Is performance appraisal a waste of time?

Helle Bundgaard | Founder | Motivation Factor Institute

Most employees and managers do not look forward to annual performance appraisal. When asked why this event is not anticipated with more excitement, employee answers can be grouped into three categories:

  • Waste of time
    • Neither the employee nor the manager are prepared for the interview
    • Subsequent follow up is either insufficient or non-existing
    • Limited time for the completion of day-to-day tasks creates a “we don’t have time for this” mindset
  • Evaluation instead of development
    • Focus on the past instead of the future
    • Focus on competencies instead of job satisfaction, content and motivation
  • It’s nothing more than company policy
    • We do appraisals because we have to, not because we want to
    • Nobody uses the result afterwards

In a company with 200 employees, the annual performance appraisal is a resource consuming process. Let’s say each appraisal interview takes one and a half hours to complete, the managers preparation takes another hour, the employees preparation one hour more and the HR department’s registration takes an additional half hour. In total that adds up to 200 x 4 hours = 800 hours, or the same as one headcount in five and a half month. In other words, the time involved is equal to one employee working from nine to five, five days a week for almost half a year, all for something most employees and managers think is a waste of time. Perhaps it is time to consider if we could do performance appraisal a better way.

The simple solution would be to stop doing appraisals altogether. It’s crazy wasting time and money on something that both parties consider pointless. Another plausible answer could be to look at how we do appraisals, what’s the purpose of doing them and how can we proactively work with the results of the interview between the appraisals to make the time and effort worth it?

First of all we need to distinguish between competencies and motivation.


A performance appraisal focusing on competencies is only half the picture. The employee with the best competencies, who does not know or understand his or her contribution to the overall objective, will never be a “High Performer”, and neither will the super motivated employee who is low on competencies. The recipe for a high performance employee is motivation + competencies. The performance appraisal needs to focus on both of these ingredients in order to provide a constructive feedback that will help to create a high performer.

Measure motivation and identify the motivational triggers

If we agree that performance is a result of both competencies and motivation, the annual performance appraisal could easily be based on the same mindset. Imagine if you, as a preparation for the appraisal interview, could measure each employee’s individual level of motivation and identify their individual motivational triggers (needs and talents). Afterwards, you could use the results to increase the quality and value of the interview.

How to do it!

Motivation Factor has developed a full concept for the motivation portion of the appraisal interview. Your new, improved version of your performance appraisal starts with a one-day training session that will help you to learn how to use and read the result report – and how to use the key questions related to each result to actively bring about positive change. The one day session acts as classroom training for a group of managers, so in only one day you and your management team can be equipped with vital information and be ready to effect positive change.

After training, you are ready to send out the assessments to your employees, and include the results in your performance appraisal dialogue.



This employee scored low on Motivation Capability (the ability to manage your own motivation).

About the Motivation Capability Dialogue:

The objective of the Motivation Capability conversation is to identify the energy-drainers (low score questions), and to provide insight into the needs and the relationship between needs and behavior.

Energy is the foundation of all activity – both mental and physical. It is therefore of great importance that we are able to identify and work to eliminate the things that drain our energy – those obstacles which we often, unconsciously, let steer our daily performance and long term careers.

The ability to recognize and respond to your own and others’ needs is not only essential to motivation, it is also an important way to prevent stress.

In addition to the above, understanding and managing our needs has a further impact on our development.

By understanding your own and others’ needs, we free our brain up to more effectively learn, grow and manage change.

Ask the employee to write down 3 low score questions (LSQs) that drain his or her energy the most:

  • Question #1: I always have the resources I need to complete my work assignments.
  • Question #2: I have the time I need to complete my work to my satisfaction.
  • Question #3: If I feel powerless, I know exactly what to do to get my power back.


You will learn to use a similar methodology for three of the four levels in the Hierarchy of Motivation: Energy, Needs and Talents.

So, what is the outcome?

Ultimately, outcomes of this exercise signal the importance of the company’s performance appraisal program as a valuable management tool for:


  • A realization that a focus on individual needs, talents and job satisfaction will provide greater motivation
  • The ability to control and navigate his or her own motivation
  • A ready-to-use action plan he or she can start implementing right away


  • Meaningful dialogue
  • Better understanding and focus on the individual employee productivity and well-being
  • Strategic connection to the overall objectives

The company or organization:

  • A complete process, including management training, measurement, questionnaire templates, etc.
  • Gain insights on Employee wishes, expectations, needs and talents
  • Become more informed about manager observations, plans and expectations
  • Re-evaluate the company’s strategy and objectives for better outcomes
  • Generate meaningful dialogue between managers and employees

Are you ready to bring more quality and value to your performance appraisal? Don’t hesitate to ask for more information, we are here to help! Contact Motivation Factor, or check out our homepage.

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