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7 performance appraisal methods every manager should know
Employee Engagement

7 performance appraisal methods every manager should know

Palak Jamuar
June 19, 2024

Performance appraisal methods form the backbone of effective talent management. From the classic 360-degree feedback to the modern continuous feedback model, we explore an array of performance appraisal methods in this blog. With a range of time-tested traditional approaches and modern strategies utilizing real-time data, these appraisal methods provide various ways to gauge, inspire, and optimize employee performance. How do you motivate and measure your team's success? What approach aligns with your vision for growth? The answers lie within these methodologies, guiding your journey to cultivating talent and propelling your organization forward.

What is performance appraisal?

Performance appraisal is a formal evaluation process used by organizations to assess an employee's job performance. It involves a structured review of an individual's work, skills, and accomplishments, often conducted annually or periodically. The goal is to provide constructive feedback, set performance expectations, and identify areas for improvement.

Importance of performance appraisal methods

  • Feedback: Provides employees feedback on strengths and areas needing improvement.
  • Recognition: Recognizes and celebrates employees' achievements and dedication.
  • Goal Setting: Helps set clear goals and expectations for the future. 
  • Development: Identifies training and development needs
  • Motivation: Recognizing effort and room for growth motivates effectively.
  • Decision-making: Appraisal outcomes guide crucial decisions like promotions, pay changes, or terminations.

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7 types of performance appraisal methods

1. 360-degree feedback

360-degree feedback is a way to evaluate an employee's performance by soliciting input from various individuals who form their "circle of influence." This circle typically includes supervisors, colleagues, customers, and direct reports. The process involves the following steps:

  1. Selecting raters, including supervisors, peers, subordinates, and even self-assessment.
  2. Collecting feedback; raters provide input on the employee's performance.
  3. Evaluating the collected feedback for insights.
  4. Sharing the feedback with the employee.
  5. Collaborating on a development plan.

Benefits of 360-degree feedback:

  • Collects insights from multiple perspectives.
  • Encourages employee self-reflection.
  • Identifies specific areas for improvement.
  • Fosters open dialogues.

Challenges with 360-degree feedback:

  • Complexity: Requires careful planning and management.
  • Time-intensive: Gathering and analyzing feedback can be time-consuming.
  • Bias possibility: Raters may exhibit biases.
  • Privacy concerns: Confidentiality can be a concern when handling feedback.

2. Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)

Behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS) method is a performance appraisal technique that combines narrative descriptions with numerical ratings. It involves:

  1. Identifying key job behaviors
  2. Gathering input from employees, managers or experts
  3. Creating specific descriptions for different performance levels.
  4. Evaluating employees based on these descriptions.
  5. Assigning numerical ratings.

Benefits of using BARS:

  • Embrace clarity in standards for better feedback.
  • Boost precision in performance analysis.
  • Cut out unrelated variations in ratings.
  • Prioritize specific, observable behaviors.
  • Safeguard against bias for a fair appraisal process.

Challenges of using BARS:

  • Developing BARS can be labor-intensive.
  • Requires training and expertise.
  • May not suit all job roles or organizations.

3. Psychological appraisals

Psychological Appraisal Method, also known as Psychological Appraisals, involves assessing employees' mental and emotional attributes, including personality, motivation, and interpersonal skills. The process typically comprises:

  1. Administering psychological tests and assessments.
  2. Evaluating responses to gauge traits, preferences, and mental well-being.
  3. Comparing results against job requirements and performance expectations.

Benefits of using psychological appraisals:

  • Offers a deeper understanding of employee traits.
  • Helps in team composition and conflict resolution.
  • Tailors training and development plans.
  • Addresses well-being and stress factors.

Challenges with psychological appraisals:

  • Privacy Concerns: Raises employee privacy issues.
  • Complex Analysis: Requires skilled professionals to interpret results.
  • Subjectivity: Interpreting psychological data can be subjective.
  • Costly and Time-Consuming: Testing and analysis can be expensive and time-intensive.

4. Management by objectives (MBO)

Management by Objectives (MBO) is a performance appraisal method where employees and managers collaboratively set specific, measurable goals. The process includes:

  1. Establishing clear objectives and key results (OKRs).
  2. Regular progress reviews between managers and employees.
  3. Assessing achievements against predetermined targets.

Benefits of management by objectives method:

  • Ensures everyone works toward common goals.
  • Defines clear expectations and priorities.
  • Boosts employee engagement and accountability.
  • Focuses on continuous development.

Challenges with management by objectives:

  • Complex goal setting: May lead to unrealistic or unclear objectives.
  • Time-consuming: Frequent reviews can be labor-intensive.
  • Not suitable for all roles: Some jobs may not fit the MBO model.
  • Overemphasis on results: Can neglect behavioral aspects of performance.

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5. Assessment center method

The Assessment centre method is a performance appraisal approach that assesses employees' competencies through various activities and simulations. The process involves:

  1. Conducting a range of exercises like group discussions, role plays, and presentations.
  2. Evaluating participants' performance against predetermined competencies.
  3. Providing detailed feedback and development recommendations.

Benefits of using assessment center method:

  • Resource-intensive: Requires significant time and effort.
  • Costly: Can be expensive to organize.
  • Anxiety inducing: Participants may feel stressed.
  • Complex logistics: Coordination challenges for large groups.

Challenges with assessment center method:

  • Resource-intensive: Requires significant time and effort.
  • Costly: Can be expensive to organize.
  • Anxiety inducing: Participants may feel stressed.
  • Complex logistics: Coordination challenges for large groups.

