How to Increase Employee Buy-In to the Appraisal Process

Posted by Mack • March 14, 2017 (Last modified July 29, 2018) • 3 min read

Many employees and managers alike are not huge fans of the performance appraisal, which can defeat the purpose of giving one. Dissatisfaction with, and perceived unfairness about, the performance appraisal process can have grave implications on employee morale, decreasing engagement and increasing the likelihood of turnover.

But, research still maintains that having a properly-constructed review process is essential to developing your employees and keeping top talent. So, what to do if you know you need to provide an appraisal process, but don’t want to disengage your employees by doing so?


1. Give employees a voice.

Two-way communication within organizations goes a long way towards promoting engagement and can improve the appraisal process in multiple ways:


  • First and foremost, gather manager and employee feedback on the process and implement changes based on it. Find out what employees do not like, find out what managers do not like. Have department heads, as well as employees within the department, define the competencies they will be rated on. Find out if there are open-ended questions that can be incorporated to allow employees a voice outside of a rating scale. If employees help design the appraisal form for their department, they will be much less likely to feel it is irrelevant or unfair.


  • Second, implement a self-appraisal and utilize 360-degree feedback to allow employees to voice their opinions on themselves, their peers, and their managers. This makes employees active contributors to the appropriate performance appraisals and encourages managers to act in a respectful, unbiased way towards their teams. Both features are included in Trakstar software, and our support team is always willing to lend a helping hand during process changes.


2. Take steps to improve leader-member relationships.

Respectful, understanding, and unbiased relationships with managers and leaders lead to more acceptance of performance results and higher perceived utility of the process. You can even use the appraisal as a tool for relationship improvement! Managers and employees should be encouraged to understand their respective job roles and tangible ways to improve, rather than simply being rated on an endless list of competencies someone else chose for them. Managers and employees should be having conversations more than once per year, and effort should be made in assuring employees that their manager and senior leaders have a genuine interest in their development as well as understanding their needs.


3. Consider rewording negative feedback and the negative side of rating scales, or even hiding scores entirely.

This doesn’t mean not giving constructive criticism, but find a way to provide criticism in a way that is respectful of the employee’s dignity, and frame conversations in a way that outlines the employee’s potential for improvement rather than highlighting past mistakes. Employees are more likely to accept positive reinforcement than negative.


AVOID:  Do not take the attitude that your employees just do not want to cooperate and should be forced to partake in a review process against their will. Your employees have reasons for disliking the current process, and those reasons should be discovered. If managers complain that it takes too much time, consider shortening your appraisal form–meet employees and managers halfway.  Leadership who appears ambivalent about employee needs drives disengagement and lowers employee morale, which is the exact opposite result you’re trying to get when using a performance appraisal process!


If you have been pondering how to bring your employees and/or managers on board with your appraisal process and feel that some changes are in order, Trakstar is here help!  From our completely customizable competencies and rating scales, to self-appraisals, succession planning, and even 360-degree feedback functionality, we have a whole suite of solutions that follows current research on improving employee engagement, promoting development, and increasing acceptance of the appraisal process.

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