Appraisals, Why bother?

Early February I had a meeting with a HR Manager who was talking in general about what was happening within the business.   He excitedly spoke about new projects, existing projects, new training initiatives, people problems and in the same breathe he mentioned the word “appraisals”  and his body language instantly changed.   He said that the appraisal deadline for managers to return the completed appraisals was the end of March.   I enquired about the likelihood of this happening and his response was in the years that he’d been with the company, HR had always struggled to get the appraisals in on time.    I asked him what his team did with the appraisals when they were eventually received and his response was “depending on workloads and resources the very least we would do is have a quick review of them, which means someone within HR looking through the forms for anything obviously incorrect. And, the best we would do was to upload the information manually to an Excel spreadsheet which obviously in a company of 500+ was time-consuming”.

The Resource Stealer

“What do you do with the spreadsheet?” I asked and his reply was “little to nothing”. I then asked why bother with the appraisal process? He looked horrified and then answered “it’s a bit of a security blanket and it’s a tick in the box for HR and an accepted KPI for their success”.   I followed this up with “what is the general consensus from the managers, the appraisers and the staff?”    He responsed the feedback that he had received was that it was Ok and reasonably well received.

Fact vs fiction

Following this I spoke to one of Bute Learning and Development’s (our sister company) trainers (a company that I have close ties with and who had been delivering development programmes (not appraisal training) within the IMG_9898messageboard_motivateScompany for a couple of years).   I asked the primary trainer who had been delivering there for the previous 18 months if she had ever received feedback from the guests on the workshop with regard to appraisals and she had said “funnily enough that they were whingeing and moaning that it was appraisal season again and why bother as nothing ever came out of the appraisals, except unmet promises”.   Not the same as the HR Manager believed.

From working in learning and development and visiting many companies in different industries and different sectors I think that this is potentially the norm. So why do businesses and HR continue year after year rolling out appraisals?   When done properly appraisals are a resource drain and when done half-heartedly they demotivate all involved.

I could potentially insult your intelligence, experience and knowledge by giving you 7 to 10 top tips on bringing in a super duper new appraisal process or what to do to rejuvenate your current process, however I’m not going to.

I’m just going to suggest that if you can, change two things…
understand the objective(s) of the Appraisal process and ensure your Managers have the authority to execute on the Appraisal promises.

Changing Attitudes | Influencing Behaviours | Impacting Outcomes…


Margo Manning is Managing Director of Bute Learning and Development and Margo Manning Ltd. Margo is a professional speaker and is an Executive Coach. Margo works with Managers and Leaders to move them from static performance to high performance.  She works with her clients to Drive Success Through Performance.

Margo has been in the development arena for 20 years and more specifically in coaching for 11 of those.  Margo has worked with companies such as UBS, Goldman Sachs, AON, Balfour Beatty, Brunswick LLP, BBMV, Tower Hamlets Homes to name a few.