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 www.blairmcpherson.co.uk