Performance appraisals: The 4 factors that makes a manager good at them

Performance appraisals: The 4 factors that make managers good at them

Performance Appraisals

Performance appraisals – some managers are good at performance appraisals and others…well less so. The question is what is that makes the difference? A new study (this research briefing was sent to members in 2017 – apply for membership) has just been published looking at how managers orient themselves towards performance appraisals to see if there is an underlying structure towards the ratings they give and whether discrimination plays a significant part in performance appraisals.

Keywords: performance appraisals, management, appraisal discrimination



The study

The study looked at 498 managers and their behaviours with performance appraisals. Previous research has found that the level of conscientiousness and self-monitoring the managers displays has a significant impact on their performance doing appraisals.

The study looked at a number of dimensions relating to the manager to see how these factors have an impact on the effectiveness of their performance appraisals and ratings of others. The dimensions of factors the researchers examined were:

  1. Conscientiousness
  2. Level of self-monitoring
  3. Attitudes towards the organisation
  4. Beliefs about the appraisal system, including
    1. level of belief about their own appraisal competencies
    2. beliefs about how the appraisals are being used
    3. orientation towards the appraisal system.


The Performance Appraisal



 Raters who are conscientious tend to be more dependable, stick to the rules and are more diligent than those with a lower level of conscientiousness. However, it has also been found that people with high levels of conscientiousness set high standards of performance for others as well.


Level of self-monitoring

People who have high levels of self-monitoring tend to examine and control their own behaviours and be concerned with things like fairness and reducing bias. However, it has also been found that people with high levels of self-monitoring may also be susceptible to wanting to be liked and, as a result, of being found to inflate the ratings they give.



performance management



Attitudes towards the organisation

Previous studies have found that there are significant links between what a manager thinks about the organisation and their level of citizenship behaviours. Managers with higher levels of a sense of citizenship tend to take greater care with performance appraisals and be concerned with general organisational performance.


Beliefs about the appraisal system

A manager’s beliefs about the appraisal system, their own level of competence as an appraiser and, greater, how the information in the appraisal is going to be used and how trustful or distrustful they are of the appraisal system has a significant impact on the quality of appraisals they tend to conduct.


The annual review / appraisal is dying. Here is what is replacing it – new research



The study found that all of the above factors have a significant influence on the efficiency and effectiveness of a manager doing appraisals. Interestingly, they discovered that the manager’s beliefs and attitudes about performance generally about how useful an appraisal system is has the biggest impact on whether a manager is likely to positively or negatively discriminate during performance appraisals. However, they could not discern any underlying structure which accounts for their behaviour. Therefore, the study is more of a confirmatory piece of research which shows that all of the four elements of:


  1. Conscientiousness
  2. Level of self-monitoring
  3. Attitudes towards the organisation
  4. Beliefs about the appraisal system, including
    1. level of belief about their own appraisal competencies
    2. beliefs about how the appraisals are being used
    3. orientation towards the appraisal system


have a significant impact on the quality of performance appraisals given. This study, whilst failing to find a guiding structure, is useful in that it provides guidance for organisations wanting to improve their appraisal process. In effect, focusing on the appraiser’s levels of conscientiousness and self-monitoring and exploring managers’ attitudes towards the organisation and their beliefs about the appraisal system should help to increase the effectiveness of organisational performance appraisals and reduce levels of discrimination.



Not a member? – Apply to join now and get:

  1. Weekly research briefings sent direct to you every week
  2. A copy of the Oxford Review containing between twelve and sixteen additional research briefings every month
  3. Research Infographics
  4. Video research briefings.
  5. The occasional special reports / short literature reviews on topics that appear to be getting a lot of research attention or if there has been a recent shift in the thinking or theory
  6. The ability to request a watch list for new research in keyword areas (as long as it is within the realms of:
    1. Leadership
    2. Management
    3. Human resources (not legal aspects)
    4. Organisational development
    5. Organisational change
    6. Organisational learning
    7. Learning and development,
    8. Coaching
    9. Work Psychology
    10. Decision making
  7. Request specific research / brief literature reviews
  8. Access to the entire archive of previous research briefings, copies of the Oxford Review, infographics, video research briefings and special reports.
  9. Access to Live Reports – continually updated as new research on the topic is released
  10. Members only podcasts – research briefings in audio – coming soon
  11. Live continually updated reports


Be the most up-to-date person in the room

Apply now




Tziner A and Levy S (2017) Examination of Performance Appraisal Behavior Structure. Front. Psychol. 7:2075. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02075



Be impressively well informed

Get the very latest research intelligence briefings, video research briefings, infographics and more sent direct to you as they are published

Be the most impressively well-informed and up-to-date person around...

Powered by ConvertKit
Like what you see? Help us spread the word

David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page