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For businesses appraisals are essential in managing and evaluating their staff, they help to develop the individuals within the business, improve the performance of the organisation, and also help with business planning. �Appraisals regularly record an assessment of an employee�s performance, potential and development needs. The appraisal is an opportunity to take an overall view of work content, loads of volume, to look back on what has been achieved during the reporting period and agree objectives for the next� ( ACAS 1994 cited in Foot and Hook 1996). The above definition shows that employees receive feedback regarding their performance, but also shows that that an appraisal is an opportunity to assess all of the different aspects of an employees work performance by looking at their how they have performed in the past and agreeing on future objectives. Fletcher and Williams (1985) have suggested that that the word �appraisal� is also used in another way. When we appraise people we try to help them to improve on their performance as well as judge them. We could make suggestions or provide developmental opportunities that will help employees improve their performance. Therefore the appraisal is about giving employees feedback but also involves the appraiser in being both judge and helper to an employee. (Cited in Foot and Hook 1996)
Recent investigations have shown that that practice of appraisals seems to be increasing, for example there has been an increase in the use of appraisals for supervisors, clinical/secretarial staff and skill/semi skilled staff. (Goss 1994). There are many advantages of having an appraisal system in practice as it means that the appraiser and appraise are forced to meet formally, it makes it clear to the employer what is expected of them, targets can be set and agreed upon, valuable feedback can be received by both the employer and the employee, and managers can learn what the employee is doing, rather than what they think the employer is doing. (Maund 2001)
It has been suggested by Randell et al (1984) that there are there are three main uses for appraisal schemes. Which are performance, potential and reward. Managers want to review the past performance of individuals and assess strengths, level of effort and any areas where development may be useful. This is done by focusing on what the employee has done in the past and building on the employees strengths and make improvements in areas where it is needed allowing the employee to perform more effectively in the future. Although many managers will argue that they give this sort on feedback to their staff regularly and informally and so there is no need for a formal appraisal, it is unlikely that all managers in an organisation will do this constantly and affectively. Without a formal system and proper training, managers may be appraising infrequently or not at all or not appraising fairly so a formal appraisal system is necessary. Employers also use staff appraisals to identify individuals who may have the potential to take up new roles with more responsibility. Appraisals can also be used to try and reward employees for their past work, while hoping that this will encourage others in the organisation to work harder in the future. (Foot and Hook 1996).
Therefore appraisals can be seen as being vital in managing the performance of people and organisations. However although the reasons discussed above show the importance of staff appraisals in organisations there are also many problems that are associated with them. This could be because many organisations try to get too much from one appraisal scheme and try to fulfill all purposes with this one scheme. This is not likely to work and instead the scheme could fall into disrepute. There are a number of problems which may stop the appraisal from being as affective as it should be. This could include the organisation not being clear about the purpose of the appraisal system, instead trying to use it for too many different purposes with it. Other reasons include, links with pay stopping open discussion of problems where improvement can be made, employers keeping information secret from the employee, the appraiser attacking the appraises character, being too subjective in arguments or using the appraisal as part of the disciplinary process. . (Foot and Hook 1996).
As said before most appraisals fall into one of three different categories, these include performance potential and reward. An organisation should not try and fulfil all of these categories using one appraisal scheme. Appraisals focus on what has been achieved and what needs to be done to improve it. The problem is that many employers try to make performance appraisals do too many things, which makes it complicated. (Maund 2001). It should be clear what the appraisal is trying to achieve and this should be communicated with everyone. Therefore for an appraisal to be affective everyone must know what is trying to be achieved. It is recommended that employers should try and keep reward separate from other areas of appraisal. When pay and appraisal are closely linked, the issue of pay may take the focus away from all the other important purposes of appraisals. (Goss 1994)
To help employees with their job performance it is important to be honest with them so they should know about the judgements that have been made about them and they should receive feedback about these. Things should not be kept secret from employees as this could make them feel that their appraiser was dishonest with them. This is shown in the BBC article where 44% believed their appraiser had been dishonest with them, which therefore could be a reason why the appraisals were seen to be a waste of time. Another main problem with appraisals that stops them from being affective is that a lot of managers dislike them and so hate conducting them. Appraisals should give employees feedback on how they have been performing and should set goals for the future. However this is not possible if people dislike them and want to avoid them. Studies show that if you�re in a bad mood which it seems people are during their review meetings they are not open to criticism and suggestions. Therefore people are not in the mood to make plans for their future growth and development. �Managers cite performance appraisals or annual reviews as one of their most disliked tasks� (Human resource management)
A lot of people describe appraisals as time consuming and hard to do. They see the process as a difficult administrative task and quite emotional. This could be because the appraiser and appraise might not meet very regularly, in fact an appraisal could be the only time that they meet for a discussion. This can make the appraisals stressful which means they are not as effective as they would have been if the people were more relaxed. Appraisals can be much easier and more relaxed, if the people meet more regularly for discussions, as these regular discussions would make it easier because people then are familiar with each other and trust each other which can reduce allot of the stress. Appraisals can be a lot easier when people talk well and know each other.
Another reason why people might not look forward to being appraised could be because people find it hard to take criticism about their hard work. However if appraisals are conducted well a lot can be gained. Constructive criticism can help us improve our performance in the job we do but also can help us to make decisions about the skills we need to develop in order to develop in our future careers.
Many of these negative attitudes towards appraisals are likely to be because they are not conducted properly. If appraisals are not working people should consider whether the person conducting them is properly trained, and that the purpose of the appraisal is explained and agreed. Appraisals should not be closed-door meetings where the employer only brings out the employees' faults. . �Research into British workers found a quarter of respondents thought managers simply regarded the reviews as a "tick-box" exercise, while one in five accused their bosses of not even thinking about the appraisal until they were in the room�. ( Michael Holden 2007). If appraisals are conducted properly, they can help managers build better relationships with the staff members. People do not have so much time to talk together these days, appraisals offer this face to face conversation time. �Many said they would prefer more regular feedback, which might explain why 40 per cent said they had been surprised at what they were told during an appraisal, said Investors in People, the organisation that commissioned the survey�. ( Michael Holden 2007)
Another reason why people may see appraisals as being a waste of time may be because they are often rushed. Appraisals need extra work from both the appraise and the appraiser which they may not be prepared to do, and if so the appraisal will just be a quick meeting with a few comments from the appraiser and appraise. (Maund 2001). If Appraisals are not prepared for properly and instead are rushed the whole process is useless.
There are many different ways of conducting appraisals and if conducted properly they can all be quite affective. Managers need to be guided and trained in how to conduct appraisals properly. This will help managers develop methods that work for them. During an appraisal it is important to look out for 'negative attitudes towards appraisals from managers, as if a manager dislikes conducting appraisals, usually because they are uncomfortable and not experienced in conducting them. This attitude and behaviour can then be passed down to their appraises, who then not surprisingly also apply the same negative attitude towards appraisals. (Business Balls)
If appraisals are conducted without the right training for managers who do need it, and are conducted poorly, they will not be affective and so are a waste of everyone's time therefore it is likely that in the performance appraisals talked about in the BBC Self Appraisals article have not been conducted properly, possibly with no training whatsoever and also with a negative attitude from the appraiser which has then been passed down to the appraise. If the self appraisals had been well prepared for and well conducted they would provide opportunities to help appraises and managers improve and develop, and can also help the organisations that they work for.