Performance Appraisal - Like it or Hate it

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At the workplace, we are asked to do performance appraisals once a year to assess our performance and identify areas we need to work on to become even better. Though it is one of the things I least like, I have to do it because it is usually the basis of our extra compensation, bonus or salary increase. No Performance Appraisal, No Bonus, they say!

Three reasons I don’t like it.

1) It is very subjective. What if I offended the boss prior to his evaluation? What if I killed his favourite dog on that day? What if I showered saliva on his coffee that morning? Even if he is the best person in the world who swore on his mother’s grave to be as objective as possible, he will still get affected by his emotions. After all, we are emotional beings and we can’t just totally turn our emotions off. Performance appraisals have some number equivalent on every item, but the basis of rating 3 or 3.5 or 4 is basically debatable. I remember asking my ‘Rater’ “can you tell me why you gave 3 (good performer) and not 5 for this item?” His answer was “Because that’s the rating I gave to everyone!” So, my performance is dependent on other people’s rating? Of course, I didn’t argue with him. It will just be a pointless discussion. Unless every part of the appraisal is backed by an objective evidence, it will always be subjective.

2) It is like a double edged sword. If it’s too good to be true, it might create “bloating” in my head. If it’s too harsh and worse than what I expected, it might burst the little bubble of confidence I have left in myself. What if the boss only remembers the extremes of what I’ve done? What about those little good things I’ve done that he might not be aware of? Or should I blow my horn to let him know every time I do something?

3) It is just ridiculous. If it’s meant to help the employee, it has to be done more frequently. That way, it would address the recent successes and lapses. Since it’s mainly for monetary purposes, the goal to empower the employee becomes a second priority.

If only Performance Appraisals were done to provide helpful feedbacks to employees, to really appraise their performance, it would have been more sensible. I know, bonus is still something “sensible.” But there are more important things that don’t have a monetary value.

Feedback can be painful to take in like a vaccine that stings. But its discomfort is only at the beginning; the pain vanishes with time while its benefit remains. Feedback is more effective if you give it fresh than when you give it a year later. It is also beneficial if you give it more frequently and in an encouraging way rather than as one big bulk as if you unloaded the burden you’ve accumulated for a long time. The employee might have forgotten about them already. To remind him after a year would be as bad as taking off an old scab. It could be traumatic for the person and would give him an impression than his boss only wanted him to fail.

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter what you feel towards a Performance Appraisal. If you like it, then it’s great. If you hate it… nobody cares! Whether you like it or not, you have no choice but to just do it. Unless, you don’t want a bonus!

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