Appraisals are a waste of time

Dec 03 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

December is the start of the annual appraisal season, an opportunity for managers to spend a bit of quality with their workers, right? Wrong.

Most British workers will certainly leave their appraisal fired up and motivated, but only to look for a new job, new research from workplace and HR body Investors in People has concluded.

Nearly half of those who had an appraisal did not trust their managers to be honest during it, with a third dismissing the annual chat as a waste of time and a fifth leaving it feeling they had been unfairly treated.

The poll of nearly 3,000 workers also found a quarter who had had an appraisal suspected their managers simply saw the annual review as a "tick-box" exercise.

And a fifth complained managers rarely prepared for the meeting in advance Ė a key bit of advice you'll always get in appraisal training Ė and did not even think about it until they were actually sat down in the room.

While four out of 10 employees who received appraisals thought they were a useful assessment of progress, very few had any faith in their manager taking action on what they had talked about.

Just a fifth believed their manager would always act on what was discussed, with a similar percentage saying their boss rarely or never bothered to follow-up on their concerns.

A third believed that although their appraisal was helpful, they would prefer to get more regular feedback.

And a lack of feedback throughout the rest of the year could explain why 40 per cent had been surprised at what they heard in their appraisal, said Investors in People.

Simon Jones, the organisation's acting chief executive, said: "It is encouraging that many people now receive an annual review and the research suggests that they find the feedback useful.

"But, it is also a concern that some managers may be letting down their employees by failing to give full and frank feedback," he added.

Annual reviews could be beneficial to both employer and employee, particularly in identifying areas for development and generating motivation and engagement.

"However, many of these benefits will be lost if managers avoid difficult issues and hold things back," said Jones.

"Employees are not just after honest, but also regular, feedback throughout the year so there aren't any big surprises when it comes to the annual review.

"Appraisals should always cover both past performance and objectives, but equally important are discussions of future targets and opportunities," he added.

"It's a great chance for managers to make sure their employees feel challenged and valued for the year ahead, rather than unmotivated and without guidance," Jones concluded.

The research also found that more than half of those working in organisations with fewer than 250 employees had had a regular annual review.

By contrast, eight out of 10 of those employed at companies with more than 250 employees received annual reviews.


Older Comments

Even from the authors own words, the title is wrong. The article does not appear to be a commentry on the effectiveness or otherwise of the appraisal system but rather on the effectiveness or otherwise of todays managers. Most people in recent surveys on the bigest problem facing business today is the poor quality of management. This discussion suppports that concept far more than is comments on an appraisal system.

shirley Australia