Performance Planning and Review: Making Employee Appraisals Work

By Richard Rudman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
REVIEWING PERFORMANCE

Traditionally, performance appraisal systems have centred on a once-ayear interview between the manager and the employee. That discussion has often been a review of the employee's behavioural traits or personal characteristics. As we have seen in earlier chapters, performance planning and review should be a year-round process and it should focus on performance requirements and achievements, not on the person or personality of the employee.

In other words, the formal performance discussion should spring no surprises. It should be an opportunity for people who work together all the time to take a step back from their day-to-day relationship, to summarise the period just gone and, in the light of that experience and the business or operating objectives of the unit or department, plan for the time or work ahead.

The traditional performance appraisal interview often involves a series of supposedly 'constructive' criticisms of past performance, from which the employee is expected to learn and gain motivation to do better in future. Unfortunately, criticism—even 'constructive' criticism—doesn't have this effect on most people. And because the interview usually focuses on what went wrong, praise has little impact in the performance appraisal interview. Employees see praise simply as wrapping for the criticism which they perceive to be the interview's real purpose.

A once-a-year interview is not the appropriate time to pick up on individual mistakes or incidents of inadequate performance; they should have been dealt with when they happened. Nor, in my view, is it an appropriate time to talk about an employee's future aspirations. It's not the best place or time, nor is the manager necessarily the best person to ask such questions as 'Where would you like to be in five years' time?' The main purpose of the performance discussion is to enable two people who 'contracted' for certain performance to take an overview of the outcomes of that contract, and to agree on what should happen in the time ahead.

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