What is Performance Appraisal?

Meaning & Definition

Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisal, also known as a performance review or performance evaluation, is a formal process in which an organization assesses and evaluates an employee’s job performance over a specific period. The primary purpose of a performance appraisal is to provide feedback, recognize achievements, identify areas for improvement, and set goals for future performance. It is a crucial part of the performance management process and is often conducted on an annual or semi-annual basis, although more frequent check-ins and reviews are becoming increasingly common.

Key components of a performance appraisal typically include:

  • Goal Setting

The process often begins with the establishment of performance goals and objectives for the upcoming review period. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

  • Self-Assessment

Employees are typically asked to complete a self-assessment, reflecting on their achievements, challenges, and contributions during the review period.

  • Manager Assessment

Managers or supervisors provide their evaluation of the employee’s performance, including strengths, weaknesses, and areas for development.

  • Feedback and Discussion

A face-to-face or virtual meeting between the employee and manager takes place to discuss the self-assessment, the manager’s assessment, and any discrepancies or areas of agreement.

  • Recognition and Rewards

Positive performance is recognized, and rewards or incentives may be discussed. These can include promotions, salary increases, bonuses, or other forms of recognition.

  • Development Plan

The performance appraisal often results in the creation of a development plan. This plan may outline specific actions and training opportunities for the employee to address performance gaps or further develop strengths.

  • Documentation

Performance appraisal records are typically documented, providing a record of the feedback and performance discussions. This documentation can be used for reference in future appraisals and, in some cases, may play a role in decisions related to promotions or terminations.

Performance appraisals serve several important purposes, including:

  • Feedback

Employees receive feedback on their work, allowing them to understand their strengths and areas for improvement, which can be valuable for personal and professional development.

  • Goal Alignment

Performance appraisals help ensure that individual and team goals are aligned with the organization’s objectives.

  • Recognition

Recognizing and rewarding outstanding performance can boost employee morale and motivation.

  • Development

The appraisal process identifies areas where employees can grow and develop their skills and knowledge.

  • Documentation

Performance appraisals provide a historical record of an employee’s progress and can be used for making HR decisions, such as promotions, raises, or terminations.

However, it’s important to note that performance appraisals are not without challenges. They can be stressful for employees, potentially lead to bias, and may not always accurately reflect an employee’s true performance. As a result, some organizations are exploring alternative performance management approaches, such as continuous feedback, coaching, and self-assessment, to complement or replace traditional annual performance appraisals.

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