I had a great meeting yesterday with two HR executives who suggested that, at least in their organization, they just stop doing performance appraisal. I can't tell you how happy I was to hear this statement. Whenever I teach, I preach the same thing. Why?
* Per the HR executive: Performance appraisal causes problems, takes tons of time, results in ratings that we all know are not quite accurate, and really - we want managers to talk to employees regularly not once a year.
* Push-back HR executive got from her team: We need them for legal reasons. She has been around long enough to know first hand that this is just not the case. Plus, if managers had 'regular' conversations, then you would have better data.
How do you assure regular conversations? We were talking about adding a question to a regular survey asking employees "are you getting feedback from your managers?" This is a simple solution - something that real managers would trade in for the yearly agony of having to fill out the long, painful performance appraisal forms.
Other defenses I've heard for keeping performance appraisal:
* The 'keep' argument: You need it for merit pay.
* The 'delete' argument: Let's face it - if you are lucky, you have 3% budgeted for merit pay; this is not even cost of living. Why not just give cost of living to everyone who does well enough to stay and then add a recognition program for above and beyond (outstanding) performance? You don't need performance appraisal for that.
When I teach performance appraisal, I title the section: "In search of the right form." Throughout history we have tried and tried to change the forms. Sometimes we go backwards and take what we used to do and change labels. In fact, one could argue that the recent move toward competencies are just BARS (remember those- behavioral anchored rating scale) all over again.
No matter how long the form, how complex the process, managers HATE doing it.
Doing the performance appraisal, no matter what, is a negative experience. It demotivates both employees and managers. I wonder what the effect on productivity is of performance appraisal. Managers hate doing it; employees hate receiving this formal document, and everyone spends way too much time on it.
I just want to say thank you to the HR executive I met who brought up this topic. And she is not with a small company; she is well trained in HRM, and I am convinced she can make it work.
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