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Performance appraisals are dead – aren’t they?!

Managers usually hate performance appraisals – prepare for it, get your direct report focused on it, commit to time to meet them, then fill out endless forms and file them – what’s to like?!

Appraisals are one of the most frequently criticised talent management practises. The criticisms range from their being an enormous waste of time to their having a destructive impact on the relationship between manager and their direct reports.

If we then throw in the manager’s view of the employee’s performance versus the employees’ view – it all adds to a difficult and sometime acrimonious process.

However – as Edward E. Lawlor III, Professor of Business and the University of Southern California, recently stated in a Forbes article entitled ‘Performance Appraisals are Dead, Long Live Performance Management’ – the problem with abandoning them is that they are vital to effective talent management.
So what can we do to enhance their reputation, build manager and employee enthusiasm for use, and genuinely ensure that companies are getting added value, and not just a paper trail?

Firstly, we need to gather information about individuals, and in the absolute worst case, appraisal records are essential for processing that performance improvement plan and managing that poor performing employee.
In the best case, we can motivate, track and analyse the performance of our high flyers, the employees who will drive our company in the future and will be our leaders.

Most medium to large companies in Ireland have performance appraisal processes in place, and most will agree that they will be retaining this process. In other words, the death of performance appraisals is not occurring and is unlikely to occur.

In reality, employers do not have an option about retaining a performance appraisal process – however what they can do is ensure they are maximising the process, making sure it is usable, simple, straightforward, fair and MOST importantly, that it is just a part of a complete performance management system, which includes goal setting, development, compensation actions, performance feedback and which is supported from the top down.