Indra Books Toss Out the Annual Performance Appraisals

Automatic Summary

Reimagining Performance Appraisals: Why it's Time for Change


Traditionally, performance appraisals have been a cornerstone for the corporate world, helping to evaluate the output of teams and individual employees. However, many have questioned their effectiveness and relevance in a rapidly-evolving working culture, resulting in a push for a more flexible, agile approach.

The Pitfalls of Traditional Appraisals

The conventional method of conducting performance appraisals often involves a comprehensive assessment based on a set of pre-defined metrics. While this traditional method may seem effective in theory, it often fails in practice. The process can be time-consuming, create negative feelings among employees, and often lacks the flexibility necessary for modern team dynamics. Doubts about the efficacy of this system led to a personal epiphany which resulted in a radical shift: moving away from individual-centric evaluations towards team-focused assessments.

The Switch to Team Assessments

In an effort to enhance overall team performance and build a more cohesive company culture, the focus was moved to team assessments. This move recognized the vital role that team culture plays in every facet of a company's operations, echoing sentiments shared by Joanne and Neha in their sessions on teams and culture.

The Practical Application of Team Assessments

Please "bold"In the transition to team-based assessments, a value-led approach was at the forefront. By establishing a team's values, creating a value statement and actionable goals, teams could focus on how they wanted to grow together. Enabling teams to develop their values, in line with the company's mission statement, allowed them to understand their role and contribution to the overall goals of the organization.

Bringing Tangible Value

Although there may initially be resistance from corporate leaders used to traditional individual performance reviews, team assessments have shown to bring various benefits. Firms that have switched to team-based evaluations have reported increased employee loyalty, improved communication, and enhanced team culture.


Though the shift from individual to team evaluations requires a fundamental change in thinking, it is possible and has been proven effective in various organizational setups. This method may be particularly beneficial for those companies aiming to adopt a more agile approach to their operations and, in the process, foster a more inclusive and productive work environment.

As the business world continues to evolve, it is vital that performance appraisal systems adapt and remain relevant. The move to team assessments is an exciting and promising step in this direction, demonstrating the critical importance of team culture in driving company success.

  • "Use the link provided at the top of the chat for more information about Change For All group and to connect on LinkedIn."

Video Transcription

Um I hope that everybody is doing well. I know for some of us it is late in the afternoon or even in the evening. So I really do appreciate you sticking around for the day.And I'm super excited to follow Joanne and Neha because the things that they were talking about, if you caught their sessions about teams and culture lead directly into why I chose this topic to discuss. So while I'm doing my introduction, I'm going to put a mentee pull up on my screen if you've never used it before, all you have to do is go to on your phone, your laptop, whatever device you have and you're going to type in the code on the page as soon as I get it pulled up here.

All right, you should be able to see it. So the code which is teeny tiny on your screen is 80 68 45. I'll put that in the chat 80 68 45. And you go to and you can take the poll and the poll that I'm doing right now is what type of assessments or appraisals does your organization currently use? For annual or semi annual performance appraisals. So go ahead and fill that in and while you're doing that and people are coming into the room. I'm gonna talk a little bit about how I arrived at this topic because we only have well now 19 minutes and I usually do this session in 90 minutes. So we're gonna cram as much in as we can and then you are all um welcome to connect with me after the session. I put some of my connection details at the top of the chat. Um So about five years ago, I was working in a consulting firm and it was November, which was when they did performance appraisals. And the owner of the company said all managers time to get out there and do your performance appraisals. And she sent out this word document that everybody was supposed to fill out to do a self assessment followed by the managers writing comments.

And of course, I did my bit, I copied her text and put it in an email and I sent it around to everyone in the team. And of course, then the grumbling started. Now, of course, it didn't help that. I was already doing my own grumbling because I didn't wanna do these either. They didn't provide value. They took away from the time that we all needed to work on things that were important. And it was really hard for me to put on that corporate face of, well, we're doing this for a reason with the team when I didn't believe in it either. And I got comments like, is this just so we can get our cost of living raise because that's all they were giving at the time or why are we doing this? Don't you already know what we do? Well, of course, I knew what they were doing because we talked every day and, and I just kept digging into this more and more and it was just pulling at my heart and my stomach every single time because we were doing something for the sake of doing it because it was the expected behavior of companies.

