7 Reasons Why I Hate Performance Appraisals

July 9, 2013 - 7 minute read - Posted by

Performance appraisal is one of the most dreaded and hated process for managers and employees. There has been a movement to abolish performance appraisals altogether because they simply do not work. Companies still use the archaic annual performance reviews because they do not know what else to do. I have dealt with different types of performance appraisals and have never appreciated going through the process. Here are 7 reasons why I hate them.

1. Managers simply do not know their employees.

I have worked at many jobs where I would rarely be on the same shifts as my managers. How can you assess an employee when you cannot directly observe their behaviours and performance? As an employee, I did not have a platform where I could log in every task I did on my shift. It became difficult for me to be open for feedback when my manager obviously did not keep track of my progress. Although 360 feedback is a good tool to gather information, I believe that a manager should be up-to-date with their employees’ performance rather than relying on others to know how their employees are performing.

2. Managers are not trained properly.

The idea behind performance appraisals is to have a 1-on-1 discussion with your employees to talk about how they did and how they can perform better. Instead, managers are provided with a standardized format of what they need to ask and how to assess each employee. The problem is that a standardized process assumes that every employee is the same. Managers are not given enough support on how to deal with a wide range of emotional responses. When performance appraisals go wrong, it creates a negative relationship between the managers and the employees. Managers do not know how to follow up with the employees without causing further animosity. Employees perceive performance appraisals as a punishment.

3.There is a thin line between “person” and “performance” in performance appraisals.

My biggest problem with performance appraisals is that a session can turn personal very fast. Managers go on a tangent when they do not know how to conduct a proper performance appraisal. They start to evaluate the employees’ characteristics and behaviours, instead of their work performance. I remember an old manager giving me constructive feedback on my grumpiness during a performance appraisal. The fact that I was grumpy in the morning once never affected my performance at completing my tasks and delivering results. I would be more open to the feedback if she took me aside on the spot and talked to me about my grumpiness, than wait for the end of the year to bring it up. It is hard to distinguish whether you are being assessed for the final result you deliver or the effort you put into delivering your performance.

4. The process is time consuming for managers.

Managers are left on their own to collect the information needed to conduct the performance appraisals. They need to keep track of what each employee has done, how well they have performed, and other factors that may affect their performance. There is a high anxiety level for the managers as they have to figure out how to objectively rate the employees fairly and consistently. Managers see performance appraisals as being a burden. Their lack of interest affects employees as the performance appraisals become a formality to get the appropriate information to fill out the necessary forms. Employees get nothing out of the performance appraisals other than their total ratings for their annual performance.

5. Performance appraisals create an atmosphere of high anxiety and stress.

Many companies conduct an annual performance appraisal with no in-between coaching sessions. Employees walk in the meeting without having any idea on their performance. They have not received feedback from their managers throughout the year and have not gotten any opportunities to improve. Being in the unknown makes employees nervous and very defensive. It is even more demoralizing when the outcome of the performance appraisal is linked to your compensation. An increase in wages depends on how much the manager remembers about your performance. People get sensitive when their salaries are being altered at someone’s discretion.

6. Communication during performance appraisals is one way. 

Every performance appraisal I have had was always management-driven. I had no say in their ratings of my performance and was not welcomed to share my feedback to them. It was a one-way street where my only role was to accept whatever the manager had decided for me. It was disheartening to not being able to contribute to the discussion. Feedback for managers was anonymous which leads to a one-way process again. I see the lack of transparency as being hypocritical.

7. Performance appraisals are subjective

Companies create different rating systems with the hope that these tools will help the performance appraisals to become more objective. Many uses the Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS) where an example is provided for each rating.  The examples are used as a benchmark for managers to decide how to rate their employees. It is still left to the managers’ discretion when an employee’s performance is ambiguous. Different interpretations of the rating scale and an employee’s level of performance make the process subjective. Using a rating system creates an illusion of objectivity and employee motivation decreases when their contributions become quantified.

Companies are adopting a flatter organizational structure with less middle management level. Employees are seeking continuous feedback in order to improve.  Stop conducting performance appraisals. New technology such as social performance management offers features such as tracking employees’ progress and providing recognition. These new social platforms are great alternatives to the traditional performance appraisals.

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