On a recent appraisal skills training course the question came up, do appraisals really work? For many people appraisals are a task that needs to be carried out every year to keep the boss happy. Well if this is the case then obviously they do not work.
Unfortunately so many managers are poor in appraisal skills and therefore the opportunity is lost. An appraisal or an appraisal system is only as good or bad as the person carrying out the appraisal. I hear some horrific stories about how appraisals are conducted and sometimes not even conducted but just signed off saying things like ‘things are okay, you’re doing fine, lets just sign this and send it up to the Head Office’
If you are working with a Manager who does this, I feel sorry for you. Appraisals if carried out properly do work. They offer the chance to set goals, talk about barriers diverting you from your goals and offer the Manager the opportunity to give feedback in a constructive way. It also offers the appraisee the opportunity to offer the appraiser feedback in an honest and open way.
Appraisal skills training is a vital component of ensuring companies and staff get the best out of appraisals. If it is seen as a stick to beat some one with, it’s wrong. Likewise if it is seen as a paper exercise with no substance and meaning it is also wrong. It is vitally important that all parties involved in appraisals attend some form of training as to how to conduct effective appraisals for both parties.
The once a year appraisal also does not work, but a good once a year meeting where goals are agreed and feedback is honest and open, followed by a series of one to one meetings during the year to ensure the goals are on track does work.
The key to effective appraisals is honesty and openness of both parties where they discuss previous performance and rectify any gaps in performance and agree a plan of action going forward. It should also uncover any development needs for any training that may be necessary.
The appraiser needs skills such as questioning, listening and goal setting as well as the skills necessary to offer effective feedback. All people would prefer to know how they were performing as long as it is carried out effectively.
To go back to the question do appraisals work the answer is a definite yes, as long as both parties have the requisite skills to carry out appraisals effectively. There are many appraisal skills training courses which can help to make this one of the best management tools available.