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Performance Appraisals… and Why They’re Such Bad News

This is the view of InterBe which provides transformational training and development to large companies and small businesses. The Director Mo Cohen explains why he believes that appraisals for performance aren’t the best idea and suggests alternatives.

Performance appraisals have now become an integral aspect of corporate culture. They are, in theory, meant to evaluate and record the performance of an employee, providing them feedback on the way they’re performing and providing them with the chance to grow personally and growth and also the opportunity to inform the business on how things are going for the employees. However, the reality of appraisals for performance can be quite different, but.

It is a mistake

Most of the time, they’re more about encouraging employees but mostly about making clear what’s wrong. It is rare for employees to feel inspired or inspired by their experiences, which could easily be transformed into blame, criticism and justifying. Employees are often “made wrong” by a procedure that aims to gauge their performance, without any actual consideration to the the context or circumstance. Although some companies believe that appraisals of performance provide evidence on that they can base their organization’s plan of development, this data is not always accurate or “true”.

The old-fashioned way of arranging hierarchy

Research has shown an important and most significant aspects in determining the motivation level of an employee and productivity in the workplace is the relationship that they share with their direct supervisor. This relationship is more significant than an employee’s capacity to connect with the organisation’s culture and values, even though clearly it is an obvious connection between how managers think and behave from the highest levels of their organisations and how that translates down to employees.

There is a growing emphasis on business empowering their employees, and giving them more autonomy in their workplace. This is thought to be one of the main elements in bringing about lasting cultural changes.

Performance appraisals are an example of the traditional hierarchical system that many companies are trying to move out of. They are the perfect example of top-down thinking, confirming the status of managers and subordinates. In general, appraisals look at what is not working and concentrates on what’s not working, but in the disguise of trying to solve it. The biggest flaw is that there’s no acceptance, acknowledgement or appreciation.

Truth subjectivity

One of the main arguments in favor of firms that conduct appraisals of performance is that they offer “evidence” of an employee’s performance. They are in reality the most subjective view of truth, not necessarily the truth. The manager’s evaluation of the performance of an employee may not be as accurate as the employee’s personal perception of their performance. And frequently it fails to reflect the view of the employee’s mind.

If the current method of performing appraisals isn’t effective, what else could be more effective?

A new view of the world

We believe that it’s not an issue of rethinking the appraisal system, as it operates within the same view of the world. It continues to assume that there is a measure of performance to be measured. If we are going to create an entirely different culture of business, we must shift our perception of the world towards something completely different. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with having discussions regarding how employees feel at work and in fact, it is an excellent thing. However, we believe there must be an entirely different method of conducting these discussions which is more beneficial for employees, and also more beneficial for the entire business.

Perception

InterBe recently provided advice to an NHS organization on how to replace appraisals for performance by something more effective and inspiring for people. One of the points we advised them on was that they should know that perception lies the main focus of every appraisal, and that it is essential that everyone’s perception is considered to be equally legitimate. The person performing the appraisal should take on a stance of curiosity and desire to learn more about what’s being discussed, instead of acting as if they were in a position of blame or judgment. In the new system managers are informed by an employee as is the employee informed by the manager.

Managers and employees are advised to be aware of the fact that they are bringing their own opinions and experience to what is being discussed. It is important not to make rash conclusions without going over with the other person what’s being said, and, more specifically what the message is. It is certainly the job of a manager to ensure that employees are held accountable for their work performance but this doesn’t mean that they should blame them or making them do something wrong. In the event that an employee’s work is viewed to be “failing”, we would suggest that the boss might be thinking about their own failure to motivate them.

Being accountable

The responsibility isn’t just the responsibility of managers. Employees should be willing to consider what is meant by being accountable. We recommend that they be explicit about the outcomes they will create and acknowledge that they will have to be accountable for those results. It’s also beneficial for employees to not take things personally and instead be open to listening to the manager’s advice.

What is the best way for InterBe take on the idea of appraisal? There is no formal appraisal system. If a member of the team is struggling, they are given the right at all times to speak up about their weaknesses, to feel vulnerable, and to seek assistance and help. Our philosophy is to reframe “problems”, in other words, examining the issue from a different point of perspective. We’re all open to each other at any time to provide our expertise and provide support. There is no hierarchy, and this is a strategy that has worked extremely effectively for us!

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