The end of the performance review?


Yes, it’s that time of year again — when the groans of managers can be heard over the mere mention of the words, annual performance reviews. Many managers see performance appraisals as nothing more than an empty, bureaucratic exercise forced on them by HR.

My research of 1,200 HR managers across a range of industries reveals the following shortcomings of standard performance review:

  • They are a costly exercise
  • Performance reviews can be destructive
  • They are often a monologue rather than a dialogue
  • The formality of the appraisal stifles discussion
  • The infrequency of reviews
  • Appraisals are an exercise in form filing
  • Performance review are rarely followed up
  • Most people find the appraisal stressful

Please don’t get me wrong – I am not against performance feedback. In fact I believe it is one of the most important things a manager ought to be doing.

Here is an approach called The 5 ConversationsFramework that I think you will find very helpful. It is easy to implement, constructive and not bureaucratic.

The 5 Conversations’ Framework

 

The 5 Conversations’ Framework is a fresh approach to managing performance; a substitute – if you like – for the traditional performance appraisal. It is not perfect – no performance management system is – but it does address many of the weaknesses of the standard approach to appraising performance.

In a nutshell, the new approach I propose is based on five conversations between the manager and each of his or her staff over a six month period. Each of these five conversations need only last 10 minutes or so. Over the course of a year, using this system, the line manager is expected to have 10 conversations with each of his or her colleagues. The conversations are based on themes or topics. These conversations are designed to be less formal, more relaxed, more frequent and more focused than the conventional once or twice a year performance review.

Ironically, there ought to be nothing new or novel about my approach. This frequent, less formal and more focused dialogue should be something in which managers engage anyway with their colleagues. Good managers build a professional rapport and understanding between themselves and their team members by having regular conversations with each of their team members about a range of matters. The 5 Conversations’ Framework centres around key issues relating to performance. Although it ought to happen, I am sure you would agree with me that regular constructive conversations about performance rarely take place in most workplaces.

This is not to suggest that managers don’t pull up their staff when things are not done properly. While managers also have regular conversations about work-related matters, they rarely engage in a two-way dialogue about important aspects of performance. These factors are usually left until performance appraisal time. But in these forums they are usually done formally, stressfully, and less frequently; they are more generalised evaluations, and less a discussion and more a monologue. They are therefore unsurprisingly, less effective.

Tim Baker is the managing director of WINNERS AT WORK

10
Leave a reply

avatar
500
  Subscribe to receive comments  
Notify me of
Tony Roberts
Guest
Tony Roberts

I am not the slightest bit surprised at the survey findings,and in my experience I have yet to find an annual performance review processes which isn’t flawed, and in many cases highly counter-productive (for all the reasons you mention). I agree 100% with your “conversational framework” or similar, and suggest such a framework makes the annual process redundent. Even if there is an salary review linked to performance, it still doesn’t require the annual exercise in stress/wasted time/morale reduction/etc. So “bin” the annual performance appraisal!

Jon Windust
Guest
Jon Windust

There’s two bad performance review practices that need to end: 1. The event (once or twice a year reinforced by “the form”) 2. The one way street (more of a judgement rather than discussion) Not reviewing performance though would be crazy. A performance and development process should be about: ALIGNMENT There’s something we want to achieve as a group, how do we align people to that goal and give them a sense of being part of something. HOW What are the skills and behaviours needed to achieve the our plan/goals. DEVELOPMENT Where do we need to train our people to… Read more »

Christina Ogg
Guest
Christina Ogg

Nice to see a fresh approach to performance management. Like many of the HR practitioners you have surveyed I agree the standard form filling process generally doesn’t work. The challenge with any performance management process is 1. Manager Competence at managing performance 2. the human nature tendency to focus on what people aren’t good at rather than their strengths and leveraging those. 3. general reluctance if their is an issue to address it until it becomes critical. A system that encourages regular informal discussions seems a better approach – the challenge as always is encouraging manager to make time for… Read more »

Cinzia Gagliardi
Guest
Cinzia Gagliardi

What a valuable contribution. As a Clinical & Forensic Psychologist, heading up an EAP company, it is great to see the considered use of proven Organisational Psychology ideas being applied to the workplace. All too often I am asked to appraise performance management programs; which mostly resemble inquisitions, judgement, and direction. Managers prepare for such meetings looking for what the employee has done wrong, and often times the employee leaves the meetings feeling attacked. The main issue I have come to realise, is many people who manage others lack the skills necessary for open and honest communication. Many are promoted… Read more »

Dr Tim Baker
Guest
Dr Tim Baker

Thank-you Cinzia for your feedback; it is very encouraging. I agree we need to teach managers how to give (and receive feedback). This would be an better investment of time and money than teaching people how to fill out forms and continue with the out of date appraisal.

