Why appraisals don’t have to be a chore (or a bore!)

The frequent check-in. It sounds so simple doesn’t it? So why is it so difficult to achieve and how can you make it a reality. In this blog we look at what the businesses who have got it right are doing.  The businesses seeing the most success from their review process tend to adopt four key approaches;

They build from scratch

One of the most common mistakes we see, is a business introducing an appraisal or review process without employee or management input or buy in to a new process.

If you start from scratch, and get everyone’s buy in to a “new “ way of doing things, these are typically more successful as new behavioural patterns can be formed without the temptation to slip back into old habits. For example, the human instinct to put off that potentially tricky conversation till the end of year review can no longer be indulged. We can help create a process where managers and employees have better conversations rather than completing a mountain of paperwork!

Have the confidence to completely get rid of the old and build the new from scratch. Abandon the annual objective setting, the end of year review, the ratings, the forms – all of the performance paraphernalia that’s been built up over decades. Have the courage to adopt a minimalist approach that says the ONLY thing that helps people to improve performance is to have great and frequent conversations.

They help managers to do it differently

Much of our performance management training for managers has centred around the completion of the process rather than how to actually help their employees do something better than they are doing today. We can support your Managers to have better conversations with their employees.

This includes helping managers to move from seeing performance management as the means of judging or assessing an employee and instead, providing coaching support. For example, giving your managers some basic coaching skills training will help them to have more effective two-way conversations.

It doesn’t always have to be a training programme. Sometimes, just providing managers with a few choice phrases or questions to kick things off can be helpful.

They resist the temptation to compensate for poor managers

By removing the structural constraints of the traditional Appraisal or Review system, you will be leaving the poor managers to their own devices and that may mean some of them do nothing at all to help their people in terms of performance.

To help us get over any guilty feelings we might have, I’d suggest that we ask ourselves two questions;

  1. Do we honestly believe that the experience of an annual performance review at the hands of a poor manager would be a positive one?
  2. Is it fair to inflict a process that is a miserable one for the majority, just so that we can force poor managers to do something they don’t want to do?

Hopefully, if you have answered a resounding ‘NO!’ to both of these questions, we can focus less on mitigating the impact of poor managers and more on helping them improve or move on!

They let employees determine how frequent a check-in should be

One of the dilemmas that we see constantly is how often should we do this?

We’ve been helping our clients for many years to introduce better reviews and these always ask the question of the employees and the managers, of how often they should happen, and the answer is – that depends!

Often, they go for the nice neat answer of once a year, twice a year, month or quarterly. To me this is a classic case of applying old thinking to our new approach; trying to apply a structure from the centre to cover a multitude of different needs. So, instead of having a recommended frequency, they encourage managers to find out from their employees how often they might need or want one – or establish a framework where the employee is the person who ‘makes it happen’ rather than the manager.

So, in summary:

  • Start again from scratch, resist trying to hold onto to some of the old structures
  • Focus your approach on the leaders who might be up for doing something different
  • Let employees decide when they want one and avoid set frequencies
  • Give managers tips and conversation starters to build their confidence

How can we help?

We’ve all been on the other side of the desk, when a manager has sat in a review meeting with us, and hasn’t prepared, doesn’t know how to give constructive feedback about your performance and leaves you feeling quite frankly, totally demotivated!

Our next in person Masterclass is on Friday 18th November at the Hilton Garden Inn in Abingdon and we will share with you all the practical, do’s and don’ts for having a killer review meeting with your employees. We will share our top tips for giving constructive feedback to your team members – once learnt and practiced, never forgotten! As well as giving you the basic coaching and effective questioning skills required to make this a great conversation!

Masterclasses are all day, in person events and include lunch and will be charged at £175 for our clients and £225 for non-clients. Book your place here.