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Flatter Structures and the Rise of the Individual: Is Performance Appraisal Fit for Purpose?

Over the last few decades, there have been major advancements in how the workplace operates. How we train and develop employees, how we communicate with people through various mediums across the globe, how leaders lead and managers manage have all contributed to the working environment we see today.

However, despite the changing face of the working world, the fundamental Performance Management structure has been around for decades. Albeit with minor add-ons such as 360-degree feedback and more structured performance conversations, the traditional once or twice a year performance appraisal remains and is an approach adopted by most organisations today.

Is performance appraisal still fit for purpose?

There has long been talk of the need to change how we manage the performance of employees. With Accenture famously scrapping their performance appraisal reviews and many other organisations large and small following suit, it seems executives realise that our current approach to performance management is no longer fit for purpose.

Why is change necessary?

With the trend towards flatter organisational structures, today’s workplace no longer requires managers to be managers in the traditional bureaucratic sense. Managers are now expected to guide, support and share information, rather than instruct people what to do and how to do it. Modern day management is about inspiring people to follow your lead using soft skills like relationship building, listening and understanding.

In today’s workplace people work together to get things done taking responsibility and ownership as individuals for their output and performance development, but with the guidance of management.

This means modern day performance appraisals should follow the same structure.

What does the future look like?

People want and need constant feedback to reflect the constant change happening in the working world. These days, performance management should be a two-way conversation between employee and manager and these conversations should happen regularly.

What can we expect for the new ‘performance appraisal’?

  • Performance appraisals will no longer be once a year. They will occur seamlessly as part of an ongoing dialogue between managers and employees. Nowadays, feedback can be constantly recorded about the individual from anyone, anywhere.
  • Performance will tie more closely to organisational needs. Flatter structures and the advance of technology means up to date information can be shared so that if priorities, goals and objectives change, they can adapt their approach to fit in with the broader company aims.
  • We will have fairer reviews. Because employees work with a wider range of people from many locations across the globe, many or all of the people they work with can share what that individual does well and where they can improve, cutting down bias and making appraisals fairer.
  • It will be easier to develop individuals. With technological capability, particularly mobile access, online learning and now the introduction of gamification, people can learn from anywhere at any time and in engaging and self-managing ways.

Final thoughts

Performance management is in a state of flux. People realise the need to manage how their teams develop and the work that gets done, but new performance management is about creating relationships with people to ensure their needs and the needs of the organisation are met simultaneously. The new performance appraisal is about leading performance rather than managing it.

Do you want to talk about your performance review criteria? Leave your details and we’ll get in touch.