How Appraisal Policies May Put Managers in a No-Win Situation


A very successful, but frustrated, manager reported to me, “During annual performance appraisals, we must have an improvement plan for low ratings.”   The manager further explained that he rated two employees low on the “quantity of work” scale.

“Did you develop a plan?” I asked.

“Yes, both had good attitudes.  I spent a lot of time with them and they did improve.”  The manager admitted the employees did not blossom into stars and probably never would.  Still, on the next appraisal, they earned “meets expectations.”

“Then what is your frustration?” I asked.

“When I submitted my appraisals, my manager said that my ratings were too high.  He said I needed at least some ratings that were “below expectations.”

“I think I see the cause of your frustration,” I responded.  “You are required to improve employees’ performances and, at the same time, your manager expects you to report lower ratings.  This seems like a no win situation.”

“That’s my point, exactly!”

Performance appraisal ratings create more frustration than a ref’s bad call you your star player in the final seconds of a game.  Why don’t we just do away with ratings?  Replace them with a brief listing of an employee’s achievements and areas of emphasis for the future.