Um So for those of us just that are just joining, if you can go to type in 80 68 45 and enter the type of assessments or performance appraisals that your group um, currently uses and we're gonna go on then to the next, um, topic. So I see a couple of you have already filled in the results. We're gonna give it another minute because I have another page that of information. I want you to work on. Let me give it one more second. So after that, I thought I something has to change. Um, I would like to have multiple options for the voting. Yeah, that would be great. Unfortunately, that really actually pains me that you guys are using many different options because what's the value there? Um So after that moment, I thought, you know, I'm in a position of leadership.

I'm a director in the company. Um There were only three people over top of me, I have the power to make these changes. Um So I went to the leadership and I said, you know, this isn't working. You've charged me with transforming the company and making the company more agile. But yet you're asking me to do these things that go against everything that I'm teaching everybody to do. So bottom line, I'm not doing these anymore. And they just looked at me and shocked. Oh my gosh, what are we gonna do? What are you gonna do instead? How are we gonna assess people? And I said, we're going to do team assessments. We're going to create team culture and we're going to do the things that we're teaching people to do in all aspects of the company and not just, you know, using the words, oh, we're doing agile and really what we're doing is having little bubble teams and when it's inconvenient, then we pull out the corporate things again.

So um let's take a look at what you guys said. So we have, we don't do them. Hallelujah. I'm all for that person. So it looks like we have a good split, but most of everybody that reported in is doing manager or supervisor evaluations. All right. So while I keep talking, I'm gonna go to another slide for you to fill in what emotions do performance appraisals bring out in you. There's a typo there but it really does say you. So what emotions in this one um for the person who wanted more than one voting option, you can use more than one word this time. Um What emotions do performance appraisals bring out in you? Like what do you feel when you hear? Oh, it's time to do the performance appraisals. Um So go ahead and fill in your words. Um And we'll capture those while I keep talking. Oh I love that. The first word was frustration. That's what it brings out in. Me too. Um So after all this happened and I put my foot down on the concrete and I, I didn't get fired because I did all of this. I'm not doing this anymore thing. Um I changed how we did things. So we're gonna talk about what that looks like. But I also started researching how other people thought I'm like, maybe I'm just on a little island and everybody loves these things. And then I went to a conference and everybody was talking about how we are teaching companies the agile way of working.

But we're doing these very corporate business things that don't necessarily bring value like performance assessments. And I thought, OK, I'm on to something here. I'm not the only one feeling like this, this time has come and gone for these. Um So I love the words that you guys are filling in right now. Um We have some great words, dread, reluctant, development, frustration, annoyed. Um We have various flavors of annoyed um blah career. Oh That's an interesting one. fatigue, um development achievement. OK. So we have mixed emotions there about that word, that word. Um And you can keep filling in words while I'm talking to you and I'm not gonna close it. So as I was preparing for this talk, I thought again, maybe there's only a small group of us and this isn't really the issue that I've made it out to be. And I've now spent five years researching and changing and talking to groups. Um And I came across this article written by Megan Martin for the Kron and I'm gonna read part of it to you. The benefits of performance appraisals are that they benefit the company as well as individual employees. They increase rapport between management and employees, increase job satisfaction and improve employee sense of loyally to the company. Performance appraisals assist the employee in seeing how their role in the organization contributes to the company's overall success.

Thus increasing employee morale, all of these lead to higher productivity among employees which improves organizational productivity. Huh? I would like to see any company where that is actually what performance appraisals do. So in the chat, if you care to share, do you agree or disagree with this?

Do you agree that performance appraisals bring everybody together and create this camaraderie and this culture of, you know, Hallelujah or do you disagree? Because I have my own personal opinion. So, do you agree with that statement that everything is amazingly wonderful or do you disagree?

