Almost universally, where performance
appraisal is conducted properly, supervisors and subordinates have reported the
experience as beneficial.
For many employees, an "official" appraisal interview may be the only time they get to have uninterrupted access to their supervisor. Said one employee of a large organization after his first formal performance appraisal, "In twenty years of work, that's the first time anyone has ever bothered to sit down and tell me how I'm doing."
The impact of this intense interaction between supervisors and subordinates should not be underestimated.
Performance appraisal provides employees with recognition for their work efforts. The power of social recognition as an incentive has been long noted. In fact, there is evidence that human beings will even prefer negative recognition in preference to no recognition at all.
If nothing else, the existence of an appraisal program indicates to an employee that the organization is genuinely interested in their individual performance and development. This alone can have a positive influence on the individual's sense of worth, commitment and belonging.
The strength and prevalence of
this natural human desire for individual recognition should not be overlooked.
Absenteeism and turnover rates in some organizations might be greatly reduced
if more attention were paid to it. Regular performance appraisal, at least,
is a good start.
During the discussion of an employee's work performance, the presence or absence of work skills can become very obvious - even to those who habitually reject the idea of training for them!
Performance appraisal can make the need for training more pressing and relevant by linking it clearly to performance outcomes and future career aspirations.
From the point of view of the organization
as a whole, consolidated appraisal data can form a picture of the overall
demand for training. This data may be analysed by variables such as sex,
department, etc. In this respect, performance appraisal can provide a regular
and efficient training needs audit for the entire organization.
Appraisal data can also be used
to monitor the effectiveness of changes in recruitment strategies. By following
the yearly data related to new hires (and given sufficient numbers on which
to base the analysis) it is possible to assess whether the general quality
of the workforce is improving, staying steady, or declining.
But the need to evaluate (i.e., to judge) is also an ongoing source of tension, since evaluative and developmental priorities appear to frequently clash. Yet at its most basic level, performance appraisal is the process of examining and evaluating the performance of an individual.
Though organizations have a clear right - some would say a duty - to conduct such evaluations of performance, many still recoil from the idea. To them, the explicit process of judgement can be dehumanizing and demoralizing and a source of anxiety and distress to employees.
It is said by some that performance appraisal cannot serve the needs of evaluation and development at the same time; it must be one or the other.
But there may be an acceptable middle ground, where the need to evaluate employees objectively, and the need to encourage and develop them, can be balanced.