It is well documented that the outcome of an engaged workforce has a positive impact on an organisations revenue and growth, so why do we continue to put our workforce and line managers through a costly and disengaging practice which yields no benefit to either employers or employees?

High quality employee performance is required every day, it is not an annual event, so why treat it so?

Spot the difference

Let’s take a look at the current needs from the annual performance appraisal process and then compare against the needs of performance management without the “annual” element:

The CEO needs to:

HR needs to:

Line managers need to:


The employee needs to:


The CEO needs to be assured that the management of workforce performance and development delivers the talent requirements for the organisation’s continued success.

The HR needs are actually administration processes to manage this complex and time-consuming annual event. I think it is safe to say that is not what HR professionals signed up for.

Managers need to cope with the pressure of fitting these reviews into their schedules and then complete a large amount of documentation to support the reviews.

The employees’ needs are never fully met because it is impossible to review 12 months of performance and development once per year. Quite often the objectives set in the previous year are very different to the ones the employee is currently working towards, this quickly leads to disengagement, resentment and feelings of being undervalued or unappreciated.  

So let’s look again at the needs of performance management but this time from the angle of no annual event:

CEO needs:

HR needs to:

The manager needs to:

The employee needs to:

Managing performance is a fundamental key to the success of every organisation. Annual appraisals are not going to deliver this, a year is a long time in today’s agile society.

In 1967 what did a year at work look like for most? Stable, routine, same workload day after day. Back then an annual review of an employee’s performance worked because very little changed in a year. An overall annual rating meant something back then. Time was easier to manage too, everyone worked to rigid shift patterns and most worked at the same location every day. Organisations had more managers and managers had assistants so there was plenty of resource to prepare for an annual appraisal event.

Fast forward 50 years and the world of work has become a very different place. Technology exists to manage repeat processes. Jobs are diverse. Employees work on projects, in virtual teams, remotely and their objectives change continuously. No two days are the same. If we are to assess performance it ought to be on these bite-sized projects at the point in time, when it is relevant.

Today’s workforce needs more than just a salary from their job, they need drive, excitement, passion, pride, careers and continuous feedback.

It really is time to stop trying to fit performance management into an annual event because it no longer belongs there. It’s time to move to real-time performance management.

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