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a blog by Chris Barrow

Why staff appraisals are dead – and what to do instead

This question came in last night from a Practice Manager:

Its staff appraisals time, my Principal wonders if you have a different approach or any ideas on this?

So, on reading this, I smiled to myself at the memory of conversations in the 90’s that formed my thinking. Technology changes – people don’t change much.

You see, I’ve always strongly disliked the whole concept of an annual appraisal – the idea that, once a year, there would be some kind of judgement call that would determine how good, bad or indifferent an individual employee had been?

Many years ago, a client asked me to conduct his annual appraisals for him!

I reluctantly agreed and individually took each member of the team to a local coffee store for a conversation.

Apart from the fact that I became more and more wired with caffeine as the day wore on, what emerged was a deep rooted sense of resentment that they were talking to me and not him – no big surprise there – followed by a shopping list of “complaints” about conditions in the practice.

By the end of the day, I suspect that everyone of them felt a little better at having vented their feelings.

I was exhausted, depressed and somewhat anxious with the responsibility of reporting back. An insight into the dilemma faced by the Practice Manager at the end of a similar exercise.

All in all – it wasn’t a good experience and wasn’t repeated.

For many years, I’ve suggested that the word “appraisal” be removed from the dictionary of the smaller independent business – and replaced with the PPI – Personal Progress Interview.

Before we go any further, I suggest that PPIs should take place at best monthly, at worst, quarterly – reflecting the pace at which we are all now expected to live.

A year isn’t just a long time in politics.

Here is your format for a successful PPI:

Part 1 – your questions for the team member to answer:

Q1 – what do you like best about the work you do here?

Q2 – what do you like least about the work you do here?

Q3 – what would you most like to change about the work you do here?

Tip – after each question – shut up – and listen empathetically to the answer – do not get drawn in – simply note and respond.

Part 2 – feedback for you to give to the team member:

F1 – what I like best about the work you do here is…..

F2 – what I like least about the work you do here is…..

F3 – what I would most like you to change about the work you do here is….

Tip – after each feedback – shut up again – and listen empathetically to the response.

At the end of this conversation, draw up a time-activated action plan with each team member to react and respond to the results of the conversation.

Many is the time I’ve used this blog to remind you that the #1 reason the right people stay in a job is because they feel truly appreciated – #2 is fair pay – #3 is a career pathway and #4 is because they are having some fun.

Appraisals do not make people feel appreciated.

Regular PPI’s do make people feel appreciated.

In case you were wondering – the same goes for associates, therapists and hygienists, employed or freelance.

all problems exist in the absence of a good conversation

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