View From The Top - strategic insight

The Appraisal Is Dead - so what now?

Managing Performance

Rather than abolish the process altogether, what should you be doing to make sure that valuable feedback and goal setting happen within your organisation?

The appraisal is dead … or have reports of its death been greatly exaggerated? Organisations are more thoroughly questioning the value of annual appraisals. Some argue that this is as effective as taking a once-yearly reading of an employee’s temperature to determine their general health. More regular, meaningful and skilfully undertaken interactions are needed. So if the appraisal is in decline, how do we check progress?

More regular performance check-ins 

Regular feedback and performance checks are increasingly popular. At Stiff Science, teams carry out reviews as many times as is thought necessary over the course of the appraisal year. And at PwC, employees are equipped with an app that allows them to request feedback from their manager whenever they wish.

Make sure the feedback is valid and meaningful 

How can you discuss someone’s performance if you’ve never worked with them or only at a considerable distance? As more and more organisations work with matrix and agile ways of working it makes sense to ensure feedback comes directly from those who have had direct experience of working with you. At CareerFoundry, for instance, regular check-ins are carried out exclusively by peers as opposed to management, to ensure a more rounded view of performance.

Tailor the model to suit the organisation 

Organisations that take the time to build their own bespoke models and are prepared to revisit their value on a regular basis are the ones reaping the benefits. Ask yourself if a new performance model should be linked to an individual’s, department’s or organisation’s performance. Should assessment be based on results, values or targets? There’s no one-size fits-all solution here. An alternative way of making the appraisal process work needs to feel right.

Focus on the future 

More regular feedback in the form of performance check-ins gives you the space you need in an appraisal conversation to really focus on what lies ahead. You can explore ambitions, motivations and opportunities and agree goals and objectives that will support performance and drive career development. This makes for a much more motivational conversation than one which has a more retrospective focus.

People skilled in giving feedback are key 

Giving feedback can be tough. Receiving it can be even tougher. For regular, informal feedback to provide useful insights on personal development it needs to be accurate, well considered and well delivered. It also needs to be actively listened to and responded to with emotional intelligence. Organisations are finding that if they want their feedback culture to thrive, teaching their staff how to give and receive feedback is essential.

Encouraging managers to coach 

For feedback to move from ‘interesting insight’ to ‘performance transforming’, managers need to help map out where and how improvements can be made. In short, the modern manager needs to be a coach. Organisations that are upskilling their managers in coaching are seeing the best performance successes from their people.


The days of the one-size-fits-all, extensive form filling, once-a-year performance conversation might be dead. But that shouldn’t mean regular performance and development conversations stop happening. What we need to see instead are more regular, meaningful and relevant conversations focused on developing individuals into the roles that will see them become their best selves.



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