What is the Result of all these Performance Appraisal Comments?

Introduction

Maybe some of you remember my article of June 2015 titled: Performance Appraisals – why people hate them. My first sentence read that these reviews should be gotten rid of. Fast forward to now, the beginning of 2019, I am happy to tell you that more and more companies tend to move away from these monstrous annual reviews. After all they are only one of the many boss’s tricks in their arsenal, serve only them and do not form any constructive medium for the employees.

This has been set in motion in the past few years as a consequence of the numerous comments on performance appraisals. So, where are we now? What is the result of making all these negative performance appraisal comments?

Recent developments

Do you still have an annual moment when your performance is assessed? At the end of the year or right now, at the beginning of the next year? Well there is hope, as this is changing for more and more people: the traditional assessment interview is declining. Large companies in many countries already quit the annual discussions in which the performance of employees was discussed.

One example: recently a large Dutch insurance company called Achmea was in the news with the confirmation that they stopped the annual appraisal interviews for all 12,000 employees at short notice. Management feedback is now to be a logical part of the work at times that it suits. Their employees indicate that they need frequent feedback: they want to learn and ask for clarity and transparency about their development regularly. With this new assessment system, they can request feedback throughout the year that helps them to develop.

Another example: During 2016, one of the largest companies in the world, Accenture, has done all of its employees and managers an enormous favor: It will get rid of the annual performance review. It will implement a more fluid system, in which employees receive timely feedback from their managers on an ongoing basis following assignments. In this ‘massive revolution’, Accenture is joining a list of major corporations that have had enough of the reviews.

More flaws of the old system

Though many major companies still haven’t taken the leap, most are aware that their current systems are flawed. In the USA, a management research firm  found that 95 percent of managers are dissatisfied with the way their companies conduct performance reviews, and nearly 90 percent of HR leaders say the process doesn’t even yield accurate information.

Employees that do best in performance management systems tend to be the employees that are the most narcissistic and self-promoting, this firm found out. Those aren’t necessarily the employees you need in order to be the best organization going forward. Brain research has shown that even employees who get positive reviews experience negative effects from the process. It often triggers disengagement, and constricts our openness to creativity and growth.

Many companies are still hiding their unwillingness to pay their employees what they deserve by manipulating the outcome of these assessments reports as they seem fit. This has been one of the main critical points of annual interviews.

Looking at employee’s needs

Employees no longer want to be approached once a year, but increasingly want to be in conversation with their superior throughout the year. In general, you can say that appraisal interviews are seen as an obligation and employees need good feedback several times a year. They want to know where they stand, how they can go further. People prefer to talk about developments and opportunities. In other words, the traditional assessment interview no longer meets the needs of employees. And right now, with a tight labor market, it’s good for employers to listen to their employees.

Incidentally, this does not only apply to young people – who are often more open and free – older employees too often have the feeling of falling between the cracks, according to a survey carried out recently. A representative survey in the field showed that fifty percent have an appraisal interview and older employees more often have fewer assessment moments than their younger colleagues. Those are people who have worked for twenty years and know that they have to continue for twenty years and want to know how to deploy their talents in the coming years.

Atmosphere of openness

In the companies where the assessments have been abolished, other feedback systems often take the place – such as the so-called 360 degree feedback – in which several colleagues are asked to come up with points for improvement, or a continuous dialogue at the moment that one is really need by boss or staff. Easier said than done: because if it’s busy on the shop floor, that could just cannot happen, you might think. However, you have to build that up with each other. By organizing meetings where employees and managers talk to each other and talk about what is going on. You can then make agreements with each other. Then it becomes something of everyone. Not just from the manager. 

And such a conversation between employee and manager will only be a success if there is involvement. To each other, to work and to the organization. People really appreciate it when there is attention for each other. Also important is openness. If necessary, you also have to show what really is on your mind, without holding back. In practicing this turned out to be a very fruitful exercise. People were not used to talking to each other and said afterwards: we have to do this more. It is also up to employees themselves to be active there and to explain to each other and of course their manager, what they find important in their work. 

My conclusion

I would suggest here and now that performance appraisals are indeed a thing of the past. Companies still using them, should really scratch their heads, whether these annual monstrosities contribute to the well being of their employees and consequently to the health of the company.

