Performance Appraisal: What It Means for Employees and Managers

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Performance appraisal is a crucial process in organizations that evaluates employees’ job performance and provides feedback to help them improve. It serves as a tool to assess employees’ strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and recognize their achievements. The practice of performance appraisal is not just beneficial for employees, but also for managers and the organization as a whole.

The process of conducting performance appraisals is often disliked by managers. Appraisal time is also an uncomfortable and stressful time for both employees and managers requiring careful evaluation and constructive feedback.

Two questions every employee needs answers to are “What is my job?” and “How am I doing?” Regular feedback on these questions is one of the most effective tools an employer uses to increase productivity.

Studies show that providing good feedback to employees can increase productivity by 11 to 20 per cent. The yearly performance appraisals are the best way a company provides feedback to its employees.

The Purpose of Performance Appraisal in Organizations

  1. The primary purpose of performance appraisal in organizations is to assess employees’ job performance and provide constructive feedback. It allows managers to evaluate how well employees are meeting their job responsibilities, achieving their goals, and contributing to the organization’s overall success. 
  2. Additionally, performance appraisal helps identify areas where employees need further development or training, ensuring that their skills align with the organization’s objectives.
  3. Moreover, performance appraisal serves as the basis for making important decisions related to promotions, salary increases, and career development opportunities. 
  4. By having a systematic evaluation process in place, organizations can ensure fairness and transparency in their decision-making. 
  5. Performance appraisal also helps managers identify high-performing employees who can be considered for leadership roles or given additional responsibilities.

How Managers Approach Performance Appraisal

When it comes to performance appraisal, managers play a pivotal role in ensuring its effectiveness. They consider various aspects when conducting performance appraisals. They assess employees’ job knowledge, skills, and abilities, their ability to meet deadlines, and their interpersonal and communication skills. Furthermore, managers evaluate employees’ adherence to organizational values and their overall commitment to the organization’s mission.

Some common tasks that managers take up as a part of the appraisal process are:

  • Decide on the method of appraisal to use.
  • Giving accurate feedback.
  • Motivating the employees if their performance is not up to the mark.
  • Giving feedback without making it look as if they are favouring some employees over others. This would create unease in the work environment.
  • Seeing and evaluating each employee independently to avoid any comparison
  • The correct way of giving feedback, especially a negative one. A well-intentioned decision can be misinterpreted by an employee if not delivered well.
  • Juggling between the welfare of the organisation and the employees.
  • Listening to the employees and taking their point of view in a rational and understanding manner at the same time being able to put their own points forward in a firm way.

The Employee’s Perspective on Performance Appraisal

For employees, performance appraisal can evoke a range of emotions, from anticipation to anxiety. It is a time when their performance and contributions are under scrutiny, and the outcome can have a significant impact on their career progression. It is essential for organisations to create a positive and supportive environment during the appraisal process to alleviate employees’ concerns and make it a valuable experience.

Employees often feel a sense of validation and recognition when their accomplishments are acknowledged during the performance appraisal. It reinforces their confidence and motivates them to continue striving for excellence. On the other hand, if the feedback received is primarily focused on areas needing improvement, employees may feel demotivated and undervalued. Therefore, it is crucial for managers to balance constructive criticism with positive feedback to maintain employees’ morale.

Moreover, employees appreciate when managers take the time to listen to their perspectives during the performance appraisal. It allows them to share any challenges they may be facing, seek guidance, or propose ideas for their professional development. When employees feel heard and understood, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work.

How does the employee feel? Some of the common emotions experienced by employees:

  • A feeling of anxiety and apprehension about the reports.
  • Concern about what colleagues would say about the performance report.
  • Feeling stressed throughout the period.
  • Losing his/her cool with colleagues, family and friends.
  • Preoccupation with the entire process of appraisal and its outcome.
  • Employees whose reports were not up to the mark may feel embittered, dejected, or discouraged – and at times may even get aggressive. This may persist for many weeks after the appraisal.
  • They may also feel that the employees who got a better report were favoured by the management, hence a feeling of jealousy and insecurity.
  • The better performing employees on the other hand may have a feeling of superiority.

