When the performance appraisal drives performance

In a surprising result, for those that continue to ring the death knell of performance appraisals, 50% of our respondents said “yes, performance appraisals drive my performance”.

The truth of this result is not as simple as that of course.

So when does the performance appraisal drive performance? When the appraisal is not just a stand-alone box to tick, but rather when it is part of an overall programme of continual feedback and improvement. When there is:

1. Two-way conversation. “If done correctly they can be a great tool and provide a great opportunity for a meaningful conversation around performance.”

2. No surprises. “Performance reviews should not be a once a year process. It is about setting the right expectations, and providing the coaching and support, to set people up for success. The review is just about summarising performance for a given period, with no surprises.”

3. Action plan and follow up. “I think appraisals are a good way to monitor performance and motivate employees to improve their performance in a number of domains. It provides an opportunity for the employee to state clearly their assessment of their performance in the presence of their immediate supervisor. In areas identified as needing to improve these can be documented and time lined to be reviewed at a later date. It is an opportunity to strive for better performance in to the future!”

Unfortunately, for the other half of our respondents, the performance appraisal is something to dread. And looks a lot like what we saw in last week’s Dilbert cartoons, where the performance appraisal is:

1. Only personality based. “My last performance appraisal was based on personality, my soon ‘to be leaving the company’ boss bases all of our department’s appraisals on personality. And yes, this is disgraceful.”

2. Only negatives. “My manager saves up something that I have done wrong and brings it up at the appraisal meeting. He seems to think an appraisal must be all about criticism and gives very little positive feedback.”

3. A time-consuming process. “I dread having to carefully phrase everything I have accomplished in the previous 6-12 months. I dread writing performance reviews for my team due to the hours it takes to sum up ones’ value in a few paragraphs and scores.”

So what can you do if your performance appraisal looks like something from an episode of The Office? Here are 7 top tips of dealing with a bad performance appraisal, courtesy of careerbright.com:

1. The first advice: do not react on impulse! – Try not to take in the criticism unreasonably (of course easier said than done, but since you are reading this tip, you can implement it too).

2. The second step: Cool Down and Get Ready – A second opinion and a second look might clarify things more than how you have been looking at it so far.

3. Initiate further Meetings to Clarify Review – Contact your boss to talk to him personally on the performance review. Not over phone or Email but a face to face meeting is recommended to initiate clarifications on the review. In this review try not to be on the defensive and do not let emotions overcome you.

4. Discussing with your Boss – Make sure that there was no miscommunication towards expectations put upfront. Is the assessment / review based on the goals put forward at the beginning of the year, or were there some expectations you were truly unaware of?

5. Paraphrase the Accusations – Spend time with your boss to clarify the accusations and also ask for specific instances where you have been accused of negligence or poor performance.

6. Follow-up on the Meeting – If you and your boss are reaching arbitration on re-evaluating the performance review, ask your boss to schedule a quick follow-up meeting within a week or so.

7. Don’t think of Quitting on one Bad Performance Review – A bad review does not mean it is time for you to start looking for a new job. Analyse the situation and see if there are some valid points perhaps you can do your best to perform better next time.


Haven’t had your say, please feel free to comment below. Our latest poll is now live, and asks the question, ‘….’

Do you need to get results, resolve a conflict, or develop an action plan? Using a Challenge Facilitator will maximise your desired results and investment. For more information click here.