Your step-by-step guide to ditching appraisals

This post will show you the first few steps that you need to take that will allow you to move away from management by appraisal and substitute proper leadership.  Over the coming weeks, I’ll elaborate on these steps, to help you to see how change is possible.

Unfortunately, you can’t just stop doing appraisals and hope that this will improve your business. You need to think about what you actually want to happen, and then build a plan to transition from where you are now to where you want to be. As with any major change, you need to invest time and effort up front, to plan, to communicate, to test and to identify potential problems.

Image courtesy of Ohmmy3d /

Image courtesy of Ohmmy3d /

So, what are the steps that you need to take?

First, understand whether you really need to change

Now, you might find this an odd thing for me to say, as an advocate of replacing appraisals with leadership, but the key thing to any business change is to understand what the problem actually is before you leap into a massive change program.  I’ll cover the sort of things you need to do in my next post.

Second, senior management involvement, buy-in, support

You will not be successful in changing anything unless the top management actually believe what you’re telling them and REALLY support what you’re doing.  Remember, you’re going to be able to do this on your own and that business change needs resources, people, time and this all adds up to money!

Third, get the right people together

As I said above, you can’t do this on your own.  You need to assemble a team of people, the right people, to design what you’re going to do in the future.  Getting the right people together is critical to your successful delivery.  Don’t think that only this team of people can work on your program; this is the core team of credible individuals from across the area that you are changing.  DO NOT JUST ASSEMBLE ANOTHER COMMITTEE OF MANAGERS!

Fourth, look back into history

It is critical that you have a good understanding of what systems have been used before.  Understand why the current appraisal process is there, what were its aims, what were its outcomes, what did it look like, were there any underlying assumptions and how were these realised in what we saw.

We cannot replace something in our business without understanding the above points.  You might want to do this analysis of the current system and its predecessor, assuming that your business, like many, changes appraisal systems frequently.

Fifth, start to design the new process

You should start your design program by creating a set of outcomes that must be in place in your new way of working.  Review the original objective to make sure that you, your team and the management really understand where you want to get to.  You don’t want to set off in the wrong direction.

Sixth, review your assumptions

Just like before, you’ll need to make some assumptions about the new process.  It is worth comparing and contrasting these assumptions with the previous ones, and where there are significant differences, you should probably test them.

Finally, design the new system

The time to be creative!  Starting with your assumptions, the list of things that must be delivered, create some outlines of what you need to do.  You will probably reject some as you go along but, at this point, try not to reject anything.  The outcome of this process will not be the finished product.  You should focus on creating a framework that you can use to show to others.

Next steps

Once you’ve created a new framework, the hard work begins.  You have to translate your ideas into a workable solution that covers everything from communication, through training and implementation, to a means of keeping this system running and improving with time.

More about that another time!