How can the appraisal process be more meaningful?

Performance appraisals can be seen as daunting and unhelpful, but they actually have the potential to be beneficial for everyone involved. By considering a few important factors, managers can transform the appraisal process into a valuable experience that helps employees grow and succeed. 

To make the performance appraisal process more meaningful, managers should consider the following approaches:

  • Approach with Empathy

    Managers need to approach the process with empathy, understanding the impact it can have on employees’ motivation and job satisfaction. Managers should create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their performance and receiving feedback.

  • Provide Specific Examples

    Managers should provide specific examples of employees’ achievements or areas needing improvement. This helps employees understand how their performance is perceived and gives them a clear direction for growth. 

  • Encourage Open Communication

    Managers should also encourage open and honest communication, allowing employees to share their perspectives on their performance and discuss any challenges they may be facing.

How Performance Appraisals Can Motivate Employees

Performance appraisals, when conducted effectively, can be a powerful tool for motivating employees. 

  • Recognizing and appreciating employees’ efforts and achievements boosts their morale and encourages them to perform at their best. By setting clear goals and providing feedback on their progress, employees feel a sense of purpose and direction, which contributes to their motivation.
  • Additionally, performance appraisals can serve as a platform for career development discussions. When employees see opportunities for growth and advancement within the organisation, they are more likely to be motivated to enhance their skills and take on new challenges. Managers can use performance appraisal discussions to identify employees’ aspirations and align them with the organization’s goals, fostering a sense of ownership and motivation.
  • It is also important for managers to consider the individual needs and preferences of employees during the performance appraisal process. Some employees may value public recognition, while others may prefer private feedback sessions. By tailoring the appraisal process to meet employees’ preferences, managers can create a more personalized experience that enhances motivation and engagement.

The Role of Feedback in Performance Appraisal

Feedback plays a crucial role in the performance appraisal process. It provides employees with valuable information about their strengths and areas needing improvement, helping them grow and develop professionally. 

During performance appraisal discussions, managers should highlight employees’ achievements and successes, reinforcing positive behaviours. They should also provide guidance on how employees can improve their performance in areas where they may be falling short. Constructive feedback should be delivered in a respectful and supportive manner, emphasizing the potential for growth and development.

Regular feedback throughout the year, rather than solely during the performance appraisal, is essential for employees’ continuous improvement. Managers should establish an open-door policy, encouraging employees to seek feedback and guidance whenever needed. This ongoing feedback creates a culture of learning and development, fostering a sense of trust and partnership between managers and employees.

Is Employee Wellbeing to Blame for Underperformance?

In some cases, underperformance during performance appraisals can be attributed to employee well-being issues. Factors such as stress, burnout, or personal challenges can significantly impact an employee’s ability to perform at their best. It is crucial for managers to consider the holistic well-being of employees when evaluating their performance.

Organizations can support employee well-being by implementing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs provide employees with access to professional support, such as counselling services, mental health resources, and work-life balance initiatives. By prioritizing employee well-being, organizations can create a supportive environment that helps employees overcome challenges and perform at their full potential.

1to1help: India’s Leading Employee Assistance Program

1to1help is India’s leading Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service provider, known for its commitment to quality and integrity, offering a variety of programs and services designed to improve employee well-being and promote a healthy work-life balance. Through 1to1Help’s EAP, organizations can provide employees with access to professional counsellors, confidential support, and resources to enhance their mental health and overall well-being.

By partnering with 1to1help, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and create a supportive culture that values the holistic development of employees.

Performance appraisal is a vital process that benefits both employees and managers in organizations. It provides a platform for evaluating employees’ job performance, setting goals, and recognizing their achievements. 

Appraisal time is certainly not easy on any of the people involved. Yet being able to handle it well is crucial to individual and team development and productivity. By approaching performance appraisal with empathy and understanding, managers can create a supportive environment that motivates employees to excel. Regular feedback, coupled with a focus on employee well-being, contributes to the overall success of the organization. 

1to1help is India’s leading Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service provider with a reputation for quality with integrity. We support organizations to improve employee well-being, through a variety of programmes.

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