Performance management is often a contentious area. The assessment of performance often, un-intendedly, raises sensitivities, generates feelings of inequity and often an erosion of worth. The bell curve fitment often comes across as a case of 'cutting off the legs to suit the bed' - a la Procrustes.
Often a more "objective" assessments is postulated as the answer. Can there ever be an "objective" appraisal? What kind of investment in performance data tracking and recording, would the search for this Shangri-la take?
Even if managers do away with the mythical quest for 'objectivity', 'step in' and embrace the spirit of appraisal, there is another 'dragon to be slayed' in the path of an effective and equitable assessment. Building a perspective of individual performance as well as calibrating this performance, relative to the group performance. Without perspective, appraisal can become a dead-letter monument to compliance.
This takes investment; it takes dialogue, listening , uncovering reasons for shortfall, substantiating with data, getting to the heart of the performance and competence issues, and building a picture of effort-behavior-results, such that the reality of the performance endeavour emerges.