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Performance appraisals every day?

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Performance Appraisal every day sounds slightly ‘nightmarish’ in concept to most people, but let’s consider it in the context of effective Performance Management.

An appraisal is simply a method of assessing performance; typically this is an annual affair, sometimes with an interim review at the 6 month mark.

Traditionally, it encompasses a review of objectives and progress towards their accomplishment, any obstacles that may be inhibiting performance, learning & development needs in support of meeting goals and career progression, a future look at any new goals, and a final comments section.

Reviewing these elements every day may not be practical, but a review once a week perhaps? Once a fortnight? Once a month? Once a quarter?

I suspect, as with many people I have spoken with, there is an underlying feeling that whilst once a week or fortnight might be deemed excessive or impractical, but that as you consider once a month or quarter, one starts to muse “Hmmm, maybe once a month/quarter would be sensible….perhaps once a year is pretty ineffective..”.

No great scientific study to say what is the optimum number of appraisals one should have over the course of the year, just a common sense instinct that tells most of us to say to our team members……”We really should meet more often, you know?”.

More of our clients are adhering to this approach of more regular appraisal meetings supported with a simple online form to capture the conversation….as Tesco would say “Every little helps”.
Brendan Walsh

7 Responses

  1. Continuous appraisal by team leaders
    Couldn’t agree more Don. I’ve been discussing appreciative inquiry with a couple of people recently and looking to implement their mantra of “build on what is good” rather than point out fault.

    On your first point, again I agree. What can work in certain organisations and settings is for there to be some time set aside to ‘take a moment’ and give feedback/discuss progress as a supplement to the natural day-to-day conversations. We work in a range of organisations and this needs to be done appropriately, but a considered chat with some note taking and goal setting feels like a supplement to what you describe rather than a detrimental process.

    Whether this is a managerialistic imposition as suggested elsewhere is down to the organisation and the values that underpin the activity.

    Brendan

    Brendan

  2. Continuous Appraisal
    If nothing else, this subject of appraisals provides an opportunity to talk about a number of ‘management’ issues. In relation to the subject unde discussion here, it is difficult if not impossible to convince HR folk of something that team leaders [managers] seem to grasp quite readily, and that is that they are doing this daily appraisal already. As I try to explain, every time a team leader enters their workplace and that of their team, they immediately engage in appraising whether or not things are going as they should. This occurs within seconds. It is automatic. And they act accordingly. That’s my first point.

    Second is that for as long as I can remember, appraisal has focused almost totally on correcting performance/behaviour. IF ONLY we could move to using all the appraisal tools to focus on helping people already doing things as they should, to do those things even better, then much of the questioning of appraisal value would disappear. And more importantly, the participants actually value the process. Of course you do not forget the underperformers, but the major focus needs to be in getting acceptable performance up another notch.Something maybe for HR to include in their next ‘brainstorming’ or internet chat sessions.

    So to combine points one and two, the team leader notes first those things being done as they should, and acts accordingly. Then the corrective manaagement occurs. Best of luck.

  3. Skinner, etc.
    David – many thanks for your comments.

    I guess your comments are on a wider topic and I suspect we have a similar view of great management practice although I am less despondent than you sound and find HR to be more sinned against than sinner!

    I have a systems thinking bias – in that I believe that the system is a heavy influence on behaviour. Where I would differ from you is that management intent is as you describe. With better procedure support, in my experience, managers move to a much more supportive practice.

    My post was of course much more narrower than the focus of your comment (or indeed this response). It would be great if you were to post around your general thoughts – and let me know and I’ll be sure to give me views on this wider topic.

