Another week, another article, or in fact another series of articles, sounding the death knell of the performance appraisal – Accenture, National Australia Bank, and Deloitte – all deciding to stop the annual performance review process, whilst moving to a more regular series of feedback conversations throughout the year.
However, if you look more closely, what is actually being scrapped is a practice of forced ranking and distribution, which was a key feature of their review processes.
We have long debated the relative merits and pitfalls of ranking individuals and/or reducing their performance over a year to a singular grade or number – but of course, performance reviews don’t have to work this way, and many organisations approach reviews with the idea that it is an opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the previous 12 months as a means to learn and improve performance in the future.
With this purpose in mind, removing a conversation at the end of the year which offers a chance for a Line Manager and team member to come together and discuss past performance in a meaningful way, seems somewhat shortsighted.
Moving to a process whereby there are regular, ongoing feedback conversations throughout the year, is certainly to be advocated and applauded – but these timely, in-the-moment, conversations are often quite tactical in nature; they are helping people track progress and keeping tacking back and forth towards their goals.
Such conversations need to be supported by a more reflective, strategic type discussion, which allows a summing up at the end of a year, and critically, prompts a conversation about learning & their development.
Performance Management is simply a series of two-way conversations, each with a specific purpose – if you don’t like the Performance Review conversation and find it meaningless, don’t scrap it, change it’s purpose to one you do like and is meaningful.