Another day, another article saying we should scrap performance appraisals…. It’s time to kill the performance review .  The article actually focusses on problems with performance grades but that wouldn’t be as interesting a title I guess!  
Anyway, here’s my point.  When working with individuals who are struggling with some aspect of their role or performance we build from their strengths.  We certainly don’t suggest they just give up.  The same applies to performance reviews and other organisational processes.  Endlessly scrapping initiatives and replacing them with something else leads to cynicism.
Is it a good idea to discuss how things are going, set some goals/plans for the future, discuss training or other support that may achieve those goals, look at where the company is going and the broader themes for the coming period?  Yes, it is…well that is a performance review.  Now, you may or not believe in performance related pay.  Not for me to say – if you do want to use it then you’ll need some measures of success.  Your organisational culture might like numbers/grades etc.  OK, fine – it can be problematic but people have made it work.  Let’s see how we can make it work for you.
Before we throw away performance management or even the annual review, let’s write down what is good, what does work, what we want to retain.  Then look at the parts that are less useful or problematic – do we need them, can we improve them.  Is it the system or the skills of the people involved that is causing the problem – and so on.  Having an annual review doesn’t stop you from discussing how things are going on a regular, informal basis … in fact you’re going to find the annual review difficult if you haven’t been doing that.
Our clients often approach us through some disillusionment with their performance appraisal process … it may be they want an improved system, it may be completion rates are dropping, or it may be people are overwhelmed with the process.  When we meet the people involved…the appraisees…they rarely if ever want the process to be scrapped.  What they do want is for it to be real, for there to a meaningful conversation about their aspirations, current performance, and goals, and for it to be a simple and fair process.