Appraising the Appraisal System

Most businesses today use some form of process to review staff performance. This is either done using a performance management approach or appraisal process. But, if you have an appraisal process in place in your organisation, is it actually doing what it’s supposed to be. Ask yourself the question – There is an appraisal process in place but what is it actually doing for the business?

If it’s doing little or nothing, then maybe it’s time for a revamp; however, before you go off and reinvent the wheel with a whole new process, there are a few things to consider about the existing process. Let’s face it, introducing a brand new process could have more of a negative impact on the business than what the current one may be having.

Depending on the job you do may depend on how you feel about appraisals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insinuating that everyone has a negative view of appraisals but from some research that has been carried out in organisations will show that there is a difference of opinion.

For example, let’s say you are a Trainer. Your view of the appraisal process may be that it’s there as a development tool. It’s there to encourage motivation, help people to understand what they need to achieve and a great opportunity for an employee to sit with their line manager and get some feedback to help them improve. From the appraisal process you should be able to identify what the businesses training and development needs are. You should be able to see who the top performers are and prime for development into a higher role.

Now, ask the same question to a manager. Depending on their view of the world and the type of manager they are will depend on what answer they give you. They may give you the answer described above; however, their view may be very different. There is potential that they may totally dislike the process and give you feedback such as ‘Appraisals are always at the wrong time for me’, I feel uncomfortable doing appraisals’, ‘the process is too long’, ‘what difference does it make’, ‘we have enough to do without filling in all of these forms’, ‘appraisals are unfair’ etc.

So, if people in the team feel this way about appraisals, maybe its not the process that needs changing, but the people who apply the process. Re-educating them on the purpose of the appraisal process and helping them to see that appraisals are about the first answer may be all that is required to re-invigorate the process in your business. If the feedback you are getting suggests the documentation is too complex, can you change it? Is there some way that you can simplify the whole process so that its not so labour intensive? This will surely get you some more buy in to your process.

If the feedback you are getting shows that the process simply isn’t working then maybe its time for change. Its so easy as the person developing the new process to go out and build something that suits them. Doing that will probably give you the same results as what you currently have. You need to get feedback from the business and consult with them to understand what they want the process to do. Ask them questions such as ‘Why should we have an appraisal system?’, ‘What should the process deliver?’, ‘What do you want people to do that they most probably won’t do if without an appraisal process?

This will give you a great indication of what to add to your process and how to tailor it to your individual business needs. So remember, it may not be the process that needs changing, but maybe the way people think about the process.

Good Luck

David Lumley


Revolution Learning and Development