Why does Performance Appraisal fail?

Posted on October 31, 2014 at 09:51 AM

Performance Management promises much - but invariably disappoints at all levels.

It can enhance individual and organisational productivity, improve working relationships, identify development needs, close skills gaps, enable career progression and enhance employee engagement - and yet, all too often, it fails to meet expectations.

In our experience as talent management software specialists, there are six main reasons why performance management fails to live up to expectations - and Ian Lee-Emery, MD of Head Light, has written about these in Training Journal.

  1. We’ve all forgotten why we’re doing it.
    The ultimate goals of talent performance management are rarely made clear either to those responsible for conducting appraisals or to those who are about to be appraised. Also when the focus of performance management comes down to the mechanics filling in a form, the process descends into a tick box exercise in HR compliance - and any real value can be lost.
  2. Many managers really don’t want to do it.
    Performance management in its truest sense isn’t difficult; most managers simply don’t like doing it. Giving effective, honest and constructive feedback – and having ‘courageous conversations’ about under performance – takes them outside of their comfort zone.
  3. It’s trying to do too much - and that’s getting in the way.
    All the different stakeholders want different things from the process and it cannot deliver everything to everybody.
  4. It is vulnerable to poor practice.
    Performance management can be susceptible to subjective, unjustified and inconsistent ratings as well as ‘blind spots’ or tensions between a manager and an employee. If you don’t set up the process to assess people against relevant criteria, performance management falls at the first hurdle.
  5. Cultural blocks can get in the way.
    The culture of the organisation – in terms of the attitudes that prevail – can be a key enabling (or derailing) factor in performance management. For example, organisations which have an autocratic culture, in which managers are used to telling people what to do, will struggle to implement effective performance management.
  6. The HR team doesn’t provide adequate support.
    A telling question for organisations is: “Where does HR spend its time in relation to performance management?” Is it on the administrative aspects of sending out emails and chasing people to complete their forms? Or is it sitting down with managers, reviewing the goals/ objectives they’ll set for their team members or discussing the strategies that can be adopted to manage difficult performance.

But how to meet and overcome the challenges of performance appraisal? We offer our thoughts in the full Training Journal article - and you may also like to take a look at how our Talent Performance tool can support you which forms part of our talent management software suite.

If you are looking to make the transition to a more continuous performance management approach, then read more. 

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