Mistakes That Can Derail Performance Appraisals

The performance appraisal – completely misunderstood by many managers and employers, potentially dreaded by employees, and wholly undervalued for the benefits it can provide.

The performance appraisal all too often becomes one of those obligatory tasks completed once a year as nothing much more than an afterthought.

But have you ever considered the value you can derive from putting an emphasis on performance appraisals and building a strategy around them?

Before moving onto how to create great performance appraisal strategies, take a look at this list and see if you’re making any of these mistakes. If you are, don’t worry—you’re not alone. This list is all too common in organizations large and small.

  1. A lack of measurable standards. Performance appraisals shouldn’t be vague or abstract—there needs to be consistent and measurable standards in place that can be used as metrics to guide future employee behavior. These standards and metrics are also important in terms of determining promotions and raises within an organization and identifying talent gaps that may exist.
  2. Employees often feel blindsided when they’re fired, because they’ve received years of consistently positive performance reviews. Performance reviews aren’t about feelings—they should be a vital part of a talent management strategy that lets not only employers know how everyone is doing, but also should give employees an accurate picture of where they stand.
  3. On the other side of the spectrum from the manager who just wants to be seen as the good guy during performance appraisals is the manager or human resources professional who gets too personal. Performance appraisals can become a chance to air grievances or personal things a manager may find irksome, and this is not only unprofessional but also counterproductive. This isn’t going to provide any true guidance for employees and it’s going to lead to a disgruntled workforce and a toxic corporate culture.
  4. Only focusing on recently occurring performance. Often, employees plan for the time leading up to their performance appraisal and there may be a shift in their behaviors in anticipation, and it often works because managers tend to remember only the most recent things that take place. Performance appraisals may only provide a picture of a brief snapshot of time, particularly when they’re only happening once a year. It’s really not reflective of a more comprehensive picture of the employees’ overall performance, so it loses a lot of value in that sense.
  5. Lack of follow-up. Many of us have been there – regardless whether we’ve been the person in charge of conducting the performance appraisal or we’ve been on the other side of receiving an evaluation. The appraisal occurs, and even if it has some good feedback it then seems to disappear into the black hole of the human resources file cabinet. Once that happens and there’s no follow-up on the appraisal, there’s no real reason in having done it at all. Employees aren’t held accountable to making the necessary changes and employers have no real way of tracking performance and improvements, so there’s no clear methodology for issuing pay raises and promoting internally.
  6. No conversation. Performance appraisals can become a one-sided venture, particularly when managers are in a time crunch. Rather than framing it around a conversation with an employee, they’re simply completed in a standard way and then given to the employee. There may be confusion or a lack of clarity, or an employee may not feel as if they’re being portrayed accurately. The result is often frustration on the part of employees and that can lead to a lack of job satisfaction and a decline in engagement.
  7. Putting appraisals on the back burner. You want your employees’ performance to be a top priority—after all talent management strategy and performance is absolutely pivotal to company performance. However, is this really the message you’re demonstrating when you don’t put a priority on performance appraisals? If you wait too long to complete them or do them hastily, how are you employees supposed to see their own performance as important?

What are some of the top mistakes you see when it comes to performance appraisals?

Continue reading to find out how you can remedy your performance appraisal mistakes, with our list of tips.

October 23, 2014   Updated :March 25, 2015   annual performance reviews, performance appraisals   

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