A recent article by a Dr.Tim Baker in Training Journal entitled ‘Re-appraising appraisals’ begins with a humorous sideswipe at how a dismal performance appraisal might look, in scenes reminiscent of ‘The Office’, before laying out some reasonable criticisms of the appraisal process from the author’s own research and a conclusion that the appraisal process is not working.
This leads into his own suggested approach around his ‘The Five Conversations Framework’ which proposes a series of five interconnected conversations between an employee and his line manager, which happen every six months.
I wholeheartedly agree that quality conversations between a line manager and an employee are where the value lies for all parties concerned, but whether these replace a broken appraisal process, is where I may differ a little.
The reference to the ‘One-day diet’ in the title, is a reminder of the adage that ‘Only giving feeback at the annual appraisal is like dieting for one day a year and expecting to lose weight’.
If the annual appraisal is the only conversation happening during the year, then of course it won’t yield the results people want it to; everyone will throw their hands-up in the air and say ‘What’s the point? Let’s get rid of it.’ – this risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
A better question might be’ How do we effectively support the annual appraisal to create a robust performance management process?’. The debate shifts from performance appraisal to performance management, and we should then be able to discuss how a series of conversations need to precede the appraisal one. i.e. An effective objective setting conversation, ongoing feedback conversations, coaching conversations, developmental conversations, etc.
I think there is a perfectly good framework for cyclical performance management conversations already in place; it just needs to be better executed by both line managers and employees taking responsibility to come to those conversations suitably skilled and prepared.