A better way to do appraisals & development planning

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Appraisals! There I sat, & realised … It’s out of control.
There had to be a better way.

Appraisal time. There I sat. 10 direct reports. The company PDP (performance development planning) system expecting me to gather 6-10 pieces of feedback from colleagues on each of my team. Everyone with multiple business targets and development areas. Progress against each to be considered. All with the annual appraisal backdrop of ‘9 box matrix’, top 5% for accelerated leadership planning, bottom 10% for PIPs (performance improvement planning), and bonus allocation driven by forced ranking. I faced the 6-monthly survival test – to get through the electronic maze in time, and prevent the system’s in-built silliness damaging any individuals or the team altogether!

Do you recognise some of this? Performance development & appraisal out of control. Combined with, or perhaps driven by (!), senior leaders who don’t know how to set purpose, develop culture and coach their people; & who therefore default to ‘appraisal systems’.

Don’t get me wrong …. I firmly believe

  1. a) The best leaders spend much of their time on people – selecting, coaching and making space for people to be their best. Get great people, ask them the hardest questions, & be there for them when they need help or support.
  2. b) Individuals & teams need clear outcome measures which they have created & agreed; & the individual / team goals together deliver the goals of the company.

But, I realised as I stared at my mid year ‘performance development planning’, that I do not believe in relentless box filling, de-humanising, excuse-for-leadership-&-culture PDP process.

The model I believe in for people to develop & deliver their performance goals is:

Sit together, ask great questions and listen hard to understand…

  1. a) Do you want to?

Are you motivated to develop yourself in directions which contribute to your ability to perform brilliantly in this role and your next role?

  1. b) Do you know how to?

Are you missing skills that you need to unleash your potential; & if so, do we know how/where to get the training or on-the-job experience / mentoring to develop those skills?

  1. c) Are you allowed to?

Will the company give you the chance to do this development – culturally, within the scope of the role, the company systems, & crucially is there a genuine belief in your potential?

Really answer these questions, identifying 1-3 (not more!) development areas in a year, commit & create a simple plan. The initiative has to lie with the person doing the development. And the leader must create the conditions for development.

I filled in the forms (well some of them!), but I spent most of my time & energy working with each person to answer these questions, to stretch & support them to develop themselves to perform.

Peter Soer
Peter Soer
Peter combines experience as a coach, marketing leader & someone who has faced the fear of being found out. He harnesses this experience with his natural optimism & determination, to help people thrive in their work and enjoy the life they want. To achieve our dreams, we have 2 resources, time and energy – so use them well.

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