Yeah, we're getting a lot of disagree. I I'm right there with you. I probably put it in all capital letters when I was talking to my team about this. Um So should, should activities in the company increase job satisfaction, improve organizational productivity, contribute to the organization's success, open lines of communication and create a sensibility. Absolutely, everything that we do in a company should create those values.

But performance appraisals as one person just posted in the chat, it's a burden, performance appraisals in their native form that we know them as now do not do any of those things. And I have been looking at various organizations, whether small or large, they do not increase job satisfaction. They definitely do not increase somebody's loyalty to the company and they do not improve communication. If anything, they destroy communication. And here's an example.

Um I was talking to someone who um said they had a Scrum team. It was a software development group. They did Scrum and he said, you know, I thought everything was great. The team was really awesome. Um And then we had our annual performance appraisals and there was this one person on the team who I thought was struggling a little bit and I was trying to coach him through this and he went on the defensive and I didn't understand why. And I, so I started asking questions. Well, what happened? What were his reactions? And I said, well, think about this, you've spent the whole year being a team. Did you have any conversations with him prior to this about maybe he was doing something differently than what you expected because if not, of course, he went on the defensive when you got to performance reviews and you suddenly hit him with, hey, you're not living up to my expectations.

What ended up happening with this group was the disgruntled employee asked to be removed from the team, the supervisor very poorly handled the situation and made a comment to the rest of the team that then got them upset. And as a result, the entire team fell apart over a performance appraisal that had nothing to do with how they were working as a team. So all that team culture that they spent all year building went completely down the drain over a 30 minute performance appraisal that was not handled under the best of circumstances anyway. But if it hadn't happened at all, that team probably would have been fine. The team imploded.

They had to completely start over again building the team. And this just pushed me even more to find ways for us to ensure that everybody's getting what they're needing but not doing it in this way. Of we're filling out these assessments. Um And if for those of you that listen to um Neha Kumar and her talk just right before mine, she was talking about how she checks in with her team every day. If you're having those interactions and you've really built a team culture, then those performance appraisals become completely irrelevant. Absolutely irrelevant. So we have about nine minutes left. Let me just talk you through some ideas of things that I did with some of the teams that I coached and managed, um that completely turned things around. So remember I went in and I put my pole down in the concrete and I said, I'm not doing these anymore and I didn't get fired. And of course, the obvious response was, well, what are you going to do? So what I did was I took the company's mission statement and sat down with the leaders of the company and said, OK, this is the corporate mission statement. But what are our actual values as a company? Who are we? What are we trying to achieve?

What do we want our employees to support if they're gonna show allegiance and loyalty to the company? What does that even look like? Well, I found out that was a very, very difficult conversation to have with them because they really didn't know. And like many companies, those mission statements are a bunch of blah, blah words that were put together to look really fancy. On a website and nobody's really thought about the meaning behind them. So we had to unpack that first. Um Then I sat down with the different teams and I said, who are you as a team? And the teams that have been working together longer? That was an easier conversation. But we did a team campus and we went through and we identified the values that we saw in ourselves as each team. What were the things that were important? And then the team took the company's values and their values and put them together and each team wrote its own value statement. So first we decided, what are our values? We did a value exercise. Then we wrote a value statement, you know, what defines us as a team and each team had a different value statement, but they were all working with a combination of the corporate values and their team values to come up with that.

And then we broke those values down into goals that we wanted to achieve as a team and those goals did not have anything to do with revenue. Number of widgets made products rolled out the door. They were all about the growth of the team. How did the team wanna grow together? Because if a team can grow as a team, they're going to be higher performing and they're going to make more widgets or better widgets or provide better service by default because the more they grow as a team culture, the better they're going to be at being productive members of the company, they're going to be representing what the company wants.

