Do they really help?
“One of the most frightening and degrading experience in every employee’s life is the Annual Performance Review,” says Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. (Markle; 2000). A large no of brilliant researchers, academics and dynamic corporate heads also have the same opinion. Do we then do away with the performance appraisal? “No” says an equally large number of experts. They reason that without appraisals, HRM cannot gauge the performance of the employees, which is perhaps one among the main functions of HR. As per Rao, performance appraisal is the basis for HRM (Rao, 2010). Without knowing the performance potential of the employees, we cannot set targets or make plans for growth, diversification etc. of a firm. In this short essay, we will examine both sides of the coin and try to arrive at a logical conclusion.
Why is it necessary to assess employee performance?
An organization cannot grow without proper business planning, and its proper implementation. For this, employee motivation and job satisfaction is essential. These parameters are not tangible which necessitates their measurement by a feedback system. Today, almost all companies have short term and long term “Mission Statements”. Performance appraisal is a formal management system that provides for the evaluation of the quality of an individual’s performance in an organization.(Grote, 2002). The employee’s immediate supervisor usually prepares the evaluation, the objective being to guide the employees towards the common corporate goal as defined in the mission statement.
The ideal Performance Appraisal exercise: Let us try to list down the criteria of such an ideal exercise by using common sense.
An appraisal should be a continuous process. The appraised and appraiser one-on-one discussion should be in private and confidential. Performance targets should be finalized after mutual acceptance and well discussed. Benchmark meetings should be held after fixed periods where progress tie then is gauged there can be a benchmark meeting, informal type, where the progress made till then is gauged. From the process of continuous appraisal, the weak areas of employee can be located and training should be should be given in the areas where the employee lacks expertise connected to the company’s overall goal. Appraisals should not be related to monetary benefits directly and neither should other benefits such as promotions. The aim of the appraisal should be to help, train and motivate and not to punish. This researcher believes that the dead weight of Performance Appraisal should rest on these pillars given above.
However, Performance Appraisal today has evolved into something else. Corporates are getting more and more filled up with ostriches and fence sitters. Managers today fill in a performance appraisal form for a subordinate 10-15 minutes, the period of appraisal being a year. Bias plays a prominent part in appraisals in some cases. Even if the apprise is non-biased, the employee is demotivated as he thinks that he has been biased again. His belief is based on hearsay. The employee gets demotivated and performance level droops. Would a face-to face meeting have avoided this misunderstanding? Yes, it would have had
Let us then stop this charade and instead let us start measuring performance the effective way. In this way, employees will have nothing to nothing to fear as the onus will not be on punishment, but on coaching , training inspiring confidence and bringing about motivation.
Therefore, the notoriety of ‘Performance Appraisal’ is not because of human nature, but is due to the fact that the appraisal is something else from what it is supposed to be. Aware of his temerity, this researcher nevertheless wants to suggest a step-by-step process to solve the problem of this bogeyman and exorcize the Ogre.
i. Eliminate the mutant hybrid, which now masquerades as performance appraisal
ii. Introduce the actual process, which is continuous in nature
iii. Rename the process by an alternate name, which is positive sounding such as PED (performance enhancement discussions)
iv. Make effective performance evaluation performance a factor which contributes say 10% of the performance score of the appraiser
Whatever we do, it is high time that a solution is found to this imbroglio.
a) Coens T, Jenkins.M (2010), Abolishing Performance Appraisal, Berrett-Kohler Publications Inc., San Fransisco, California, USA
b) Grote D, (2002), Performance Appraisal Question and Answer Book, AMACOM Books Saranac Lake, NY, USA
c) Markle,G.L.(2000), Catalytic Coaching : The End of the Performance Review, Greenwood Press, Westport,CT-USA
d) Rao.T.V. (2004), Performance Management and Appraisal Systems: HR Tools For Global Competitiveness ,Sage Publications Ltd., 55 City Road, London EC1Y 1SP,UK