Appraisal nightmares

Sep 26 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Two-thirds of employees say things that they later regret during appraisal by their bosses, with many loosing their temper when criticised or blaming others for their poor performance.

A survey by secretarial recruitment company Office Angels found that appraisal blunders include employees blaming their own poor team-working skills on the incompetence of colleagues, responding with "I'm only human" when criticised, saying they were bored with their job, losing their temper when criticised or telling their boss that their aim in the next six months is to "get a pay rise to buy a new car or flat".

Office Angels also found that staff appraisals took an average of five hours per employee and cost firms £900 per person.

Although many business gurus dismiss appraisals as a waste of time, UK managers are firmly wedded to them. Seventy per cent of the UK's largest employers appraise staff once a year, although many appraise new staff, or those who under-perform, more frequently.

Peter Scholtes described appraisal as 'inherently the wrong thing to do', while Tom Peters once said it was 'the number one American management problem'.

Nevertheless, most managers in the UK believe that appraisals play a vital role in developing the skills of their workforce. But research carried out earlier this year found that nearly half think that appraisals are often badly conducted.

Paul Jacobs, managing director of Office Angels, says: "Appraisals should provide the spotlight for open and honest discussion and constructive feedback. However, those being reviewed need to spend time thinking about how they can use this opportunity to take them close to their future goals."

To get the most out of an appraisal, Office Angles suggest that workers keep a record of their achievements, make positive suggestions on how their performance could be improved and be prepared for criticism.

But Kate Everall, Managing Director of communication specialists Kae Consulting, stresses that an appraisal will only be effective if managers have the right skills to carry it out.

"Done well, the exercise builds confidence, renews enthusiasm and generates trust," she says. "Done poorly, it de-motivates and destroys.

"Generating high quality relevant feedback from within the individual is the key to learning and improvement in a performance review. The worst feedback is personal and judgemental."