According to Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins, in their seminal book , over 50 years of academic studies reveal scant empirical evidence of the effectiveness of performance appraisals at actually improving performance.
Two primary defenses for maintaining performance appraisals are that they are required by law, and that they are required documentation to terminate an employee. Both assertions are false.
Management thinker Charles Handy offers a splendid metaphor in his autobiography, Myself and Other More Important Matters, which I believe is applicable to knowledge workers and the performance appraisal process––the theater:
There’s no talk of ‘human resources,’ everyone is listed on the playbill, and managers are for things (stage, lighting, etc.), not people. The talent is directed, not managed, by someone who departs after the project commences. The audience feedback is immediate, not one year after the performance.