An appraisal is a meeting between an employee and the line manager to review performance; in some places it is referred to as a performance review.
Appraisals can be an exciting event to look forward to or a one to dread. It all depends on how they are conducted and what their outcome is. My experience is limited to the educational sector and these are my main suggestions to avoid obvious pitfalls:
Appraisals can be the event that formalises an employee’s achievements, a celebration, and yet so much disappointment can be generated in a one-hour meeting! So, is there anything we can learn from other industries?
Research suggests that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is characterised by the importance of reflecting on practice and the individual responsibility to develop (Megginson and Whitaker, 2007), with continuing as key to the scheme (Harding, 2009). This is an important shift because it puts teachers in charge of their development.
To ensure staff is ready to deliver future services, managers need to draw development plans in line with the departmental objectives and the training required should feed into the organizational training plan as recommended by Guskey (2000). Organising development sessions disjoint from individual development plans means that organisations miss an opportunity to align service objectives with the development of their staff.
Highly qualified and experienced staff are offered no real incentive to further develop (Sparks, D., 2002); in fact, Claire Whitehouse (2015) states that “schools need organisational structures and managements that encourage and facilitate on-going professional learning, rather than focusing on monitoring and regulation.”
Frequent and informal chats are very much in line with a new fad in management, according to James Baron, Professor of Management at Yale School of Management, “Evaluating an employee’s job performance should consist of more than an annual chat.” (Knight, 2011) and this is supported by a radical change in performance management style which suggests that “regular conversations about performance and development change the focus to building the workforce your organization needs to be competitive both today and years from now. Business researcher Josh Bersin estimates that about 70% of multinational companies are moving toward this model” (Cappelli, 2016). This seems to suggest that, even though in schools PDIs may not take place regularly, staff satisfaction may be generated by all the other informal conversations that take place naturally during their work between staff and managers, even in the absence of formal PDIs.
In conclusion, looking at other industries, appraisals should be frequent, have a clear purpose, should be flowed up by appropriate training in line with the company’s direction and the individual should be in charge of this process. The pandemic made us work remotely like never before and these three points are more relevant than ever.
Cappelli, P. and Tavis, A. (2016). The Performance Management Revolution. Harvard Business Review. October 2016 Issue. https://hbr.org/2016/10/the-performance-management-revolution
Guskey, T. (2000). Evaluating professional development. Thousand Oaks, California 91320: Corwin Press, Inc.
Harding, K. (2009). CPD: Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is not new but it is increasingly seen as necessary in ELT in the UK and around the world. Modern English Teacher, [online] 18(3). Available at: https://business.highbeam.com/437580/article-1G1-205985086/cpd-continuing-professional-development
Knight, R. (2011). Delivering an Effective Performance Review. Harvard Business Review. October 2011 Issue. https://hbr.org/2011/11/delivering-an-effective-perfor
Megginson, D. and Whitaker, V. (2007). Continuing Professional Development. 2nd ed. London: The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Sparks, D. (2002). Designing Powerful Professional Development for Teachers and Principals. National Staff Development Council, Oxford, OH. Available at: http://www.nsdc.org.ew
Whitehouse, C. (2015). Effective Continuing Professional Development For Teachers. Centre for Education Research and Policy. Available at: www.cerp.org.uk