoid engaging their direct reports to have meaningful conversations about setting goals, performance and development. Rather, failing managers ignore the problem or palm off the responsibility to the HR department. In these cases, senior managers need to take action. Give underperforming managers a deadline of, perhaps, six months to improve. Outline exactly what's expected of them and how you will measure success. Replace them if they continue to fail. This will not be an easy or painless process, and it will tap all the leadership skills of senior managers. There are many reasons why employee appraisals are often disdained by so many. By addressing these points, you can make your performance-management system more effective and less like a mountain of paperwork foisted by the human-resources department on unwilling managers. Next time, I'll take a closer look at the role numbers play - and shouldn't play - in managing performance.

2 Responses

  1. Leading Performance

    Hi Leslie, thanks for your thought-provoking article. Appraisals are an important way of helping people to develop themselves and their career. Unfortunately, it is still sometimes our experience that the annual appraisal process is the only performance conversation that managers have with their people. No wonder they’re so loaded with emotion!

    A more natural and effective approach is to make performance management part of the everyday behaviour of the manager. Performance is one of the most important ‘Leadership Conversations’  that we can have. Frequently highlighting where the person fits in the big picture, what’s going well, what needs to be achieved, where improvements are necessary & of course what options are available to make any changes happen, means that there will never be a surprise come appraisal time. Business is just too impatient to wait a year, or even six months for some constructive feedback. My colleague Colin Reeve, has been writing in Training Zone recently about the importance of Leadership Conversations. Here’ a link if you’d like to know more.

    Kind Regards,  Mark

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!