HR and the Weapon of Mass Distraction

A short thought piece by Daniel Denningberg

Ah, performance reviews. Dreaded by employees and managers alike, it’s the middle of the calendar year and that would ordinarily mean companies are preparing their people for mid-year reviews. The time of the year where Managers are told to sit down with their employees and talk about performance. 

Only, its not really about performance is it? 

It’s the opportunity to remind each other about the objectives that were set 6 months earlier, some of which aren’t actually relevent by this stage of the year. Thinking about it, those objectives that are still relevent aren’t really objectives at all. They’re just a list of ‘stuff’ that people do on a day to day basis.

So who is this process really for? Certainly not the managers, and absolutely not the employee. 

We’ve heard it all before haven’t we? “This is just another HR tick-box exercise” are the words we HR professionals hate to hear, and yet deep down know they have a point. Therefore why do HR teams continually fail to challenge the role that appraisals play in the modern workplace?

Do appraisals contribute positively to engaging people? Does the process enable career growth? Do these performance discussions ever focus on aspirations? Seldom, it seems, can HR teams evidence a ‘Yes’ to all three of these questions.

However, in this (kind of, soon-to-be) post Covid-19 world, companies are having to adapt their approach to performance management in this new landscape of flexible working and altered priorities. If ever there was a time for businesses to strip away the dreaded, time consuming and often counter-productive and traditional appraisal practices, then surely this is it?  Now is the time for HR professionals to influence real change and bring a new focus on building manager skills and confidence to drive continuous performance improvement day in and day out, removing the need for quarterly, bi-annual and annual reviews. Share your experiences and thoughts below…

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