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Functions of a Performance Appraisal

Here is [the Awkward Performance Review](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdp4sPviV74) video mentioned at 1:37 in the Functions of a Performance Apprai
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To attain full alignment between goals, behaviors, and rewards, we need to give people feedback on how they’re doing with respect to those goals. If they’re doing well, they would appreciate a reward and a pat on the back. If we’re not doing well, we would appreciate an opportunity to adjust. Many companies use performance appraisals as a structured opportunity to have this conversation between managers and employees. Whenever I talk to executives, a lot of them consider performance appraisals to be an absolutely vital component of their jobs. But I’ve also yet to meet an executive that would truly enjoy giving performance appraisals. One of the reasons for this is that as human beings we’re inherently reluctant to give critical, negative feedback.
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We want to be liked, and you don’t get liked by giving negative feedback. We don’t like to receive negative feedback either. When we ask for feedback we’re not actually asking for feedback, we’re asking for affirmation. And so you can see that conducting performance appraisals can be quite challenging. And so I would like for us to begin to understand some of the key challenges that permeate performance appraisals, and understand how to overcome those hurdles. I’ll show you a video where you’ll see a supervisor and an employee preparing for a performance appraisal. Watch this video, and following that video I’ll ask you to evaluate the effectiveness of the forthcoming performance appraisal.
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Rate your level of agreement with the following statement, the performance appraisal review of Matt will be effective, from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree.
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Now when I ask you this question, how did you approach answering that question? What criteria did you use to evaluate the effectiveness of this forthcoming performance appraisal?
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One way to think about answering this question is to look at the key functions of a performance appraisal, which are to evaluate, to develop, and to motivate. Lets look at evaluation. Will Melanie and Matt reach an agreement on the evaluation of Matt’s performance? This is highly unlikely because they’re so far apart in their understanding of Matt’s performance before the performance appraisal.
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Development. Will Matt walk away with a clear development plan? One of the challenges in performance appraisals lies precisely in the coupling of evaluation and development in the same session. What happens is when we receive critical feedback in a tough performance appraisal, we often activate defensive routines. It’s a self protection mechanism. We stop listening. That’s how we protect our ego, our self esteem. Now, think about the situation. You’re just given critical feedback to one of your employees, and then you need to work on a development plan. But at that point, your employee’s not listening to you anymore, they’ve shut down. So one of the most effective things you can do in a performance appraisal is to temporally separate evaluation from development.
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What I mean by this is instead of scheduling one meeting, schedule two meetings, perhaps shorter ones, and be very clear about the purpose of each. So for the first meeting, you can say, look, we can evaluate your performance and in the next meeting we’ll talk about the ways to maximize your leadership potential. By the second meeting emotions would have subsided and you will have a much calmer conversation. So coming back to the development objective. Will Matt walk away with a clear development plan? Again, that’s unlikely because given the amount of negative feedback Matt will receive, it is very unlikely that Matt will engage in a thoughtful dialogue about a development plan, and listen to her supervisor.
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And as a result, it’s also extremely unlikely that Matt will leave this entire conversation more motivated. So in this session we’re beginning to scratch the surface in terms of the key challenges that permeate performance appraisals. And we’ll continue this discussion in the next segment.
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