Employee A: Hey! It’s Performance Appraisal time now. Are you looking forward to discussing your performance with the manager?
Employee B: Argh! I hate them. It’s just a yearly activity with no positive results.
Employee A: Oh Why? I thought it would be great to know how well we have done and whether we will be rewarded?
Employee B: I guess you being new to the organization feel that way. However, it’s just a general discussion where your manager will talk about your areas of strength overshadowing it with a list of weaknesses. And, the rewards are so measly – let’s not even talk about it!
Let’s face it, not every employee looks forward to the yearly performance appraisal. Yes, performance appraisals should ideally be beneficial for the employees, but its very approach is the main reason why employees greatly dislike it.
Here are the Reasons Why Employees Hate Performance Appraisals
Most of the performance appraisals done today are an annual affair, limited in scope to decide who should be given an increment and who should be sacked. Organisations often execute these as a one-sided process required to be ticked off the list without providing any concrete benefits to the employees.
Therefore, employees loathe this process, especially when their concerns continue to remain unheard and unaddressed.
1. It creates an atmosphere of high anxiety and stress
Not everybody likes having their flaws pointed out.
Even though several studies reveal that people desire and appreciate receiving feedback, the flip side is that they admire feedback only if it is positive.
When you receive feedback that challenges your performance level, it is quite natural to go into a defensive mode, for it makes you feel anxious, irked, and withdrawn. And when the entire feedback is collated and shared at the end of the year, employees are bound to show aversion to it.
Being oblivious is inevitably going to make the employees feel nervous and stressed. It is even more demotivating when the outcome of the performance appraisal is linked to monetary compensation. Things become more sensitive when the manager’s discretion decides the increment for an employee.
The Solution – Share balanced feedback with the employees regularly and articulately so that they know what to anticipate and prepare themselves better to deal with it without any resistance.
Managers bring their own biases and subjective notions to the process of appraisal. These preconceptions invariably skew the actual results, which should have been originally based on objective parameters. The biased feedback makes the employees lose faith in the system and view the whole performance appraisal process as unreliable or unfair.
At times, managers tend to go off the tangent and start to get personal with their subordinates, evaluating their characteristics and behaviour instead of their work performance. The appraisal session thus carried out blurs the line between the employee’s character and achievements and takes away from them the due credit for their work.
The Solution – Managers should have frequent conversations with their team to reduce bias. They should collaborate with their team to set achievable goals by providing constructive feedback.
3. Out of Touch
Employees feel that they are completely out-of-touch with their managers and, therefore, do not feel comfortable opening up. Most of the performance appraisals are done annually, bi-annually, or quarterly. However, today’s workforce desires a system of continuous feedback, where they get clear feedback which could help them perform better.
For instance, you get constructive feedback during a performance appraisal that you need to improve your communication skills. You would have been more open to receiving this feedback had your manager cared to arrange a one-on-one meeting earlier to tell you that your communication skills need to be worked on instead of waiting for the annual appraisals to bring up this issue.
When a manager starts throwing his direct reportees off with their weaknesses during the appraisals, they start feeling negative and withdrawn.
The Solution – The employees will show greater acceptance if the manager maintains constant touch with them and frequently shares constructive feedback on their performance and areas of improvement.
4. They do not Involve Professional Development
An important aspect that is missing in performance appraisal is offering professional development, training, and guidance to overcome one’s weaknesses or work on the improvement areas.
If an organisation expects its employees to excel at work and be productive, it needs to offer them the right tools to meet the predefined standards of performance. Just citing their weaknesses without guiding them on how to improve affects them adversely.
The Solution – Performance reviews should be viewed as the best way to analyse performance and offer training, guidance, mentorship from leaders, and entail feedback on how to keep growing in the professional sphere. The employees should focus on the future rather than dwell on the past.
5. Not Being Heard
67% of employees don’t feel they are even heard during reviews, according to a survey.
Even if the management touches upon the concerns during review conversations, they do not bother to address them post the session. This leads to stagnancy and loss of interest among the employees in sticking around with the company.
Most of the time, an employee is afraid of expressing his concerns and opinions in fear of coming across as a complainer.
The Solution – Performance appraisals should involve active listening to the employee’s concerns and hardships rather than being a one-way communication channel.
6. Too Formal and Bureaucratic
Typically performance appraisal process follows a stringent pattern in a rather formal setup. Managers are forced to deliver bad news along with good news, followed by a formal exchange of backhanded compliments.
The protocol and the compulsion to adhere to a formal process makes the entire discussion feel mechanical and forced. This is why all the stakeholders in the process, be it the employees, managers, or the HR, want to get done with the appraisal process without putting in any thoughts on how to maximise its true potential.
The Solution – Performance Appraisals should be a mixture of light-heartedness along with formality. A one-to-one interaction may help to understand why the employee/s could not perform efficiently. Also, a mutual agreement emphasizing on the potential of the employee can lead to improvement at work.
7. It’s Extra Work
Everyone in an organisation has pressing tasks to finish and tight deadlines to meet. The annual review invariably gets in the way of completing other priority tasks. The appraisals bring along extra work for the managers, who have a lot to prepare before the sessions, and the employees, who need to fill out various forms and write comments either in the Performance Management System or in writing.
Some performance reviews are so complicated that they require the employees to fill out forms comprising questions or assessments running up to several pages in an attempt to address every aspect of their performance. The lengthy paperwork puts off the employees who end up prioritising other tasks over the performance review.
The Solution – The Annual Review can be kept 3-4 times a year and can be shorter with immediate feedback. Also, the automation of this process can be used to ensure effective appraisals!
8. Unauthentic Feedback
Giving feedback is an art that involves mastering communication. It requires a great deal of maturity and genuine interest in the employee’s growth to state the facts as they are.
Perhaps, the biggest reason why employees hate performance reviews is that their managers deliver them without any genuine interest or useful evaluation, which could help them grow professionally. With a lack of quality feedback in the routine process, it is inevitable for the employees to lose interest and view the appraisal as a mere activity to check off the to-do list.
The Solution – The feedback provided should offer a better sense of employees’ strengths and weaknesses without undermining their abilities.
Make Performance Appraisal Less Painful
Performance reviews need not be a process that feels like a trip to the dentist involving a painful root canal procedure.
You can make it feel less tedious for the employees by making it a continuous process that meets their needs and makes them feel valued.
Great comments! I have always hated performance reviews to such a state in the public service that I refused, with the support of my trade union, to receive bonuses or salary increases as a result of grovelling assurances that I would be a ‘good boy’ and no I am not suffering from the Dunning Krueger effect! . John Young (Australia)