The perceptions, needs and expectations that management and staff have of performance appraisals often do not coincide. Henri Louw says that in order to get buy-in from all stakeholders, we should incorporate the expectations of both managers and non-managers in the design of a performance appraisal system. He includes a questionnaire that we can use to design performance appraisal systems that meets everyone’s needs.
by Henri Louw
The design of performance appraisals is probably one of the most hotly discussed human resource topics of all time. Ever since the introduction of performance measurement in a work context, the term performance appraisal has caused tempers to flair, blood pressures to spiral out of control and often lead to violent altercations between managers and employees. The perceptions, needs and expectations that management and staff have of performance appraisals often do not coincide, leaving either party, and often both parties, disenchanted and disillusioned by a cumbersome system that is impractical and time consuming, as generally, performance appraisal systems only meet the needs of managers.
The design and structure of the performance appraisal system is important to both staff and management. It is globally recognised that performance appraisals should be to the advantage of managers and employees, but few systems, if any, involve both these stakeholders in the design of the system.
The needs and expectations that management and employees have of performance appraisals (and performance appraisals systems) should be aligned when the system is designed. Furthermore, every element of the performance appraisal’s design must be considered carefully, as the needs and expectations that staff and management have of each element will impact on the level of buy-in (from all stakeholders), as well as the credibility of the system in its entirety.
Obtaining employee input
I compiled a questionnaire to aid human resource practitioners in designing organisation-specific performance appraisals (DOWNLOAD QUESTIONNAIRE). The questionnaire incorporates the design elements listed above. It was applied to a telecommunication service provider’s employee base (the output of the questionnaire serving as input for the system’s design). The aim of the study was to incorporate the expectations of both managers and non-managers in the design of an organisation-specific performance appraisal system.
The value of the questionnaire lies in that it is a non-confrontational method of obtaining employee input in the system’s design. As each organisation’s environment differs, each environment may need to further refine the questionnaire for the purposes of that environment. Also, it is advised that the questionnaire should not be the only interaction with stakeholders in the design of the performance appraisal system.
The following model is suggested:
Figure 1: A model for the design of performance appraisal systems.