Focus on Performance not Appraisal

 In Blogs

If you are still plodding along with annual appraisals, wasting time discussing things that happened 12 months ago, it’s time to consider how can you get real time performance data direct to your individual employees so that they can take accountability for their own performance.

I love this quote I read recently ‘Each and everyone of us, no matter what level, is accountable for our own performance’

Your new performance system should match the pace of business and customer feedback so that your people have a change to take on board satisfaction or dissatisfaction and react accordingly.  Here’s a bit of an insight into some of the changes we’ve been making.

Ever evolving objectives

With free flow of real time performance data at a corporate, department, team and individual level, we’ve found that objectives may need to change over the course of a year. Performance systems need an element of flexibility to enable managers to capture new and evolving objectives.

Manager and employee discussions

Frequent discussions, rather than annual or bi-annual, are a must. We have found that if customer feedback is flowing direct to the individual and they are taking responsibility to improve their own performance then the managers role becomes more about coaching for success than forced ratings. In our work it has also become clear that recognition (by the manager or other team members ) of good customer feedback has proven to be the best method of motivating and engaging individuals

Coaching for future success

Appraising performance is one thing. Managing performance is a whole different ball game and coaching becomes an important factor in helping the individual to take on board the real time feedback that flows from external or internal customers.

Managers should be on hand to help those individuals improve performance and develop skills that are not only beneficial to them but also add weight to the performance of the team.


Real time data places greater emphasis on teams and how they can work together to improve their own success and that of the business. We have found that intelligent use of team reward structures can encourage this, but there is no one size fits all and each structure will need to be relevant to the team and its role in the business.

Without exception, we have found that sharing learning from customer feedback and developing a team with a growth mindset who want to learn how to do things better is a sure way to secure the future success of the organisation

What can replace those darned forced ratings?

Instead of forced ratings at appraisal time, try using the questions that Deloitte’s have very kindly devised:

  • Would you award the employee the highest possible salary and benefits?
  • Would you always want this employee on your team?
  • Is this employee ready for promotion?
  • Is this person at risk of low performance?

The questions are more objective than rating them against “works well with peers,” or “takes initiative.” We like them!

Finally, when building your performance approach, heed the words of Stephen Covey ‘Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.’

Ruth Gawthorpe is the owner of The Change Directors, and knows just what it takes to refresh your Appraisal System so that it wins the hearts and minds of your people and helps your business grow. Call her on 07976 509 551 for a chat about how she can help you.

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