There are so many articles and opinion pieces being written about the "death" of the annual appraisal that it's caused me to wonder if it was ever really alive to begin with. I mean, what is a "live" process? Surely it's one that people and organisations are committed to, see value in, and deploy with passion and vigour. Has that ever been true of that ultimate HR stereotype - the "annual appraisal"?
It seems that it's stalked organisational life for many years now like a zombie process, never quite alive. How could anything survive that is only brought into the open once a year, to be dealt with by participants who are unprepared, unskilled, and anticipating the experience with dread or fear? It's just that we're now in an era where people are really keen to pronounce it's finally dead. Interesting also that the term "appraisal" which actually means "to estimate value" has such negative associations in organisational life, while still in many organisations "performance management" is the euphemism for planning to exit someone.
However, I have to admit that I look on these debates with mixed feelings. I can't help wondering - when HR and OD specialists say they're not doing performance management anymore - what that means is they find it too hard to actually make it work.
The reality is that sending out a form once a year (yes, some organisations still do that) and expecting that to have an impact is delusional. If you want high quality performance conversations to happen, it takes guts, a huge amount of hard work, preparation, expertise and strong process. When you get it right, you find that the hard work was worth it and you end up with enlightened managers, engaged employees, evidence based decision making about workforce planning and talent management and so much more. If you're in HR and too busy to make performance management work well, what are you spending your time on?
A colleague from another department approached me at my desk last week. She said she'd just had her year-end review with her manager and she really enjoyed it. I could also see that a director had been receiving clear feedback from his team, which I mentioned to him. "Yeah", he said, "it's been really good, although it's not always been what I wanted to hear"..
Wayne is a specialist in improving performance culture in organisations.
Date - 18/05/2017