6. Cost accounting method

The 720-Degree Performance Appraisal method is an advanced approach that gathers feedback from various sources, including peers, subordinates, and external stakeholders, providing a well-rounded evaluation. The process involves:

  1. Identify performance cost components: training, salary, benefits, and resources.
  2. Allocate these costs to individual employees or specific performance activities.
  3. Evaluate employee performance against predefined performance criteria and objectives.
  4. Compute total performance costs, encompassing direct and indirect expenses per employee.
  5. Examine the correlation between costs and individual employee performance.
  6. Determine if costs align with outcomes and identify cost-saving or performance improvement opportunities.
  7. Leverage cost accounting insights for HR decisions on compensation, training, and more.

Benefits of cost-accounting method:

  • Links performance to cost-saving or revenue.
  • Provides quantifiable, concrete metrics.
  • Ensures alignment with financial goals.
  • Encourages cost-effective work practices.

Challenges with cost accounting method includes:

  • Narrow focus: Ignores non-financial aspects of performance.
  • Complex data: Requires expertise in cost analysis.
  • Potential for pressure: May lead to cost-cutting at the expense of quality.
  • Inadequate for creative roles: Less applicable to roles with intangible outcomes.

7. 720-degree method

The 720-Degree Performance Appraisal method is an advanced approach that gathers feedback from various sources, including peers, subordinates, and external stakeholders, providing a well-rounded evaluation. 

It goes beyond the traditional 360-degree method by involving a wider range of feedback sources. The process involves:

  1. Self-assessment
  2. Evaluation by peers, subordinates, and supervisors
  3. Feedback from external stakeholders
  4. Performance data collection
  5. Analysis and report generation

Benefits of 720- degree method:

  • Offers a holistic assessment.
  • Combines internal and external insights.
  • Identifies areas for growth.
  • Minimizes bias with diverse perspectives.

Challenges with 720-degree feedback:

  • Resource-intensive: Requires time and effort.
  • Complex coordination: Gathering input from multiple sources can be challenging.
  • Potential for conflicts: Conflicting feedback may arise.
  • Privacy concerns: Raises confidentiality issues.

What are the challenges in implementing performance appraisal methods?

1. Bias

Biases in appraisers can result in inaccurate assessments and unfair employee treatment. Few of them are are listed below:

  • Halo/horns effect: The halo/horns effect happens when a manager's evaluation of an employee is heavily influenced by a single positive or negative trait. This can lead to unfair and inaccurate reviews.
  • Recency error: Recency error occurs when individuals give greater weight to recent events or experiences when making judgments or decisions. Managers often emphasize recent performance over the overall record, known as the "What have you done for me lately?" bias, due to the human tendency to remember recent events more easily.
  • Leniency bias: Leniency error is a bias that results from emotional consideration, potentially leading to inflated ratings. For instance, if a worker faces personal issues, a manager might offer a more positive review, even if improvement is necessary. 
  • Primary bias: Primacy bias is when your initial impression of an employee influences your overall evaluation. The appraisal decision hinges on early performance, whether it's been positive or negative.
  • Central tendency bias: Central tendency bias is when people rate everyone as average, even if they're not. This often happens when you struggle to choose and opt for the safer choice.
  • Affinity bias: Affinity bias creeps in when we gravitate towards people who resemble us in terms of gender, age, race, viewpoints, education, or experiences.
  • Rater bias: Managers tend to rate others higher in areas they struggle with and lower in areas where they excel. This stems from their own biases.

2. Subjectivity

Numerous appraisal techniques hinge on subjective judgment, susceptible to personal opinions and emotions.

3. Inadequate training

Inadequate training for appraisers can result in inconsistent and unreliable evaluation outcomes.

4. Fear of confrontation

Certain evaluators might sidestep addressing performance concerns due to a fear of confrontation, resulting in ineffective feedback.


1. How can biases be minimized in performance evaluations?

To minimize biases in performance evaluations, consider these six strategies:

Biases in performance evaluations can be minimized by using standardized criteria, incorporating multiple evaluators, and leveraging performance management software to ensure objective, data-driven assessments.

2. What is the best performance appraisal method?

The most effective performance appraisal method depends on the organization's unique requirements and objectives. Options include 360-degree feedback, self-assessment, management by objectives (MBO), and narrative evaluations. The choice should be in harmony with the company's culture and goals, and often a blend of methods offers a more comprehensive assessment of employee performance.

3. What are the steps in performance appraisal?

The steps in performance appraisal are setting performance standards, communicating expectations, measuring actual performance, comparing performance with standards, discussing results with the employee, and implementing improvement plans.

5. What is the purpose of performance appraisals?

Performance appraisals serve as assessments of an employee's work performance during a specific timeframe. They aim to identify strengths and areas for improvement, with the goal of enhancing future performance.

6. How do I write a strong self-appraisal?

In my self-appraisal, I emphasized my key achievements with specific examples, quantified the results to demonstrate my impact, and acknowledged challenges I overcame while highlighting my growth and future goals. I balanced strengths with areas for improvement, referenced positive feedback, and maintained a professional and positive tone throughout.

7. What are different aspects of 360-degree feedback?

  • Self-assessment: 
  • Peer assessment
  • Managerial assessment
  • Client assessment


In a nutshell, knowing your way around various performance appraisal methods isn't just a corporate handbook thing; it's a vital element for achieving success in organizations. Understanding feedback methods leads to a happier, aligned workforce in organizations. This, in turn, leads to motivated employees, goals that harmonize with the company's rhythm. Ultimately, an informed approach to performance appraisal methods can tip the scales in favor of achieving organizational excellence and securing a brighter future.

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