Ditching appraisals – Step 6 – New assumptions

You will build a set of new assumptions in the sixth step of your business transformation program. It is critical that you get this part right, so take time to test the new assumptions before you move on.

Remembering what you have written in the statement in step 5, you need to create a set of assumptions that underly the new system.  Back in step 4, you investigated what the assumptions were that led to the previous system(s).  These were the foundation stone of the old process, and you now need to do the same for the new process.

New Assumptions

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

You should review the old assumptions, and use the ones that are still valid, build those that weren’t quite right and scrap those that were downright wrong.  Getting it wrong at this step. will lead to a new system that doesn’t quite perform as you intended.

Remember what you are trying to achieve is not merely a like-for-like replacement performance management system, but a means to change the way that the organisation behaves.  You’re trying to move away from trying to write objectives for individuals towards an environment where the individuals and teams can contribute their best to the business.  As your employees grow, then so can your business.

My advice would be to read widely about how and why our existing assumptions are wrong.  Read the books by Coens & Jenkins, Dan Pink and W Edwards Deming that are shown on my reading list, if you haven’t already.  These books, the basis of my blog, will help you to create a set of new assumptions, that will be the foundation of your businesses new culture.

As an example of the types of assumptions that you may have to change.  In your previous system, you probably had an assumption that read

“Line managers are responsible for providing feedback to improve the performance of their direct reports.”

Does this actually work in your new workplace, where the individual is really empowered?  I know that when I ask for feedback on something that I’ve done, I am then responsible for using it to change the way that I do things.  Would a better assumption be

“Individuals are responsible for gathering feedback ‘in-the-moment’ on their activities and use this to improve their performance”

This does not mean that you cannot provide impromptu feedback to individuals, or that if one person has something negative to say about an individual’s performance, that they must change immediately.  Feedback needs to be considered, discussed and any changes made with thought and in the context of the aims of the business or business unit.

There’ll be a bit of a delay to the next post, which I might write whilst on holiday.

Time again for me to wish you good luck with your business transformation!