Friday 4 September 2015 4:07 pm

Back to work: Pause before doing away with your annual appraisals

As the new term kicks off one rather large organisation, Accenture, won’t be carrying out any more annual appraisals. Managers and junior employees alike must have extra springs in their steps as they, gleefully, head through the revolving doors and into work.

The case against is strong. The annual appraisal system is time-consuming, regimented (often just box-ticking), retrospective rather than forwarding thinking and, for sure, disengaging.

All true. But, and here’s the big but, there needs to be something in its place.

Instead of appraisals, Accenture is going to ensure that employees receive feedback from managers on an on-going basis after assignments are completed.

Another business giant, Deloitte, announced a pilot programme scheme in March with no more rankings. Evaluation would be carried out regularly throughout the year.

That’s all well and good. The only problem is that managers need to be regularly reviewing those that report into them for the model to work. Managers of course should be doing this anyway as part of the normal review process. How bad is it when a manager drops the completely out of the blue ‘failed to meet expectations’ annual review bomb?

The annual and mid-year appraisals do act as buffers for those periods when, for whatever reasons, managers have been lax at providing feedback. To do away with the fall-back, means that employers need to be acute at ensuring that all managers make proper time for review. Employees need to know how they are performing, what they are doing well and – in a constructive manner – what they could do better.

With my employment lawyer hat on, I also offer a few other words of warning.

Despite all its failings, the annual appraisal does provide a record of someone’s performance. There should be an opportunity for the employee to object to commentary and scores – and a record ought to be kept.

If an employer does feel it’s necessary to go down a poor performance procedure it could be used as evidence of shortcomings and failings. In defending employment tribunal claims, whether for unfair dismissal or discrimination, properly managed and documented appraisals could be important.

If you do want to say good bye to the end of year review, you'd better have a decent alternative.