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John Rice

Bowland Solutions

Sales & Marketing Director

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What are the 5 top trends in performance appraisal?


With a diverse range of clients it is always interesting to see the changes in the requests made upon us when we are developing a performance appraisal solution for a client.  The requests come from the HR team, the senior leadership team, or from the facilitated sessions we run with appraisers/appraisees.  So, we get industry trends that HR may have picked up on, the business drivers from leaders, as well as the “grass roots” requirements that evolve from practical requirements for appraisers/appraisees.  Here are the top 5 trends in performance appraisal that we have seen in the last few years.

1. A desire to gain feedback from a range of people.

Distinct from traditional developmental 360 feedback around a competency framework we often see appraisal feedback being sought from a range of people.  We have gone from this requirement being rare to it being common.  The changing nature of the workplace, of teams, and of the manager-employee relationship has driven this requirement.  The common aim is to ensure a rounded and accurate picture of performance is gained.

2. A move away from the annual grade.

In the early days of Bowland this was sacrosanct.  Now, we are either asked to remove it or in our consultation sessions we come under great pressure from the appraisers and appraisees to encourage the HR team to drop the grade.  With inevitable conflicts for those organisations who link pay to appraisal, this is a hot topic.

3. Simplify

Letting the system and process get out of the way and allowing the conversation to take pride of place has been a Bowland mantra.  New clients and our existing clients are increasingly looking to simplify the form, particularly around objective setting, to quieten down the appraisal process and leave appraisers and appraisees with the energy to have a great and meaningful conversation.

4. Continuous feedback and continuous recording

The twitter and facebook factor.  While not yet being seen as a mainstream activity we are now regularly implementing the ability to “keep the process” alive throughout the year by providing performance logs, update sections, and other continuous recording methods.

5. Focusing on the future

Appraisals were very backward focused.  What happened? What went well? What did you do wrong? What is your grade?  Increasingly (and its a good thing!) there is a focus on the objective setting, development plan, and the future.  How will we improve? How do we achieve more in the coming year?  This is a particularly positive change that leads to improved conversations.

Carefully implemented I see all of the above as positive trends.  While at Bowland we will always support the culture, requirements, and particular drivers of a client we look to share best practice and ideas to help each client make the best decisions for them.


Author Profile Picture
John Rice

Sales & Marketing Director

Read more from John Rice

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