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The end-of-year appraisal: How does it rate?

The end-of-year appraisal will feel like a permanent fixture on the organisational calendar for many people. It rolls around as surely as colleagues enthusiastically discussing their summer holiday plans and the unenthusiastically-attended corporate Town Hall event. A ‘sit-down’ appraisal with a manager will round out the year as predictably as night follows day.


Of course, the regular, ingrained expectation of its appearance says nothing about its effectiveness as a tool to guide and boost employee performance. Indeed, there is increasing research and feedback which suggests that, far from being an essential lynchpin of the performance management process, it can often be the object of ambivalence or even out-and-out negativity from the parties involved.


BlessingWhite’s research report – “Performance Management: Assess or Unleash” – found that a majority of employees had a negative view of the process – ranging from a response of “don’t care” through to a stated “dread” about the whole idea. In total, 52% of those surveyed said they have a fairly negative perception of the review process, compared to just 37% with an overall positive perception.


At the same time, the BlessingWhite research found that this negativity towards the process reduced in respondents higher up an organisation – with 44% managers saying they had an overall positive impression of their own appraisals with employees. This might not sound surprising of course – it is, after all, them doing the appraising, rather than taking feedback. Managers were also found to find the whole process less stressful, with 61% saying they actively looked forward to providing feedback during these appraisals.


What can be seen from the data is that many managers clearly treat the end-of-year appraisal as their opportunity to discuss performance – both in terms of commending good performance and discussing potential issues in some depth. At the same time, employees appear to consider this experience as far less useful – perhaps because the process of being judged in a single annual session is too stressful, or maybe because it simply does not appear to have much impact on their day-to-day work. This disconnect, in particular, can be a real challenge for managers and organisations – leading to suggestions that a broader and more involved performance management system is needed to properly connect an individual’s contribution with the organisation’s wider aims.


What is your view of the end-of-year appraisal?  

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