At last!  Could the end finally be in sight for that annual ritual dreaded by both managers and staff:  the Annual Appraisal?

"You're a 4" "Oh no I'm not!"

“You’re a 4” “Oh no I’m not!”

You know the one:  the meeting you both hope will be over quickly, in which the manager loads up her gun with lots of surprise feedback ready to fire at the victim when they start arguing over what the performance rating for the year will be.

And the appraisee’s only two questions are “How much are you going to pay me next year?” and “Can I go now?”

I read today that companies like Accenture and  GE are moving towards a more ongoing approach towards performance management which is being called Agile Performance Management.  Here’s what the article’s author Pamela Harding wrote about it:

“Human Capital Institute has just launched a new two day certification course – Agile Performance Management (APM). The course provides a framework for a new process that includes setting goals; helping managers coach individuals; providing more continuous feedback, support and growth or change; and bringing more collaboration that is social and faster-moving.”

You can read the full LinkedIn article here.

According to recent research by Deloitte, 89% of companies plan to change their appraisal process in the next 18 months.

I can’t help raising a wry smile. Think about the irony of this.  Some of the largest organisations on the planet have concluded (at last – what took them so long?) that having a formal annual discussion with employees about their performance and objectives is not effective.  So instead they are going to “performance manage” through ongoing coaching and feedback.

Correct me if I’m wrong.  AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO DO BOTH?  Isn’t performance management something you do all the time, through regular reviews, feedback, coaching, revision of objectives, reprioritisation and so on?  And then every year one of these reviews happens to be more formal, with a record of the discussion being made and kept on file.  It’s called an Appraisal, but it’s no big deal, and there are no surprises.

The fact that “Agile Performance Management” is being positioned as “HR’s next big move” seems to me to be an indictment of the way managers have managed people in the past.  Oh, and maybe, just maybe, it’s an excuse for consultancies to make a shedload of new money in offering certification in the art of managing people using leading edge tools called coaching and feedback.

Let’s be more constructive just for a moment.  Whatever this says about the way people have been managed in the past, it can surely only be a good thing?  If it works, and if this becomes the latest buzzword in the corporate world, it will make a difference and individuals will benefit.  If it does lead to more quality one on one time between managers and their staff, with a more meaningful dialogue and decent feedback and support, it will improve morale and engagement and maybe even make the relentless strain of being at work more sustainable.

There is nothing new here, only what should have always been in place.

Is your organisation planning to move in this direction, or is it one of the few that is doing it right already?