This question came in last night from a Practice Manager:
Its staff appraisals time, my Principal wonders if you have a different approach or any ideas on this?
So, on reading this, I smiled to myself at the memory of conversations in the 90’s that formed my thinking. Technology changes – people don’t change much.
You see, I’ve always strongly disliked the whole concept of an annual appraisal – the idea that, once a year, there would be some kind of judgement call that would determine how good, bad or indifferent an individual employee had been?
Many years ago, a client asked me to conduct his annual appraisals for him!
I reluctantly agreed and individually took each member of the team to a local coffee store for a conversation.
Apart from the fact that I became more and more wired with caffeine as the day wore on, what emerged was a deep rooted sense of resentment that they were talking to me and not him – no big surprise there – followed by a shopping list of “complaints” about conditions in the practice.
By the end of the day, I suspect that everyone of them felt a little better at having vented their feelings.
I was exhausted, depressed and somewhat anxious with the responsibility of reporting back. An insight into the dilemma faced by the Practice Manager at the end of a similar exercise.
All in all – it wasn’t a good experience and wasn’t repeated.
For many years, I’ve suggested that the word “appraisal” be removed from the dictionary of the smaller independent business – and replaced with the PPI – Personal Progress Interview.
Before we go any further, I suggest that PPIs should take place at best monthly, at worst, quarterly – reflecting the pace at which we are all now expected to live.
A year isn’t just a long time in politics.
Here is your format for a successful PPI:
Part 1 – your questions for the team member to answer:
Q1 – what do you like best about the work you do here?
Q2 – what do you like least about the work you do here?
Q3 – what would you most like to change about the work you do here?
Tip – after each question – shut up – and listen empathetically to the answer – do not get drawn in – simply note and respond.
Part 2 – feedback for you to give to the team member:
F1 – what I like best about the work you do here is…..
F2 – what I like least about the work you do here is…..
F3 – what I would most like you to change about the work you do here is….
Tip – after each feedback – shut up again – and listen empathetically to the response.
At the end of this conversation, draw up a time-activated action plan with each team member to react and respond to the results of the conversation.
Many is the time I’ve used this blog to remind you that the #1 reason the right people stay in a job is because they feel truly appreciated – #2 is fair pay – #3 is a career pathway and #4 is because they are having some fun.
Appraisals do not make people feel appreciated.
Regular PPI’s do make people feel appreciated.
In case you were wondering – the same goes for associates, therapists and hygienists, employed or freelance.
all problems exist in the absence of a good conversation
3 thoughts on “Why staff appraisals are dead – and what to do instead”
Hi Chris, as usual, well thought through and entirely appropriate!
Couple of other thoughts:
1. Expression appreciation, concern or just info should be a daily occurrence, but in context and asap after the Principal or Practice Manager have observed the behaviour/performance
2. We use a great tool to help “management” understand their people’s traits and behaviours and how these can be strengths or derailers; great for teamwork also and not expensive in the context of longer-term people relationships.
Great info. How often would you suggest to have these?
Thank you John – at best, monthly, at worst, quarterly.
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