2010 FIFA World Cup

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As I ponder England’s dispirited performance in the World Cup, or to be more honest, listen to my colleagues discuss it, I wonder about what makes us great. How can we be our best? Apparently, the Spanish had nothing to lose. They could play with no fear. A united team that played to its strengths and had the spirit to win.

I read an interesting article in the FT this week from Lucy Kellaway ‘It’s time to sack appraisals’. She argues that appraisals are a waste of time.

I agree. Mostly.

Lucy suggests that real management is preferable – absolutely right. If managers stopped to give real constructive feedback on the spot – people would have a clear idea of what is expected.

However, often people don’t seize the moment. And later at appraisal time they hide behind jargon, complex templates and cut-and-paste objectives and imagine that is managing. They simply don’t have the appetite, tools or training to do it properly.

Well thought through appraisals are valuable. Even where real on the job management is happening. I’ve seen success stories where someone has been able to improve their performance and turn a corner. Or consolidate their experience to earn a promotion.

A clear roadmap of career development is often cited as a core driver for job satisfaction and the appraisal system allows for that. Put simply, people are motivated by making progress.

Engaged staff make for happy clients and a successful business.

But surely the flipside is equally important. Without appraisals the good can’t get better, but the bad can’t get fired. Ditching appraisals is the business management equivalent of issuing staff with a Cappello contract.

In a competitive world, we can’t afford to coast. Appraisals, used right, are effective tools for ensuring we perform. After all what business can succeed in an environment of enduring mediocrity?

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