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Jo Keeler

Belbin Associates


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Annual appraisals are dead. Long live…?


New research by YouGov in the UK has found that over half of UK employees think annual appraisals are “pointless” or “time consuming”, and see them as outdated.

So, are the days of annual appraisals numbered? If so, where did they go wrong, and how can we build something better?

Appraisals are often a form-filling exercise.

In many organizations, annual appraisals are merely hoops to be jumped through. In worst-case scenario, managers fill in forms on behalf of employees or award the same scores for everyone, making it truly no more than a tick-box exercise.

This isn’t just an issue of bureaucracy, either. It undermines employee engagement, making employees think that the organizational structure is outmoded and not interested in reflecting true progress. When the outcomes can include decisions about promotion and pay, it is also fundamentally unfair.

They focus on competencies

Many companies adopt a competency-based approach to performance reviews, measuring all employees against a pre-ordained list of skills and targets. But do competencies really work? It seems obvious that different individuals can successfully perform the same role in a myriad of ways, so how do we decide what’s best to measure, and how does that help the individual to grow?

Rather than trying to shape everyone into one mould, Belbin helps individuals to nurture and cultivate their strengths, and gives them strategies to mitigate weaknesses. By entering into working partnerships, Belbin Team Roles can promote balance and allow each person to thrive. And it works. Gallup’s recent studies show that allowing employees to focus on strengths increases engagement sixfold.

Managers can avoid difficult conversations

With the best will in the world, it can be difficult to strike up a conversation about what’s going wrong. But if there’s a gap between expectations and reality, it’s crucial to hear both sides of the story, in order to work towards a resolution.

Belbin doesn’t only identify strengths, it can explore an individual’s fit with their job role, and point out potential problems in their working relationships with others in the team. The Belbin reports offer managers a number of  prompts and questions which can open up discussions and – in the form of Team Roles – offers a non-confrontational language with which to approach challenging issues.

The conversations aren’t happening frequently enough

Once a year is not nearly enough to celebrate success and troubleshoot problems arising. A recent study by PwC showed that 60% of respondents reported that they would like feedback on a weekly basis, and 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. Not only this, but companies who offer regular employee feedback have, on average, 14.9% lower turnover rates than for employees who receive no feedback.[1]

Change can be most effective when people have an everyday language (such as Belbin Team Roles) to use as a framework. Since behaviour changes as people develop in their role, work that was fulfilling and challenging at the last appraisal might not offer the same opportunities for growth after a year.

Feedback needs to be timely, precise and constructive.

That means developing a method of feedback which resonates with individuals, is responsive to changes in circumstance and has the ability to tackle difficult issues sensitively and practically.

Using Belbin can do just this.

Belbin has helped thousands of organizations to recognize employee strengths and build more effective teams. 99%of our customers agreed that Belbin increased individuals’ self-understanding; 97% that Belbin helped teams to work more effectively together.

Belbin Team Roles place the emphasis on the behavioural contributions each person can make, so that employees aren’t chasing their tails to reach competency levels which may not pertain to their job and may hinder their cultivation of their strengths. As a behavioural measure, Belbin uses evidence from colleagues to support findings, and present these findings in an accessible, nonconfrontational language which helps everyone move forward.

Next Steps

To find out how the language of Belbin Team Roles can help your conversations with your team, get in touch! Email [email protected] or call us on 01223 264975. You might be interested in our managers training:



Author Profile Picture
Jo Keeler


Read more from Jo Keeler

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