Motivation madness: the disconnect between employers and employees on appraisals

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Do you value your employees? I’m sure you do, but how do you show them?

A key part of your employees feeling valued at work is the opportunities they are given. They need to be offered a career path that challenges them and pushes them to reach their full potential.

Achieving this is largely down to your employees having a personal development plan in place and meeting regularly with their manager to stay on track.

Personal development is a way for people to assess their own skills and qualities, consider their aims in life and set aspirational goals. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, we are all striving to reach the top of the pyramid where we can reach our full potential.

Therefore, there is not only a business, but also a human need to get it right.

Employee potential is being left untapped

A recent survey by breatheHR, uncovered that 30% of employees never have meetings about their personal development. SMEs in the UK employ 15.7 million people, this means 4.7 million people – almost a third of the SME work force – aren’t getting the input needed to further their career.

A further 37% of employees only have meetings with their manager about personal development once a year. That’s a staggering amount of potential that is being stifled. Much like buying an apple tree, but not giving it the water or nutrients it needs to produce any apples. So, to produce the pink lady of all employees, you need to find out what makes them tick.   

One way to ensure an employee is able to reach their full potential is motivation. If they’re not motivated by what they’re doing or where they’re going, it’s difficult for anyone to refrain from laziness.

The survey revealed that 46% of employers found appraisals motivating, compared to only 20% of employees, with less than one in five considering them to be valuable. Something in the process is clearly not working, so why is there a disconcerting disconnect between the motivation felt from appraisals by employers and employees?

Are appraisals a priority?

Appraisals are often thought of as a chore for employers, as to conduct them effectively, they come with a stack of paperwork and preparation.

And for many, its seen as an annual ‘box tick’ exercise. In fact, when employers were asked about their business priorities, employee satisfaction and appraisals ranked fourth behind customer retention, new business and cashflow, clearly demonstrating employers’ feelings of indifference towards the task. This explains why employers are more likely to feel motivated after completing an appraisal.

It’s another job ticked off their list – enough to make anyone feel motivated.

Employees, however, want to feel as though they have got to grips with their performance at work. They require detailed feedback with examples, and this should be both negative and positive.

Feedback is crucial to personal development, yet despite this, 20% of the UK SME workforce are not receiving any feedback at all, with 21% only receiving it when requested. This is a big issue – without feedback how can anyone learn and improve?

When it comes to feedback and appraisals employers and employees are approaching the process from totally different vantage points. Employers are pleased to have a yearly process in place for feedback. They don’t realise that this approach is no longer sufficient, and that employees want a more agile and dynamic approach to feedback.

The result would be a motivated and engaged workforce that understands how their role links to the wider vision of the company and how they can positively impact its development.

It is especially important to get the appraisal and personal development process right at the start of a business and to ingrain personal development into your culture. Aside from the desire to do right by your employees, motivation drives better performance. So it’s in your best interests to get this process nailed.

The good news is that a fragmented, inconsistent appraisal and feedback process is relatively simple to fix. The first step for an employer is to get under the skin of your employee and understand what they need to improve and what they can take away from an appraisal to kick-start their motivation.

It also needs to shift from traditional annual appraisals to regular meetings and moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach. Just because you’ve always done something one way, doesn’t mean it’s right.

Although we haven’t yet developed a tool to read minds and help us truly find out what our employees want, there are many useful tools out there to help streamline the necessary admin and free up time allowing you to have those much-needed face-to-face conversations.

People are a force of positivity and if you can find a way to turn an apple seed into a succulent pink lady, you’ll have a full orchard in no time.

About Jonathan Richards


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21st Aug 2017 13:58

Hi Jonathan, I think you are right. It’s a sad state of affairs, but if you ask a room of people if they agree, that they are the person they are today because of their performance appraisals, you’ll get very few takers. Okay maybe it’s a big ask to expect this familiar work process to yield such lofty results – but then again why shouldn’t we have high expectations? After all, this is such an important opportunity – one which brings manager and staff together to review performance, build engagement and deliver results.
What we know:
• 43% of UK managers don’t believe performance reviews are effective (CIPD 2016) and often feel uncomfortable discussing behavioural expectations with staff.
• The average UK organisation now spends around 5 hours per employee per annum, on performance management, with costs estimated to be over £1150 per person.
• Two thirds of employees who participated in reviews found them to be either ineffective or only partly effective.
Recent trends
Research by PwC reveals that 60% of larger companies are now rethinking their appraisal process, with 1:20 now looking to scrap formal evaluations. Microsoft, Accenture and Deloitte have already dropped them in favour of ongoing feedback. IBM found that organisations which use ongoing performance methods have 20% higher levels of employee engagement. Also there also evidence that employees themselves in every size of organisation want more regular and immediate feedback on performance.
Here at Endor we help organisations to make ongoing feedback a reality. Partnering with the University of Hull, we’ve developed a handy online resource to support effective performance discussions - delivering 100’s of practical ideas to extend performance role, tailored to the individual preferences of every employee. To find out more about this resource; to test it for yourself and discover how you could use it for free in your organisation, visit or contact Chris Watson at [email protected]

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