    Cheers

    Brendan

  4. Performance without Appraisal
    Performance appraisal is quite widely practiced in the banks so why are we in this financial mess? – is it that this patronising, subjective judgemental approach is a waste of time.
    As a victim, as a senior manager and once perpetrator I believe it is a less-than-humanistic, cynical and fault finding management practice which does real harm at worst and is an embarrassment to effective managers at best.
    The approach is based on a long list of false and cynical assumptions and beliefs incorporated into a theory of psychology articulated by BF Skinner but since managers rarely study their role and HR people rarely read there is a better than even chance that they have never heard of Skinner – those who do read are probably content with the babblings of Ulrich. I won’t go through the list save offer one:
    “the employee’s individual contribution can be discerned from the contribution of the system and other managers and workers in the system”
    Any thinking manager would question that but then we don’t have many of them do we?
    So lets stop the nonsense and look at the viable alternative – what’s the declared purpose of appraisal – feedback for improvement hangs on the lips nicely – but Feedback is a systems word whereas Judgment is a hierarchical dynamic – to understand this then one has to learn and apply systems thinking – Ackoff says it quite clearly “ the performance of a system is not the sum of the parts taken separately – but the product of their interactions” but then the problem is that many of our captains have been brought up in a culture of individualism, may have been in a team but have never understood working as an integral part of that team hence we get the ridiculous awards – ‘employee of the month’ – ‘man of the match’ etc etc.
    The job of management is to manage the system but even those who prefer to coerce people might be persuaded to be informed about alternate and more effective ways of thinking about organisational performance.

  5. Continuous appraisal
    John, Alastair many thanks for your comments.

    My thoughts are along a similar vein to yours. Positive management is key – I do believe that organisations can gear the system/process to support managers.

    I hate paper, and I hate filling in forms, but a recognisable process to follow does tend to lead me to do things daily, weekly, monthly or annually. By putting supporting systems or procedures in place – not all of which should be compulsory – organisations give good managers the support they need.

    Brendan

  6. Appraisals, Continuous Improvement or Both
    This argument has been around for a million years.
    Perhaps we should look at what we are trying to achieve rather than just doing appraisals because we have to.
    The objective is surely to identify what the business needs in terms of output from an individual who is employed to do a job. This in turn gives rise to a job description which should cover the elements Who What When Where and Why
    The How is for the manager to work with the employee to achieve.
    This gives rise to daily activity and ongoing activities.
    Every employee will have strenghts and weaknesses in both hard and soft skills.
    Hard skills are easily measurable and soft skills are subjective.
    Managers come in all shapes and sizes so do their management skills. One measurement cannot fit all in equal measures.
    The need for an individual to feel they are achieving a good level of performance is a factor of job satisfaction and motivation.
    If we were to reconsider the annual appraisal as a SUMMARY of all of the years work against measurable targets and performance reports, then we are left with the HOW do we ensure that an individual is able to improve their performance throughout the year in line with business needs.
    If we now look at continuous improvement, then we can consider competencies and soft skills as part of an ongoing program where manager and subordinate work together to improve ONE area of skill (Hard or Soft) until such time as that has been achieved. This may be as little as a couple of days – or three months.
    The time taken to reach a new level of competence in a defined area then decides on the next performance improvement review.
    As an individual requires feedback on how they are doing whilst making a change to they way they are doing something, we end up with regular sessions between manager and employee as part of an ongoing process.
    Some individuals will be easier than others, but by identifying this as a process for everyone as an individual rather than as a pack, the business should benefit, the manager should benefit and the employee should feel that both the business and the management are working to help them improve.
    In conclusion – them appraisals are a piece of paper that carry little weight and last as long as the shortest memory.
    Managing staff in a positive manner for the benefit of everyone is something that we should concentrate on – after all that’s what managers are trained for isn’t it?

  7. continuous appraisal
    I would concur that there is a lot be be said for continuous appraisal BUT I feel one needs to differentiate “continuous” appraisal from the periodic in-depth appraisal. To me they should be called something different. I have always regarded continous appraisal as an integral part on one’s daily people management role, and not something separate.

    Whereas “appraisal” is the periodic (3-6 monthly) formal indepth and full scope discussion.

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