Are managers good at appraisals?

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Series Performance Management

Statement

People are not very good observers. It might therefore be better that managers are not responsible to assess their staff’s performance.

Facts

Performing an appraisal is quite a challenge: you must be able to observe well, being able to distinguish between significant and non-significant matters, weigh the performance observations and must be able to give valuable feedback. Mistakes and oversights are easily made. A meta-study showed a huge difference between how managers judge their staff’s performance compared to objective qualitative and quantitative performance outcomes. Another study found that about 62% of the variation in these perceptions can be contributed to assessment mistakes.

Is it possible to train managers to improve their appraisal skills? Fortunately, that is possible according to research. Management training focussed on using a clear performance measurement framework improves the quality of their appraisals. This is more effective than trying to change managers’ cognitive biases.

Conclusion

Managers are certainly not perfect in performing appraisals. Having underlying objective and quantitative criteria available for appraisals certainly helps. However, this is not always available. Given their role and position, managers are best placed to perform appraisals, no use asking others or the employee to do the appraisal, but additional training in conjunction with a clear performance measurement scoring framework is definitely useful.

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