It would be hard to say when companies became concerned with appraising their managers' performance. It may be that it has always been a concern, but it has really only manifested itself in formal appraisal methods and systems over the past decade or so. (Doubtless having said that we will be inundated with letters proving that appraisal can be traced back to Plato's ‘Republic’ or the Bible.) However, despite the concern and the large amount of material written and spoken about appraisal, much of what takes place appears to have become an annual form‐filling ritual with little influence, either on the individuals or the organisation. Managers, who are frequently on the receiving end of this ritual, are hard put to identify the usefulness of appraisal, nor are they usually in a position to assess how well an appraisal fits the needs of their particular company. This article is an attempt to describe for managers a framework for examining the usefulness and appropriateness of an appraisal system. The analyses resulting from the framework should help managers to design an appraisal system better suited to the needs of their organisation.
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