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Performance appraisals – should we bother?

I attended an interesting session on Wednesday night with the CIPD entitled ‘Room 101 for the worst in HR, Training and Development’.

The hottest topic of the night was the subject of a formal performance appraisal system and whether we should have them at all. On the plus side of course they allow an employer and employee to set performance goals for the year ahead and, properly used, can be a tool for feeding back criticism in a constructive manner.

It is apparent however that a formal performance appraisal system can stilt interactions between employees and line management – leading to feedback only really being given once a year. Some employees dread them. Reasons given include (i) the formality of the process itself; (ii) the ‘surprises’ that might await; and (iii) the amount of preparation they need to do beforehand (which is sometimes not even referred to in the meeting itself). In my view, one of the problems of a rigid performance appraisal system is that it doesn’t always lend itself well to certain generations. As a member of ‘generation y’ I need feedback on a more regular basis than generation x do. I admit it, I am needy! I live for feedback.

Interestingly more employers are now dumping a formal appraisal system, instead simply relying on regular face to face interactions between employees and their line managers to monitor performance. As a result it is reported that employee satisfaction levels have increased.

Is this the way forward then? Have formal performance appraisal systems had their day? Or actually is it an extremely useful business tool which just needs handled properly? Would be interested in your views… (remember I live for feedback)…

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