Time to Shelve the Performance Appraisal?

Whether we call them performance appraisals, reviews, feedback or the current trending term, ‘check-ins’ every organisation has its own process of identifying, measuring, and developing an employee’s performance and aligning them with the organisation’s strategic goals. But are they effective? Are they helping employees not just meet expectations but exceed them?

Historically performance appraisals were based on military style feedback, a power relationship with the superior giving the subordinate a one-way monologue on what they were doing wrong, and right occasionally. Today organisations have evolved from the one way monologue and large global corporates like GE, Netflix, and Accenture have all but shelved their performance appraisal processes.

Many organisations find their current process ineffective, due to factors including infrequency of the review, lack of follow up, or the process driven approach which often turns into a box ticking, paper trail exercise. In addition the negative connotations surrounding performance appraisals can make them a stressful experience for both parties and measures and rankings can lead to destructive internal competition. Unfortunately the success of the process primarily depends upon the ability of the manager conducting the review and often the inability or lack of skill to provide constructive feedback will do more damage than good.

So should organisations shelve performance appraisals?

In research and a small survey conducted with our clients in 2016, WCA has found that most organisations believe their current performance appraisal process is partially effective. Instead of discarding it completely, organisations can innovate within their current framework and focus on simplifying the process to ensure a conversation is the focus. The following are recommended changes your organisation can make to achieve a more effective appraisal process:

  1.     Agree on the core purpose

Ensure all Managers are clear on what the core purpose of the appraisal process and the tangible benefits.

 2.     Introduce frequent feedback

Shift the focus to a continuous feedback model and supplement with a formal annual or bi annual reviews. Conduct more frequent catch ups or check-ins with your employees to consolidate and provide real-time feedback.

 3.     Remove unnecessary  process

Whether it is removing rankings and rating or excessive paperwork making the process intuitive, and to fit your organisation’s requirements will allow the conversation to become the focal point.

 4.     Coach not assess employees

Coaching can unlock a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them. By providing managers with skills to coach employees and not just assess, the focus will be helping employee’s move positively forward.

Performance appraisals are still relevant but to make them effective in your organisation simplify the process to fit your organisation, and train and develop capable managers to manage what matters.

Contact WCA- People & Culture Solutions if you require any assistance with managing your Industrial Relations and/ or general Human Resources on (08) 9383 3293 or

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