Performance without Appraisal by Esther Derby: Esther writes a lot on this topic and at FP we do the normal quarterly-review thang, which seems quite sluggish, so I was curious to hear about alternatives.

  • How do you know your appraisal process is working? Most people say it doesn't work, but everyone does the same sort of thing anyway;
  • People believe performance can be measured objectively; but measure any one thing and you encourage it to be gamed - plus the stuff that's easy to count, doesn't count (e.g. Lines of Code generated) and contributions aren't always visible;
  • The data says it's virtually impossible to objectively measure performance;
  • What do we really want: high team performance, or knowing who to blame?
  • Most annual evaluations lead to an unhelpful label and in any case telling people they're below average triggers defensiveness and stops them listening;
  • Annual feedback is far too slow - you need specific information, close to the event, for it to be useful;
  • Improving individuals doesn't improve organisations! The law of crappy systems: "a crappy system will inhibit the ability of the most competent team to perform";
  • Behaviour is a function of the person and the environment; how we work has both social and technical aspects;
  • So make feedback "business as usual"; ensure it's specific, actionable information, and make sure it flows both ways (not just down the org chart);

Esther referenced an article on her site on how to create safe environments in which feedback can flow around, but I can't for the life of me determine which one of these pieces it is. Will just had to read them all, sigh... ;)