Benefits of Performance Appraisal

Perhaps the most significant benefit of appraisal is that, in the rush and bustle of daily working life, it offers a rare chance for a supervisor and subordinate to have "time out" for a one-on-one discussion of important work issues that might not otherwise be addressed.

Almost universally, where performance appraisal is conducted properly, both supervisors and subordinates have reported the experience as beneficial and positive.

Appraisal offers a valuable opportunity to focus on work activities and goals, to identify and correct existing problems, and to encourage better future performance. Thus the performance of the whole organization is enhanced.

For many employees, an "official" appraisal interview may be the only time they get to have exclusive, 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 value of this intense and purposeful interaction between a supervisors and subordinate should not be underestimated.

Motivation and Satisfaction
Performance appraisal can have a profound effect on levels of employee motivation and satisfaction - for better as well as for worse.

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.

Training and Development
Performance appraisal offers an excellent opportunity - perhaps the best that will ever occur - for a supervisor and subordinate to recognize and agree upon individual training and development needs.

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.

Recruitment and Induction
Appraisal data can be used to monitor the success of the organization's recruitment and induction practices. For example, how well are the employees performing who were hired in the past two years?

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.

Employee Evaluation
Though often understated or even denied, evaluation is a legitimate and major objective of performance appraisal.

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 been said by some that 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.