Why Do Performance Appraisals?

My almost three year old has just learned to ask the question, “Why?”

He loves it, and uses it ALL the time.

For example, I’ll say, “Don’t climb on that.”

“Why?” He asks as he continues to do it.

Or he says, “Mommy, where is the moon?”

“In the sky,” I’ll say.

“Why?” he asks.

“Because it’s in space.”

“Why?” he asks again.

It can go on forever, and quite often I have no idea how to answer his “Why?”

I think too often we neglect to ask “Why?” when it comes to evaluating employee performance or any other talent management process for that matter.   Yet in anything we do related to talent management and leading others, we might be able to learn a thing or two from a toddler. We need to constantly be asking ourselves, “Why are we doing this?”

In working on a couple of performance evaluation projects this fall, I have to constantly remind myself and my clients about the “why” of performance appraisal. There are two real “whys” in evaluating employee performance, each of which is very different.

Brannick, Levine and Morgeson (2007) explain these two reasons in Job and Work Analysis:

  1. “To support administrative rewards and punishments for past performance”
  2. “To improve performance through feedback (coaching).”

They go on to note, “It is unlikely that one appraisal system can achieve both administrative and performance improvement goals as well.”

Are you going through the motions of an appraisal process because its just one of those things you do annually, or are you doing it for the reasons above? If you are doing it for administrative and feedback purposes, realize that separating these two process can help you meet maximize results in achieving your “Why?”

Read more about this topic from Horizon Point here:

A Performance Development Tool for Servant Leaders This post includes some sample employee evaluation and development tools that separate the administrative function of evaluation from the development function.

Mary Ila Ward

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