More on HRM

The end of the performance review?


Yes, it’s that time of year again — when the groans of managers can be heard over the mere mention of the words, annual performance reviews. Many managers see performance appraisals as nothing more than an empty, bureaucratic exercise forced on them by HR.

My research of 1,200 HR managers across a range of industries reveals the following shortcomings of standard performance review:

  • They are a costly exercise
  • Performance reviews can be destructive
  • They are often a monologue rather than a dialogue
  • The formality of the appraisal stifles discussion
  • The infrequency of reviews
  • Appraisals are an exercise in form filing
  • Performance review are rarely followed up
  • Most people find the appraisal stressful

Please don’t get me wrong – I am not against performance feedback. In fact I believe it is one of the most important things a manager ought to be doing.

Here is an approach called The 5 ConversationsFramework that I think you will find very helpful. It is easy to implement, constructive and not bureaucratic.

The 5 Conversations’ Framework

 

The 5 Conversations’ Framework is a fresh approach to managing performance; a substitute – if you like – for the traditional performance appraisal. It is not perfect – no performance management system is – but it does address many of the weaknesses of the standard approach to appraising performance.

In a nutshell, the new approach I propose is based on five conversations between the manager and each of his or her staff over a six month period. Each of these five conversations need only last 10 minutes or so. Over the course of a year, using this system, the line manager is expected to have 10 conversations with each of his or her colleagues. The conversations are based on themes or topics. These conversations are designed to be less formal, more relaxed, more frequent and more focused than the conventional once or twice a year performance review.

Ironically, there ought to be nothing new or novel about my approach. This frequent, less formal and more focused dialogue should be something in which managers engage anyway with their colleagues. Good managers build a professional rapport and understanding between themselves and their team members by having regular conversations with each of their team members about a range of matters. The 5 Conversations’ Framework centres around key issues relating to performance. Although it ought to happen, I am sure you would agree with me that regular constructive conversations about performance rarely take place in most workplaces.

This is not to suggest that managers don’t pull up their staff when things are not done properly. While managers also have regular conversations about work-related matters, they rarely engage in a two-way dialogue about important aspects of performance. These factors are usually left until performance appraisal time. But in these forums they are usually done formally, stressfully, and less frequently; they are more generalised evaluations, and less a discussion and more a monologue. They are therefore unsurprisingly, less effective.

Tim Baker is the managing director of WINNERS AT WORK

10
Leave a reply

avatar
500
  Subscribe to receive comments  
Notify me of
Tony Roberts
Guest
Tony Roberts

I am not the slightest bit surprised at the survey findings,and in my experience I have yet to find an annual performance review processes which isn’t flawed, and in many cases highly counter-productive (for all the reasons you mention). I agree 100% with your “conversational framework” or similar, and suggest such a framework makes the annual process redundent. Even if there is an salary review linked to performance, it still doesn’t require the annual exercise in stress/wasted time/morale reduction/etc. So “bin” the annual performance appraisal!

Jon Windust
Guest
Jon Windust

There’s two bad performance review practices that need to end: 1. The event (once or twice a year reinforced by “the form”) 2. The one way street (more of a judgement rather than discussion) Not reviewing performance though would be crazy. A performance and development process should be about: ALIGNMENT There’s something we want to achieve as a group, how do we align people to that goal and give them a sense of being part of something. HOW What are the skills and behaviours needed to achieve the our plan/goals. DEVELOPMENT Where do we need to train our people to… Read more »

Christina Ogg
Guest
Christina Ogg

Nice to see a fresh approach to performance management. Like many of the HR practitioners you have surveyed I agree the standard form filling process generally doesn’t work. The challenge with any performance management process is 1. Manager Competence at managing performance 2. the human nature tendency to focus on what people aren’t good at rather than their strengths and leveraging those. 3. general reluctance if their is an issue to address it until it becomes critical. A system that encourages regular informal discussions seems a better approach – the challenge as always is encouraging manager to make time for… Read more »

Cinzia Gagliardi
Guest
Cinzia Gagliardi

What a valuable contribution. As a Clinical & Forensic Psychologist, heading up an EAP company, it is great to see the considered use of proven Organisational Psychology ideas being applied to the workplace. All too often I am asked to appraise performance management programs; which mostly resemble inquisitions, judgement, and direction. Managers prepare for such meetings looking for what the employee has done wrong, and often times the employee leaves the meetings feeling attacked. The main issue I have come to realise, is many people who manage others lack the skills necessary for open and honest communication. Many are promoted… Read more »

Dr Tim Baker
Guest
Dr Tim Baker

Thank-you Cinzia for your feedback; it is very encouraging. I agree we need to teach managers how to give (and receive feedback). This would be an better investment of time and money than teaching people how to fill out forms and continue with the out of date appraisal.

More on HRM