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Ready to Ditch Your Performance Appraisal?

 *Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash


Last Sunday I was at a dinner party when the subject of “the week ahead” came up. 

“I have to do my annual performance reviews,” lamented a friend. “I barely know these people, and yet I have to give them a stupid performance score. I have to pretend that I have something relevant to say about how they can improve, and most of them I’ve never even met in person!” 

Naturally, my ears perked up. 

“What are you going to do?” I asked. 

“Just like everyone else, copy last year’s review.” 

“What!?” I exclaimed! (Trying not to look mortified.)

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. It’s a total buzzkill. It’s going to ruin my evening.” 

His stress level was palpable. 

Unfortunately, my friend is not alone in his hatred for performance appraisals, nor in his strategy for getting them done. 

Dare I say that across America, people do the same thing everyday… spend countless hours hammering away at seemingly worthless paperwork that doesn’t lead to any real performance change. 



But it’s not all bad. 


As part of a comprehensive needs assessment I conducted a few years ago, I interviewed dozens of leaders as they prepared to radically revise and simplify their annual performance appraisal process. 

When I asked leaders what they appreciated about the annual performance appraisal, here’s what they said…

  • “I like having a dedicated time to talk about expectations. It’s important to pause now and then and get clear on what we should be doing and how.”
  • “I enjoy being able to tell my employees how much I appreciate them.”
  • “It’s an easy marker for giving raises and step increases.”

And that is about it… 

Luckily, we can have all of those things, without the pain and suffering associated with most performance appraisals. 


Enter- Coaching. 


Coaching is a deliberate conversation between manager and direct report in which goals are clarified, progress is assessed, barriers are addressed, and plans are made.  

It’s a quality conversation, rich with questions and exploration, and it often involves checking in, re-focusing, and generating solutions to the sometimes invisible problems that hold us back from achieving a goal or performing at peak. 

When performed frequently and supported by minimal documentation, these conversations can accelerate goal achievement and improve the workplace in myriad ways. 


When done well, coaching has been shown to…

  • Create clarity
  • Enhance engagement
  • Strengthen performance
  • Enrich decision-making
  • Build confidence
  • And more!


That’s right! These simple coaching conversations can deliver ALL of the upside that managers and leaders say they WANT from the performance appraisal, without any of the unreliable numeric ratings, copying and pasting of last year’s narrative, and inauthenticity that (let’s be honest) often accompanies the annual appraisal. 


What are you waiting for!? 


If you are considering ditching your performance appraisal in favor of a (far more effective) coaching model, be sure to include these 3 critical components. 

  1. Learn to coach. Coaching might seem like a “no-brainer” but most people aren’t doing it well. Many coaching conversations are disguised “advice sessions” that don’t yield the upside of a well-managed coaching interaction. 
  2. Take notes, use a form, or capture your goals and agreements in some way so that you can reference them in your next conversation. (Don’t overcomplicate it!)
  3. Establish a process. Having at least 4 of these coaching conversations each year (which are different from your weekly 1:1) will ensure that you are addressing issues in a timely manner and having ample opportunity to give appreciation and quality feedback. 


So tell me… are you ready to ditch your performance appraisal and commit to quality coaching instead? 



Join me for my upcoming course, “Coaching for Excellence.” In this highly interactive class, you’ll learn the foundations of coaching, the 3 things every good “coaching organization” puts in place to ensure success, and the exact steps you should take if you want to improve your team’s performance dramatically. Starts March 16, 2022. LEARN MORE. 

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