Performance Appraisals & Career Development: What's the Link?

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When human resources development strategies begin to acquire familiar labels, watch out!  Too often, the very act of attaching a “name” can make an ongoing process suddenly seem to be a one-shot activity that is separate and distinct from other organizational business.

Such is the case with performance appraisal and career development.  Both processes are aimed at maximizing employee resource utilization.  At best, these are viewed as on-going strategies closely integrated with the achievement of organizational goals.  At worst (which may be more common), they are seen as nuisances that interrupt the natural flow of business.  When relegated to the “worst case” context, neither of these processes can fulfill its potential for increasing employee effectiveness.

One way to increase the very real human resources development potential of career development and performance appraisal is to reinforce the notion that they are indeed ongoing processes essential to organizational well-being.  And one very effective way to do that is to strengthen both processes by linking them together to create a union that takes advantage of similar concepts and strategies necessary for the success of each.

The exact strategies for linking career development and performance appraisal – the when and the how – will vary with the needs and desires of various organizations.  In many cases, points of linkage can best occur at points of simultaneous opportunity.  For example, an appraisal interview can provide the opportunity for a discussion of career development goals and employee self-assessment; the counseling by managers that is so important to career development may take place at this point.  If the organization philosophy is, however, to separate the two processes “in time” so that attention can be given to each individually, the career development discussion can still utilize the appraisal documents to assist in self-assessment.  Linkage can continue to take place as career development plans are being implemented, with performance appraisal used as an opportunity to evaluate progress toward goals.

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