Performing an appraisal on employees can be nerve racking for both parties if the situation is not handled correctly, and is thus seen as one of the most difficult tasks managers face. There are many acts a manager can perform to make the process easier on both parties, and hopefully, mutually beneficial.
Many assume that performance appraisals are meant to identify weaknesses to be worked on, and exposing these weaknesses can be painful for employees. Martha Craumer suggests that organizations should be leveraging the strengths of each employee rather than focusing on their weaknesses. By “encouraging and developing what people do well naturally…the organization could become more efficient by allowing their people to do what they do best” (Craumer, 2001).
The frequency of appraisal can be a notable factor in ongoing development. Yearly performance reviews are becoming increasingly rare as companies begin to see the benefits of frequent appraisal. Susan Heathfield suggests that quarterly performance development meetings can allow for clear direction towards performance goals (Heathfield, Performance Management is NOT an Annual Appraisal). Constant tuning of performance can be much more effective than annual overhauls.
Any individual administering performance appraisals must realize the two-way conversation that is occurring. Inviting feedback and listening to reactions and concerns from the employee during the appraisal process becomes very important to establishing trust with the employee (United States Department of the Interior, 2004). If the appraiser provides any negative feedback or improvement points, suggestions should be made to help resolve the problem to develop the person’s performance. With the suggestions made, follow-up should occur to assist with any problems with the development and to track progress, rather than waiting until the next performance review (Fukami, Performance Appraisal, 2007).
Often being seen as a strictly hierarchical feedback tool, performance appraisals can be less “scary” if employees have the opportunity to appraise their managers as well as their peers. With this 360-degree feedback process, employees and managers will see multiple vantages of their performance and can participate on an even playing field, ultimately providing a greater ability to work together to achieve corporate goals (Kulik, 2004).
Performance appraisals should not be looked upon as a necessary evil, but rather a process that has the ability to develop and improve the people within the company. By taking the time to create appropriate performance measures, and administering them accordingly, the resulting system can provide long-term gain for the company.
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For a discussion of why many people think of feedback as criticism visit:
For a discussion of differing views on feedback and specific examples on how to give feedback visit: