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Blog - The importance of regular feedback (and why appraisals don’t work!)

The importance of regular feedback (and why appraisals don’t work!)

Posted by Tracy Powley 22/05/14

Many organisations will have just laboured through that dreaded “appraisal time of year”.   Ex HR director of BBC Lucy Adams has been very vocal recently about her belief that appraisals don’t work... http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1143475/lucy-adams-appraisals

And we agree with much of what she says. We come across so many situations where, after an appraisal, a staff member says they had no idea that was how their manager saw them... So what goes wrong?

Many managers know the theory that appraisals should be a summary of previous conversations and reviews and therefore hold no surprises for the team member.  And yet many continue to see appraisals as something separate to their day to day jobs! If you only sit down with someone once (or at best twice) a year to talk about how they are doing, no wonder it has little meaning.

So it is not necessarily appraisals themselves which are broken, but how they are used.

Four practical tips for improving feedback (and therefore appraisals!)

1. make it regular – agree an expectation with your people that you will give them regular feedback – actually have that conversation and then ensure you do it!
2. make it two way – team members should have a chance to give their managers feedback and managers should be open enough to want that feedback as part of their own ongoing development
3. create opportunities for peer feedback – many put as much store by feedback from colleagues as from managers; use nominations for awards, feedback through 360 surveys, action learning sets and peer support groups
4. give feedback without the “but” – how often do we just give positive feedback? So many team members are used to getting the awful “feedback sandwich,” that they just wait for the “but.” Look for opportunities to give unconditional praise.

You might also be interested in our blogs on giving feedback in tricky situations such as managing a top performer behaving badly or addressing “low level” but challenging behaviour at work  

Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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