Now the time is here to ask your bosses for feedback the moment it is needed and not wait until an evaluation which may only come so many months later. What good would that be for you, your manager or your company? Nobody is going to benefit from festering problems, disgruntled staff and unsolved issues.

If your boss is not interested in giving you positive advice the moment it is needed, even when you ask for feedback and guidance, you might want to conclude that you are with the wrong company. I would applaud it and greatly respect it if you would confront your bosses with your dislikes. And if you would have to leave that jungle, so be it.

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Performance Appraisals – Why People Hate Them

Introduction

We should get rid of performance appraisals.

Nowhere does negative or constructive criticism appear more frequently than in performance reviews of employees. The prevailing theory is that criticism, which invariably is part of the performance review, will improve the performance appraisalsemployee’s performance, and in addition the employee will positively welcome it. Nothing can be further from the truth.

In my 36 years of being an employee I have seen nothing constructive about an annual pay and performance review.

I am quoting Dr. Culbert – Professor of Management who is very clear in his criticism:

To my way of thinking, a one-side-accountable, boss-administered review is little more than a dysfunctional pretense. It’s a negative to corporate performance, an obstacle to straight-talk relationships, and a prime cause of low morale at work. Even the mere knowledge that such an event will take place damages daily communications and teamwork.

The alleged primary purpose of performance reviews is to enlighten subordinates about what they should be doing better or differently. But I see the primary purpose quite differently. I see it as intimidation aimed at preserving the boss’s authority and power advantage. Such intimidation is unnecessary, though: The boss has the power with or without the performance review.

I have personally come across a lot of negatives and I am giving you my take below, again greatly inspired by Dr. Culbert, you can read his essay here. I will also give you a perfect solution to avoid these issues.

Yearly cycle

From my own extensive experience I know that most performance appraisals take place once a year and at the end of a year or the beginning of next year. You just see bosses get more and more uncomfortable as the time comes and more often than not performance appraisalsthese reviews will only be finished in January, leaving the employee in total uncertainty about their new salary until the end of that month.

Why is this evaluation only done once and that late? If the review needs to indicate where the employee lacks in capability or needs to enhance the performance, why wait until the end of the year to tell them, when it would be too late to remedy anything?

Is it not in the interest of the company to supply clearness to people involved at the time needed? Oh, this person is not performing up to standard, but I will wait until the end of the year to tell him/her. Yea, right!

Different mindsets

What do you think when you enter into a yearly review? I bet it is about how big a salary raise you could get and your career development mostly and maybe about how you can do even better and you hope you can do this in a constructive evaluation with your boss. You think that everything you do or say will affect your pay rise and you are prepared to negotiate about it.performance appraisals

However, your boss comes to the table with a different mindset. He knows he can only give you so much or even has to tell you to wait until next year. He wants to talk about your relationships with other people and how you interact with them. He has missed opportunities in mind and spent time finding out where you lack in skills.

Knowing all this any constructive discussion has been virtually killed-off beforehand! This is exactly how I experienced having a try at a mutual dialogue and found it was utterly impossible. Now I know exactly why, but right then it was more of a nuisance, with the predicted outcome of me asking myself: why am I wasting my time here!

Indeed I have been at a point, where I told my boss just to skip the whole circus, not knowing that my boss would be in some (minor) trouble. He then “threatened” to send me to HR or to put a warning in my personal file. Imagine what good this will do to your relationship!

No link between review and pay

People go the performance reviews having the illusion that right there and then or as a result of the outcome of this review, their salary increases will be determined and that anything is negotiable. From personal experience I know this to be far from the truth. Whether you will get an increase in pay or not has already been predetermined by your bosses directed by the company’s policies and market expectations for the next year(s).

Your boss has then to come up with a credible story which ultimately leads to a salary change/promotion or not. To support your boss in coming up with a credible story, a performance appraisal is a great instrument, as it will give your boss almost all the fire power he needs. Believe me when I am saying that a boss can come up with a thousand reasons not to promote you or not to increase your salary, even if you are entitled to both.

What defense do you have if your boss says that you are not pro-active or not enough pro-active? I will tell you straight away: none whatsoever! Or this one: HR policy is that we have to keep promotions company wide at a minimum this year, we will see next year again. You will go to HR? Ha, ha, good luck! Read here why HR probably will not help.

Objectiveness not there

All companies claim that performance appraisals have to be or even will be objective observations by the boss. If this is true, then given time, my reviews from two different bosses would be in agreement on the big points of my evaluations and only slightly differ on minor points. In reality, when two different bosses evaluate you even in objectivenessconsecutive years, more often than not they contradict each other in many ways.

I would submit that an evaluation given by one boss in two consecutive months may greatly differ, depending on the person’s mood and or what happened in the time just before the review.

I have seen that people got a favorable review just because they had a successful undertaking just before the review, never mind their under par performances in the beginning of the year. As a matter of fact, I have watched people use this phenomenon, by doing the bare minimum in the first part of the year, then increasing their efforts greatly in the time prior to the appraisal.

What about this beauty! Your boss tells you that he has a certain opinion about you, which usually is not very favorable and may not be his real opinion, but to support his lame and weak view he claims that he has had conversations with other people in your workplace, who told him the same. And no, he cannot reveal who he has been talking to, they are to remain anonymous. In my thinking this is the most coward attitude I have ever encountered.

Use measurements with same standards?

No two people are the same. Every individual comes with his or hers personal characteristics, flaws, competencies, capabilities and other features. Some need more support than others; some ask for guidance, some want to work by themselves. Like when having more than two children of your own, every single individual still needs a unique approach.performance appraisals

The performance appraisal does not make this distinction between people as in all cases it will be the same dull summary of points against which different people’s performance will be evaluated. It asserts that people have a certain competence and does not focus on what employees are competent to do. This structure supports the boss in looking at similar entities rather than unique individuals.

Teamwork at risk

Many bosses seem to have a much distorted view of teamwork: his people are the team and he will tell them exactly what to do. Thus the boss has effectively placed him or herself outside the team. A performance review amplifies this status by giving the boss all the power and an employee is at the mercy of their boss’s mental state at the time.

Instead of asking how they can improve their teamwork, the boss focuses on how that particular individual can improve his or her activities!

A performance review is the boss’s one-sided view of the employee’s performance and whether his performance was under par or not present, does not get into the equation. If an organization can run effectively only on well established one-on-one relationships between bosses and each individual in their staff, then performance appraisals undermine these relationships hugely.

Employees will never feel they can speak their minds to their bosses, consequently leaving bosses in the dark about their staff.

The corporate improvement myth

Isn’t it said that this yearly carousel of evaluating, reviewing and rating is to contribute to enhanced employee’s performances and thus a better corporate performance? Well, what I have experienced myself and saw in others around me: oh my god, this circus again, they know already what pay rise they can or cannot give you and are now performance appraisalsdirecting your appraisal towards its predetermined outcome anyway.

I know what effect this has on people’s spirit, motivation and they might even become cynical. What I also saw is that your initially highly rated boss conveniently and willingly follows this procedure, goes by the book, hides behind the rules and is just left like a mere manager or less (certainly not a leader!). As a consequence of that people start losing their faith and or respect for their boss or even the company.

I could not help but conclude that by creating such an atmosphere, you really are not going to get the best out of your employees. Their attitude might become one of ‘yeah right’ when your boss comes with another of his great ideas to move forward.

Instead of creating a nice working environment, where people love to go to everyday, they have initiated one of hidden agendas, people working for themselves, doing their jobs like robots and doing just those things that will help them survive, barely.

I do not think that a company, any company, will benefit from this kind of “working” attitude.

Conclusion

For those of you that have never experienced anything untoward with these processes, this might just be a warning to stay alert for the future, because not all bosses and companies are the same. I can assure you that there are people out there who never encountered these problems.

For the majority that unfortunately have been faced with one or more of the facts as mentioned above, I would say that you will certainly not be the only one out there nor the last ones. On the positive side, many other people like myself, have expressed their criticism on the process of these reviews. Some companies have already re-thought their management of yearly pay rises and how to do this in the interest of all parties, however, most other firms need more convincing. As with all good things they will take time, time which you may not have!

Remember that there is an excellent alternative out of this misery and that is to start working for yourself and make sure you get the benefits of your works and not somebody else! Just start working to be your own boss, enlist for a free trial in the best program available, which is Wealthy Affiliate. See my personal review here.