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Factors Influencing Managers’ Attitudes Towards Performance Appraisal

Tanya Du Plessis, Annelize Van Niekerk

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Orientation: Managers often have negative attitudes towards performance appraisal because of its problematic nature, which is influenced by political and social contextual factors. These negative attitudes lead to reduced employee support, inaccurate performance appraisal ratings and, consequently, negative employee perceptions of the performance appraisal process. This state of affairs necessitates a deeper understanding of the factors influencing managers’ attitudes towards performance appraisal.Research purpose: The purpose of this research was to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that influence managers’ attitudes towards performance appraisal.Motivation for the study: Previous research has confirmed the importance of performance appraisals in organisations. However, managers’ dislike of and aversion to performance appraisal impact negatively on the effectiveness of performance appraisal systems and ultimately the development and performance of employees.Research design, approach and method: An interpretivist qualitative study was adopted, utilising naïve sketches and in-depth interviews to collect data from eight managers, purposively selected. The data were analysed by using Tesch’s descriptive data analysis technique.Main findings: This study revealed that performance appraisal is fundamentally an uncomfortable and emotional process for managers, which results in their adopting defensive attitudes. Because of many uncertainties, managers do not always display the ability or readiness to conduct performance appraisals. The organisational context might place the individual manager in a position to distort employee ratings, which in turn negatively influences that manager’s attitude.Practical and managerial implications: This study provides insight into the present-day experience of managers in respect of performance appraisal and highlights the factors that influence their attitudes.Contribution: The insight gained from this research into the factors impacting on the attitude of managers towards performance appraisals can assist organisations to better support and empower such managers to be more effective in their approach when conducting performance appraisals.