Why Every Individual Matters
Kill the Performance Review

Beyond the Performance Appraisal

Infinity symbol 21580747_sPerhaps you have heard that Accenture is abandoning performance appraisals. (If not, you can read about it here.) Whenever or however you learned this, you likely immediately wondered, “What are they going to replace them with?” For you cannot judge whether this is a good thing or not until you know that. Even then it is not as straightforward as you might think.

That is because performance appraisal is an ingrained, integral part of command and control management. The underlying philosophy is that, “Employees are paid to do what they are told and you must have some means of assessing how well (or not) they are doing.” Thus, one of the largest consultancies – and a global influencer – abandoning this dubious historical management tool may seem to be a good thing. But this is only the case if the change moves us away from that frame of thinking. 

I don’t know enough about what Accenture is proposing in its place and, ultimately, only time will tell whether it is a worthwhile change. But the signs are not good. Certainly the phrase “Performance Achievements” suggests the link to performance has not been broken, and thus neither has the legacy thinking.

If you doubt that, then perhaps the remainder of the article, will make you re-think, especially when you consider the source: the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – the largest body in the UK for professional managers and their development. It talks about Objectives and Key Results (OKR’s), which seems to be no more than a new name for Management By Objectives (MBO): a largely discredited process. The apathy and lack of co-operation when it becomes obvious that objectives cannot be achieved is an unpleasant experience for everyone.

So, you may well ask, “What do we use instead?”

To answer that let’s return to the need to break the link with performance. As a good manager you know that good performance stems from good relationships with your employees. You also understand that this an ongoing process. You wouldn’t, for example, only sit down with your children once a year to “review” their achievements. So why do that with your employees? You need to applaud every achievement, or offer encouragement for every shortcoming, at the time, just as you would for your children.

Any successful relationship requires effort, understanding and trust. This boils down to knowing, understanding and appreciating the person you are dealing with. That is the essence of my ‘Every Individual Matters’ model. It creates a strong foundation for this collaboration by building on two separate – and different – processes:

  • The ongoing, open communication of progress, problems and performance; and
  • An annual personal review that is distinct from performance and separated from reward, and that looks instead at the individual and their personal and career growth, and what they need to do in order to develop and progress.

Contact me to find out more about the ‘Every Individual Matters’ model and how it works.

Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement.”


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