Luke Watkeys, Business Manager
They seem to be doing it in favour of regular dialogue with staff, but the question for me is, why not both? I completely agree with regular catch ups, but is there no room left in our busy work schedules for the humble appraisal anymore?
- "It takes too long; I'm busy enough without having to spend the best part of a day on it"
- "It's a tick-box exercise. We're only doing this to please HR/Senior Management"
- "Filling the form is too difficult/unwieldy"
These issues though, tend to sit on the ‘procedural’ side of things, suggesting that if the process was designed perfectly, all our appraisal woes would be sorted.
I believe that it is important to make the process as simple and easy for people. I also believe however, that this isn’t the only issue and those organisations who ditch process (in the hopes of a performance revolution) will still face resistance.
Often the issue is cultural. If you have a workplace that supports (either explicitly or implicitly) politics, poor feedback, silo working, reactive working and an inconsistent approach to management then I would suggest it’s not the performance review that needs work – it’s the culture. Managers in some organisations are also recruited without thinking whether they have the interpersonal abilities to hold an open, constructive, two-way conversation (on the good and the bad), leading to the appraisal being feared by their staff. Having poor management practice in place becomes self defeating too, as particularly when it comes to appraisals, managers will often take the lead from their own manager.
Even when we are satisfied that managers do have the skill to facilitate a decent performance review, there will still be circumstances in which an employee is loath to join in the discussion. Some people don’t like to have to reflect or open up about their work, either because it will mean coming to terms with an area of underperformance/weakness they’ve been trying to ignore, or even just because the person plain doesn’t like getting feedback (even if it’s praise).
I had my own appraisal this week and left it incredibly motivated. It helped me to focus the mind and really think strategically about myself and my work. I’ve spoken to staff in the past who have never had an appraisal- often they will report that their job feels a bit like a ‘hamster’s wheel’. Appraisals are brilliant for bookmarking our views on our work and helping to re-adjust things where necessary.
It also gave me a feeling of progression. At Real People we believe that even if an employee isn’t interested in promotion, it is still really important that all staff feel they are continually developing (maybe by taking on new areas of work, or by developing new skills). Managers who fail to do this, beware, as staff may stagnate and or leave, even if they’ve been doing the job successfully for years.
In summary, it’s really as simple as training and supporting managers to realise that having regular decent conversations that help their staff be clear on how they are getting on with their performance and development - then summarising it once a year – is no big deal.
So rock on, appraisal! It should be something that managers do out of courtesy to their staff (and because we know it helps staff to develop, perform better and love working for you) rather than ticking some form mindlessly because someone else tells you too.