Improving the annual reviews or appraisals

Piers Bishop · July 2, 2013

good annual review with smiling manager

If you groan inwardly at the thought of an appraisal, please think again – this is the biggest chance most people get in the year to influence the course of their career and their satisfaction at work.

It just needs the company and staff to see it that way – and then to have the mechanisms to make it work.

We humans run on a fairly simple operating system.  We are built to seek out and enjoy experiences that meet our biological and social needs – but we also have a powerful oppositional response, an instinctive mechanism that pushes back automatically against anything we perceive does not meet our needs and objectives.

This applies throughout our lives at work, and it means that almost anything about a company’s culture and working arrangements can either stimulate collaboration, creativity and productiveness – or generate bad feeling and pull down results.

People very rarely try to under-achieve, and are actually extremely good at getting into teams and collaborating to do things that are interesting and useful.  So when things go wrong at work it is almost always a result of the culture and environment around them not meeting their needs as human beings.

People cannot usually say why they don’t feel motivated by work, as they are not usually conscious of the real reasons.  However, we give companies a way of knowing the underlying causes, and this is a major opportunity for HR – feed the information into the review process and you will be able to set goals that people really want to achieve, and as a useful side-effect they’ll become happier, and in all probability more productive.

This is particularly important in SMEs which need to introduce formal management systems as they scale up, because they can start off with a system that works with human nature and does not generate opposition because it reveals what is getting in the way of the team working well.

This is the starting point for the right kind of conversations – not about what people are doing wrong, but about how it will be when the barriers are removed and they can work better.

The right information, properly applied, can make work a positive experience for all concerned – it stops managers fire-fighting and turns the annual review into a genuine development process that improves focus, job satisfaction and productivity for all concerned.

Improve your annual reviews

Reviews should be a positive experience for staff, leading to improved productivity and work satisfaction.  This in turn should make your life easier as a manager.  To make this happen you’ll need:

  • a way of going over last year without causing upset   
  • a way of finding out what people really need to do their best
  • a way of getting everyone to buy-in

The best way to get your team working to their full potential is to use WeThrive to find out how they truly feel.  We hope to see you soon as a WeThrive user and look forward to helping you unlock the potential of your team.