Badly-handled appraisals give performance management a bad name. Countless hours have been wasted on pointless box-ticking exercises which were only dusted off annually to frantically check that at least one objective had been achieved which, even if agreed in the first place, had, by then, been overtaken by more pressing goals anyway.  

So it is refreshing to hear about the increasing number of companies who have replaced the annual appraisal with performance management activities that are part of a broader system that sets, delivers, measures, monitors and reviews performance. Deloitte famously revamped its system in 2015 after discovering that it was spending a staggering two million hours a year on its review process, and Accenture followed suit in the same year. 

How can you introduce an effective system of ongoing feedback? Our Top Tips are a good place to start: 

1.    Collaborate
Effective performance management is an ongoing process where leaders and their teams work together to plan, monitor and review progress, future goals and development needs. 

2.     Be clear
Create a climate where clearly defined mutual expectations are set, so everyone understands how they contribute to both individual and team goals, the overall business goals, and, most importantly,  everyone knows what to expect of each other. 

Charles Hampden-Turner, an Institute of Leadership & Management Companion, remarks that, “People work for meaning. They don’t actually work for money.” Understanding the broader contribution we make to achieving our organisation’s goals, goals that we can identify with, adds meaning to our working lives.

3.    Keep the conversation going
We have all heard of SMART objectives - advice for setting targets to help individuals achieve them. But with or without SMART objectives, it is effective leadership and motivated teams that deliver sustainable high performance. Regular, ongoing timely and purposeful conversations are an important way of making sure individuals are on track and an opportunity to recognise effort and progress, as well as provide support and encouragement if needed.  

Do reward effort, as well as results, as recognising endeavour can be hugely motivating.

4.    Step in early
If objectives are not being met, the key is to find out why and address these issues early. If this doesn’t happen, a ripple of dissatisfaction can quickly affect everyone’s morale and performance. It can also, if ignored, develop into more serious grievances, or disciplinary issue, that could divert your attention as a leader away from performance and be more damaging to the rest of your team.

Check out our free webinar on Managing Performance, which looks at not only how to develop an effective performance management programme but also how to improve performance when targets are not being achieved.

How to manage performance in practice

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