So we took the values and the value statement and we came up with actionable goals that the team wanted to do for the year. Things that were going to make them better parts of the company, better parts of the team, one group, for example, started a book club. Um It was again a software development team. Um but they were also business analysts, Q A people. It was a, it was a full team and they came up with several books that they wanted to read over the course of the year that they thought were going to help them grow as a team. And then they created a wiki where they could all put their comments and they met once a month to talk about their thoughts. And then more importantly though they talked about how they could use what they were learning to enhance what they were doing and how they were showing up in the company. Um Other groups did other activities. They um there was one group that wanted to do team building outside of the company because they felt like there were some new people and they needed to get to know each other better, but there were all kinds of different things and some were more passive activities and some were more active activities.

But it helped them see who they were as people who they were as a team. Now, of course, the corporate bigwigs were like, well, great, y'all are doing Kumbaya. What am I getting out of this? So you're reading books and you're learning things and whatever, but how do I know that anything is happening? So what we did was we sat down as a group, as a team and we decided what information was ok to share with the corporate because some things have to be said in the safety of the team, ok? And other things can be shared. So as a team, we decided what we wanted to present to the company, how we wanted our values to show up how we wanted to explain them and what information we wanted to share. Then as the year went on, the team met every month to go through their goals and talk about how they were doing the progress, what they wanted to change. If anything at the six month mark, we had a retrospective just like we would, if we were doing any other type of agile to see how we were doing, how are we doing with our goals? What was going well, what wasn't going well with the goals still realistic?

Did they still tie into what the company was trying to do as a whole? And then at the end of the year, we had the annual retrospective. Did we reach our goals? What did we do. Well, what could we have done better and all of that tied together to help shape the goals for the following year? Because if there was something that we realized as a team during the year, we needed to work on that immediately fed into what was coming up for the following um year. Then as a as the leader in the team, I put all of this together again, sanitizing it with the permission of the team on what could be shared. And I sat down with the corporate leaders and said, here's where the team is, here is the value that they brought to the company through their activities. Here's how they've grown and this is what we've accomplished. Again. It didn't have anything to do about revenue. It didn't have anything to do about dollars or products or widgets because those things already had metrics, those things could already be measured. We could already see. Were we delivering on time? This was completely about the team as a whole and not about the widgets and the revenue.

Um So by doing that, we were able to show the growth and after two years, the corporate leaders that weren't so happy that I said I was throwing everything in the garbage, realized that they had people that were more dedicated than ever to being part of this company because they felt like they were part of something, they felt like they were part of a team that they could grab onto that was theirs that they owned, they controlled the destiny of it because they were creating the goals and the outcomes and they felt like they were contributing to the company because they fit in.

They had a part to play in where the company was going. And so I have been working with teams to do this now. Um For several years, it's something that I do. When I do my 12 week learning journeys, we talk about as part of the team culture. Um not performance appraisal specifically, but how to build that team culture with the values and the goals. Um And it's something that I encourage everyone to try with their company. And if you meet resistance with the corporate leaders at first because they don't wanna get rid of the three sixties or whatever else they're doing, try doing this on your own without it being an official thing and see how the team grows. And then you can say, hey, we've been doing this. Can we somehow like try to start, you know, you can negotiate how you bring that in. We are almost right at time. Like I told you, this is normally 90 minutes and I have just shoved it all down your throat in 20 minutes. Um Does anybody think that this team value system brings value there? I am using all my same words in the sentence. Do you see how this can, can replace doing those assessments where you're pitting one person against another and working as a team culture. Does this seem like something that, that makes some sense?

It's definitely something that's hard to grab a hold of if it's not what you're used to. Um But I would encourage you to keep trying it start like I said, start in the bubble if you have to and then you can convince me because you have evidence that it works. Um I am out of time. Like I said, at the top of this chat, I posted how you can connect with us. I put our socials um linked in. Um We just started a new group called Change For All where people can collaborate on how to change their organization. So please find us there. Um And I thank everybody for attending. I know for again, for some of us it's very late in the day. Um But I hope that you got something out of this and good luck and enjoy the rest of the conference. Bye everybody.