The problem with annual appraisals doesn’t originate with bad managers or bad delivery. This isn’t a case of managers abusing or badly applying a system. It’s the system which is flawed. In fact, within the system of annual appraisals, good managers end up doing more harm than bad managers.
It’s easy to see when a bad manager is giving biased feedback. However, with good managers, it’s not so obvious. They appear fair and objective, but they’re liable to bias just like everyone else. So, in the case of annual appraisals, good managers make the system look like it is working. But it’s not. Good managers, therefore, bring a quieter, deeper kind of pain for employees.
The problem with annual appraisals isn’t in their delivery; it’s in their underlying assumptions. The annual appraisal done well is just as terrible as one done poorly. Training people to do it well is like a better-trained chef baking with rotten eggs.