Why performance appraisals fail in the modern
working world and what to do instead
The annual performance appraisal is one of the most commonly used management tools, revolving around performance differentiation, development, assessment of potential, skills evaluations, goal-oriented control and motivation, feedback-based learning, and career prospects. While this may sound great on paper, practice reveals a vast gap between conceptual aspirations and actual reality. Despite the simple, plausible ideas behind performance appraisal, it can have toxic effects. Like many employees’ performances, the appraisal itself essentially remains below expextations in terms of relevance and functionality.
In this book, Armin Trost critically examines the annual performance appraisal for the first time. The intended targets and practices are put to the test, and discussed based on various business conditions.
He focuses on management culture, task environment and organisational context, demonstrating how annual performance appraisals reflect a static, hierarchical notion of leadership and organisation. In this respect, it is at odds with the concept of a modern workplace, which is increasingly characterised by complexity, uncertainty, networking, personal responsibility and self-organization.
Along with his criticism, however, Professor Trost also identifies practical alternatives to the classic performance appraisal. Modern approaches, for example, see groups collectively set targets in short cycles. Feedback from customers and colleagues is considered more important than feedback from direct supervisors, with managers acting more as coaches than judges.