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Annual Review Done? Think Again: here’s why!

TimBakerDr. Tim Baker, Management Consultant at Winners at Work, has just published his book entitled “The End of the Performance Review.  A new approach to appraising employee performance.”  A well-timed publication as more and more companies are revamping their traditional performance review processes and looking for alternative ways to appraise performance, based on relevant, vetted big(ger) data on someone’s progression. Dr. Tim Baker proposes in his book that performance appraisals be conducted using a 5 Conversations Framework.  We interviewed Dr. Baker on his book and below you will see the key messages from him:

Maurik: “Give us a teaser about your new book… we’re curious about why the traditional performance review is coming to an end.”

Tim: “The traditional appraisal is a form of bullying. The appraisal is usually done in the boss’s office at a time that suits the boss. The boss asks all the questions and makes the judgments. Although employees are given a say, the boss’s say is always the final one.”


Maurik: “Are there key messages you can share with us already?”

Tim: “I think the key message is that everyone wants and needs feedback, but very few get it. The appraisal is not the time for feedback. Once or twice a year is no good. Performance feedback, through an excellent tool like Katch and through my Five Conversations Framework, is the appropriate way forward.”


Maurik: “What priority should HR set?”

Tim: “I think HR should get out of the way. Their role ought to be to create a workplace culture that is conducive to feedback. Too often, HR is in the business of being the administrator: making sure people fill out their paperwork and completing their reviews. HR needs to be far more strategic and visionary. How do we cultivate a culture of performance based on good, constructive and timely feedback? This is the question; not: How do we get managers to complete their performance reviews?”


Maurik: “What triggered you to write this book?”

Tim: “I interviewed 1,200 HR managers over two years and asked them for their opinion on their current performance appraisal system. The feedback was overwhelmingly negative. Collectively they identified eight shortcomings: appraisals are a costly exercise; appraisals can be destructive; appraisals are often a monologue rather than a dialogue; the formality of the appraisal stifles discussion; appraisals are too infrequent; appraisals are an exercise in form-filling; appraisals are rarely followed up; and most people find appraisals stressful. I asked myself: There must be a better way? That’s when I developed and tested the Five Conversations Framework. The Five Conversations Framework is based on five short, sharp and focused conversations between a manager and his or her direct reports that lasts approximately 10 minutes for each conversation. The conversations include: Climate Review conversation; Strengths and Talents conversation; Opportunities for Growth conversation; Learning and Development conversation; and Innovation and Continuous Improvement conversation. You can find out more by going to www.winnersatwork.com.au.”


Maurik: “What’s the essence of continuous learning?” 

Tim: “I think the essence of continuous learning is feedback. If you have regular, honest and timely feedback and are prepared to listen to it, you can continuously improve in all facets of life. The trouble is that most of us don’t get this feedback, so we don’t know if we are on the right track or not.”


Maurik: “What changes need the organization go through to make continuous learning and reviewing a success?”

Tim: “Organisations need to value feedback – both positive and negative. As I said earlier, they need to cultivate a culture that is built on the value of feedback. In fact, show me a successful organisation, and I will show you an organisation that has mechanisms and processes in place for regular feedback.”


Maurik: “For conversations focused on the Strengths, Opportunities for Growth, and Development, how can employees prepare for this ensuring that the discussion is based on specific and relevant information?”

Tim: “Employees are expected to come to all of the conversations prepared. One way is self-reflection. Sometimes that is hard to do. So I suggest consulting colleagues. Ask them what they think might be their strengths and opportunities for growth. Use tools like Katch to collect this information. If there is a level of trust, people are generally pretty honest about their feedback.”

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Maurik: Thanks, Tim, for katching us up on your vision. Sounds like a plan, and a clear marriage: continous feedback using Katch enables specific conversations, yet these should clearly be planned. This way, the context and goals for employees and managers is clear from the start. Thanks for the talk and the work you delivered on your book!!

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