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How do we deal with slackers and underperformers without appraisals?

Spend a lot more time taking responsibility to operate from people’s strengths and a lot less time worrying about how to fix people’s weaknesses. Have supportively delivered, honest conversations? Let them choose a different role that fits around their strengths? Accept that not everyone is in the right organisation?

Ending the appraisal process is not an encouragement away from difficult conversations if anything it’s an encouragement towards them. When an individual is “underperforming” we should be investing the time to understand what’s going on more from their perspective - rather than the organisation’s - and to frame the challenge in a way that thinks less of the person being flawed and more about the fact we have contributed to providing a role that doesn’t suit them. Everyone deserves a management system that gives them the best chance; annual appraisals work against this.

It’s also likely that moving beyond motivational tools like the annual appraisal to “solve” people’s deficiencies will force us to invest more energy into conflict resolution skills, culture and hiring processes. Finally, in a typical organisation, a person’s underperformance can easily be hidden or massaged away through politicking and game playing. In the new paradigm, the greater levels of openness combined with a culture of accountability to a peer group rather than a single individual make this far less likely.

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  1. John Featherby

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