I suppose that thousand of leaders in companies of some size have figured out this one for a long time. The process of the end of the year review is unsatisfactory but has remained untouched because:
- ‘Everybody’ does it
- It’s a ritual. Rituals have little or no efficacy (dancing around the fire, actually, does not produce rain) but are largely effective (dancing around the fire, actually, does not produce rain, but gathers all tribe members, reinforces beliefs in authority and, who knows, watch the weather forecast, it may even rain)
There are other reasons that I also discussed here, less than a year ago.
Leaving aside the ritual ( and this is going to be hard to get rid off; actually, we won’t, it will be taken over by another ritual), let’s focus on the first one: ‘everybody’ does it.
Well, big names are dropping the practice. (Attention, if you need social proof and validation by big names, keep reading)
General Electric, the greatest culprit of ‘forced ranking’ under Saint Jack Welsh, has said that enough is enough (I can hear Mr Welsh, inventor of the ‘It Depends’ flawed and dangerous School of Management, saying, well, it was needed then, but now, it’s different, because it depends). Gone are all those one-off jamborees, now replaced by ‘frequent feed back’. Since GE was at the core of the sanctification of the Bell Curve in HR, forcing everybody to fit into a deviation of the completely artificial, conceptually flawed, and unspoken fraud, normal distribution ‘of things’ (which main objective was to justify getting rid of the bottom 10%), I pray that GE also leads this movement of the silly once a year, unidirectional ‘lets see how you have done, Joe’ (unidirectional because it lacked the other 50%, ‘let’s see how you have done, boss’) and supports the new, on-going, pick the pace, forward looking, all things, all directions, performance management, and, by the way, yes, you can have as many spreadsheets as you want.
Deloitte, ah Deloitte!, did something that they do know well how to do: count. And they calculated that they were spending 2 million hours a year on ineffective rituals such as 360 degree feedback , once a year performance reviews and tsunami-style cascade of objectives (the ‘tsunami’ is mine). Now they have changed gears. So has Accenture, Adobe and others. You see? You want names? These are big.
I’m quite fond of the Adobe model: you (different parts of the organization) figure out how frequently you have to have a structured vehicle, if any. They have created ‘check ins’ when people themselves decide the checking and the scope.
The key of ‘appraising’ for me is building a picture. I often use the analogy of the family photo album. This page, the kids are in shorts by the beach; this one they have the school uniforms, grandparents come up in this one; the next one, the girl is getting a sports medal; next, everybody is skiing; next onwards there are no pictures of grandpa anymore, how come, oh well, he had a bad heart, etc. Your judgment of the family is the sum, the aggregate, the panoramic picture. Not one page. Not one time. Not one set.
Organizations need to follow the same principles as the family photo album and stop focusing on one off ‘measurements’
The time has come. Oh yes, apocalyptic as it sounds. Scrap that annual thing. It is an alibi for managerial laziness. It gets managers and leaders off the hook filing in questionnaires and ticking boxes, instead of having deep, continuous (continuos) conversations. I mean, continuous. You know, that thing called management.
Just do it.