How to avoid Performance Appraisal errors

In the last few years, the Performance Appraisal process has come under a fair bit of criticism, with not all of it undeserved. Research in the NHS has shown that a badly structured performance appraisal was more likely to reduce employee engagement than increase it, which is fairly depressing! There have also been reports of organisations ditching any performance appraisal process altogether, which makes a good headline, but when you dig further you find that they’re actually replacing it with ongoing performance conversations and feedback. The irony is, that is what a good performance appraisal should be about anyway!

Redesigning the appraisal process

Why do performance appraisal fail?

A performance appraisal should be a continuation of what is going on all year-round, it isn’t and never should be a substitute for regular 1 to 1’s and feedback. The problem truly stems from appraisals being so infrequent; the work involved in making it happen is disproportionate. Both parties feel self-conscious and potentially anxious, and it becomes unnatural.

The design of many performance appraisals can also cause problems, as very often there is just too much to cover in the time available. Yes, you need to review objectives (assuming you have set objectives) but if you also need to go through 11 competencies or values and agree on a rating on everything, then that is quite a heavy-duty conversation. Add into the mix the tension between rating performance and discussing career aspirations or development needs within the same conversation and for me, this feels incongruent.

Top tips to avoid performance appraisal pitfalls are as follows:

  1. Ensure that everyone has SMART objectives in the first place – you cannot appraise against thin air!
  2. Demand a culture of ongoing feedback and 121’s where objectives are updated if required
  3. Discuss development needs when they are relevant and implement ASAP to maximise performance
  4. Keep numbers of competencies to a minimum or split them out from the end of year performance conversation – less is more
  5. If you are using performance ratings, introduce a mid-year review to give both parties chance to share their views and do something about it before year end.
  6. Use an effective performance appraisal software to carry out your appraisal and encourage year-round performance within your organisation.

For more information on how Actus can help your business to avoid these classic performance appraisal errors and to book a demo of Actus Performance Appraisal Software, get in touch below.

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