No Routine Annual Performance Appraisals

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No Routine Annual Performance Appraisals
Sey Ojo, Accountant, United Kingdom

Performance appraisals in my opinion should not be allowed to become a routine annual exercise, but should be used to improve the performances of all levels of staff. They should be carried out in an informal environment that does not make the appraisee feel he/she is being interviewed or scrutinized. Appraisals can be made fun, with the supervisor and the supervised benefiting immensely as both parties are able to share a lot which can be transferred into the work place. Appraisal discussions could be held informally every six or eight weeks with supervisory note taken by the supervisor.

Periodicity and Purpose of Appraisals
K Ghosh, Business Consultant, India
I have been in the automobile industry for over 10 years now. While I agree with most of the views expressed, I do believe that appraisal should not be a tool for salary justification alone. It should be more to take stock of the individual performance level and suitability, besides assessing the training needs.
Having said that, for any systematic and timely performance course correction, wouldn't it be more practical to carry out appraisals every quarter? It might be able to improve performance when ever there is a dip. Why should we wait for the year end process to appraise an employee as to what is wrong with him. Sum total of business output is a continuous process through the year, and it does not wait your yearly appraisals and assessments for any corrective measure! I would be delighted to hear on this, from my learned friends!

Performance Assessments Must Be Ongoing
Anagha Kumar, HR Consultant, India
I agree performance assessment is an ongoing activity and should not happen half-yearly or annually. If the manager gives instant feedback (positive / negative), the employee gets a fair understanding about his/her performance rating by the year end. I think where the system fails is if the employee does not receive feedback through out the year and is surprised during annual assessment.
Another factor which can contribute to the success of performance assessment is goal setting, it helps employees to relate there work/job to the big picture/organisation goals.

The Annual Performance Review Process: Let the Games Begin!
Maurizio Morselli, Teacher, Italy
About the annual performance review games people play and the perils of the Gaussuan Curve.
It’s the end of January! How did you perform in the recent games?
Most organizations by now have concluded their annual evaluation cycle, after HR’s numerous nagging reminders to the various business heads in a recurring attempt to achieve 100% completion rate by the pre-set due dates; after numerous acrobatics and follow ups, diligent HR colleagues have logged in all appraisals, produced numerous rankings and distribution reports and finally after a lot of prodding and nagging, managers were finally given the go ahead to begin conducting their one on one reviews with their direct reports before year end. The approach to performance reviews, the target distribution goals and related strictness may vary but in my experience, most are a variations of the above.
Furthermore, I believe that a single approach to the annual performance review process does not exist. The cornucopia of annual evaluation methods contains mostly hybrids/combinations of different annual performance evaluation models. As a result you will see organizations using graphic rating scales along with forced ranking; you will see organizations using Management by Objectives along with “Forced ranking”; there could be multiple combinations as well. However what one quickly realizes is that by default all of the mechanisms either are or resemble some form of “Forced Ranking”: Although the term “forced”, for me, just doesn’t conjure up happy images of collaborative, balanced environments, I admit it is an apt description.
Let’s look at a definition of “Forced ranking”? Meisler* defines forced ranking as” a work-force management tool, based on the premise that in order to develop and thrive, a corporation must identify its best and worst performers, then nurture the former and rehabilitate and/or discard the latter. It’s an elixir that in these slow-growth times has proved irresistible to scores of desperate corporate chieftains – but indigestible to a good many employees” (2003, para 2)
Forced ranking became a popular and clean method during Jack Welch’s era in GE. Over the period of time, it has been adopted globally by many organizations.
Forced ranking goes hand in hand with the ever popular bell curve (an example below) or as my erudite colleagues in Europe like to call it; the Gaussian curve (it’s still a bell curve, carissimi colleghi!). Here’s how it works: for simplicity’s sake let’s assume there’s an organization with 100 employees (though an organization with such a small size should not adopt forced ranking as a rigid performance appraisal tool… yet many do!). So… organization that use ‘Forced ranking”, will (at the end of its performance cycle) “distribute” its 100 employees as below or in similar distribution patterns (along the bell curve). Results?: 10 -20 percent of employees in the excellent range, 70-80 percent as average performers and the remaining 10% percent are at the lower end of the “horizontal totem pole” as I call it.
And as depicted above, salaries, promotions, incentives are neatly distributed based on the above curve.
So what is wrong? It is exactly what Meisler says: “…irresistible to scores of desperate corporate chieftains – but indigestible to a good many employees”.
Why is it “irresistible” to Organizations? Simply because it limits the percentage (and hence the number) of employees who can be defined as “excellent”. Thus saving on raises, and other perks.
Why is “indigestible” to a good many employees? The results are no longer the only measure but the Supervisor now needs to make a decision based on personal perceptions and thus must inevitably resort to another “evaluative (subjective) database” resident in their annual memory recall bank. The Supervisor naturally recalls only those subordinates who have been “visible” or vocal enough or naturally clever at positioning themselves. Everyone must find a way to make their work (or perception of their work) visible: This gives rise to the fantastic subset of dance steps, which by now employees know must be practiced throughout the year. Read the rest of my article.

Performance Appraisal not Only Performance Review
sergio wojtyszyn, Other, Argentina
The performance appraisal is a good moment to have a formal meeting with the employee. But sometimes managers take this moment as the only in the year. In this cases, the appraisal looses effectiveness. The most important thing is to be clear with the objectives of the position, how you will measure the efforts made and the follow-up during the whole year.
Some other commons mistakes are when you decide on the needed competencies that you take too many. And of course, when you don’t arrange proper follow-up. In these cases the performance appraisal become a paper exercise.


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