Its' that time of year again for a lot of organisations: the annual 'summary', the forced 'competency' conversations, the agreeing of the next 6/12 months of 'objectives'. God help us - potentially even an end of year rating!
Let's face it - if this process didn't already exist as a tradition and convention, you certainly wouldn't invent it in 2022!
It was only at School, where we had the annual report and ratings scorecard to show our parents! Why is there even an end of year at work? OK, there may be a few annual targets like revenue to hit but performance should be reviewed if needed, when needed continuously- not when the calendar tells you; because that's real life. But that isn't convenient and feels messy to a lot of HR teams so everyone is forced through a one-size-fits-all admin heavy process - that no-one enjoys and certainly isn't improving performance.
Those 'objectives' we are looking at were a few things we captured last year (that may now not even be relevant) or ones that I remembered to get down on the objectives template at other points of this year: but it certainly doesn't represent everything I have done or how well I have overall performed this year. You see, I had hundreds of objectives this year - some are on that template, some came out of conference calls and meetings, some are in a business plan, some were emailed to me and some were asked of me across a desk. They were not all neatly and conveniently on the appraisal 'objectives' template for the purpose of the neatly-wrapped end of year review.
And then I have to attempt to agree new objectives that are cascaded from the organisations goals. Good luck with that when thinking about how to apply this to your Receptionist or a junior Administrator.
So, let's be honest - why do we carry on with these outdated processed - probably two reasons
1) The link to pay and bonus. It is still common that organisations want to rate people's performance across a year so it can be handily converted on an excel spreadsheet into a % or £ award. It just feels very fair doesn't it: but it isn't! Often the rating I get is subjectively applied with all sorts of bias (particularly the 'recency' effect) and most people will think they deserved a rating one higher than the one they were awarded in any event. Things I did 10 months ago are forgotten, my manager may have moved on mid-year, objectives we agreed are no longer relevant and so on. So many potential variables that get in the way and make the annual pay/bonus review anything but fair.
2) Evidence for the tribunal! When you go bad - I have lots of performance review evidence I can show the Tribunal. Cynical of me? Why would they even be interested in something up to a year old!
So, how about a new year's resolution that reimagines things:
- If needed, when needed performance reviews
- No more one-size-fits-all: people are individuals
- Objectives for specific trigger reasons rather than copy and paste 'carry on doing what you're doing' stuff
- Uncoupling pay and bonus from end of year reviews
- The absolute minimum of paperwork
- Ditching ridiculous documented 'evidence' re performance/competencies
- Moving to something people WANT to do!
Want some more inspiration: