Ginger Rogers’ Annual Appraisal


Annual appraisals do more harm than good and now it’s ok to say so. Many large companies have dropped Annual Appraisals replacing achievement and reward with support and coaching. One to One formal monthly supervision, the norm in some specialisms is now being rolled out across whole organisations as part of the performance management revolution. 

After all Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels

Do you ever feel under valued? That a colleague is receiving all the limelight.  Your annual appraisals is unlikely to make you feel any better. 

If the only time you sit down with your manager to get feedback on your work is when you have done something wrong or your annual performance appraisal meeting then it‘s understandable if you feel undervalued, unappreciated, demotivated and frustrated.

Annual Appraisals are universally unpopular, managers think them bureaucratic and divisive,  employees think they are unfair, and HR recent time spent chasing managers to complete forms or dealing with grievances from disgruntled employees. But most damming of all is that research indicates they are ineffective in encouraging desired behaviour and promoting creativity especially when tied to financial rewards. 

For sometime now there has been a realisation that performance management is not best served by annual appraisals and many big organisations have dropped them. The so called performance management revolution has seen annual appraisals replaced by more frequent, less bureaucratic, more positive ways of providing employees with feedback with the empathise on support and coaching. 

One approach that has been the norm in certain specialist areas and is now being rolled out across organisations is the formal one to one monthly supervision session. The model allows for flexibility in the frequency of meetings such that a new employee might have a session every two or three weeks for the first 3 months where as a more experienced employee may have a session every 4 to 6 weeks but the features/ characteristics of the supervision session are the same whatever the frequency and whatever the role and status of the employee from chief executive to basic grade front line worker.

 Sessions are typically one hour of uninterrupted one to one with the line manager where the employee provides a progress report on current activity and the supervisor provides feedback, notes issues/ obstacles raised by employee and agrees a way forward. In some cases this support may be professional advice from the supervisors greater experience or it may simply be an acknowledgement of the difficulties. Where the supervising  line manager thinks performance could be improved by additional training, new experiences or additional resources they undertake to arrange this. Likewise if the obstacles  to progress are outside the employees control the supervisor agrees to take up the issue on their behalf with Finance, IT , HR or senior management.

 Whilst this is a formal process with a record kept of the discussion points and agreed actions it is also an opportunity for the supervisor/manager to get to know the employee as an individual not just their strength and weaknesses as such sessions often start with an offer by the line manager of a cup of coffee and an informal two way exchange of personal info about activities outside work such as holiday plans or hobbies. This is also how a manager gets to know if there are responsibilities outside of work which may on occasions impact on it such as care of an elderly relative. The aim is to be supportive. 

The frequency and nature of the supervision session make it very different to the annual appraisals. The emphasis is on support and coaching rather than achievements and rewards. Where it is effective employees report feeling valued, given development opportunities and listened to. Supervising managers confirm they are more confident that they are being kept informed and that the relationship allows then to challenge and to acknowledge success without  opening themselves up to a grievance or a claim for a pay rise. 


Blair McPherson former Director, author and blogger 


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