Over the last couple of years, many HR professionals have argued that performance appraisals should be abandoned. Their point is they are awkward to give and they are biased. They stick people in boxes and leave people waiting far too long for feedback. By the end of 2015, over 30 of the Fortune 500 companies have taken their advice and ditched performance evaluations all together.
A recent Harvard Business Review article discusses how Facebook has rejected this thinking. The company proudly talks about how they do it and the benefits they believe they get from continuing to have performance appraisals.
My own opinion is that performance appraisals are absolutely essential. There are four reasons why:
1.) Honesty – The fact is, if a company gets rid of performance appraisals, they are still rating people. They are still having discussions as to who gets the promotion and whose performance has been strong enough to warrant being placed in a certain job. Unfortunately, this is all done without input from the people being evaluated or individuals who work closely with those folks. To not share management’s performance assessment with the individual is simply wrong.
2.) Performance Appraisals Make People Better – A sound performance appraisal should increase the individuals pride in their work when they hear from their boss that certain aspects have been done quite well. Most importantly, the boss also needs to outline areas of improvement, giving detailed examples of how things could have been done better. This is vitally important in training individuals to make bigger and better contributions over their career.
3.) Career Guidance – The boss and the individual should discuss job experiences to date, the career value of the current job, and the desired and the feasible career directions. Too seldom do individuals get this kind of input, causing them to stagnate in the career area that they have picked out early in their life even though their skillset indicates they could be far more successful in other directions.
4.) People Want to Know – Individuals realize that bosses are making decisions as to who gets the promotions and who has the skills to tackle key jobs that are opening up. Hence, individuals want to have a dialogue about those things. They want to understand what might fit best for them in the future in regard to career direction.
I often get the impression that HR professionals have a fundamental tendency to not be as frank with people as they should be. That kind of coddling is simply inappropriate when you are talking about someone’s career. I applaud Facebook for rejecting this politically correct notion that fosters the abandonment of performance appraisals.