I have just had a stimulating few days with some of Russia’s top HR practitioners, studying performance management for their Masters’ degree with Kingston Business School.


I was struck by the experiences of two students, both from high tech businesses.  Both their firms abandoned traditional performance appraisals in favour of regular check-in conversations, as is currently in vogue.


However, both students found this doesn’t work. They were emphatic about the benefits of annual reviews to provide the necessary overview of people and performance to enhance decision-making and planning. Moreover, they find it especially difficult to make fair and consistent decisions about pay without an annual review. Annual reviews benefit individuals too by recognising achievement and progress in a way that regular check-in conversations do not.   


One of the students believed there was more of a tendency for poor performance to drift unaddressed when formal reviews are abolished.


One of the firms in question has already reinstated annual reviews.


These experiences match mine. But this is not to say annual reviews should continue as before. On the contrary. Many things should be questioned about the annual review, starting with its purpose. Reviewing past performance, seeking improvements and holding career conversations are not compatible, as managers must go about these processes in cognitively different ways. Separating these processes – not abolishing them – leads to more productive, motivating and fruitful relationships. 



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10 October 2017


©Copyright Janice Caplan 2017