Or – Are all the current new ways just revamped old ways?


26 years ago it was 1991, I was 16 years old, the UK was in recession, unemployment was at its highest since 1988 and the Institute of Personnel Management (one of the institutes that would later become the CIPD) released a book called “The Handbook of Performance Management”

Here it is

It was given to me by the Employee Relations director of Tesco when I first was appointed into his team.

It is interesting that at the moment there is a HR revolution going on around Performance Management, with some notable companies waving the banner of removing the annual appraisals and this coupled with some wonderful headlines in the trade press has caused a bit of knee trembling and opinion in equal measure.

But is it new?

Below are some (paraphrased) quotes from a 26 year old book on Performance Management:

Is Appraisal really necessary?

Why did Anne Roe (1952) call her survey of appraisal systems in British Organisations “The Reluctant Appraiser”

Companies carry out a major overhaul of their appraisal system on average every 3 years

If only all managers gave adequate time and effort each month, week, day on feedback then would annual appraisal schemes really be needed?

They are needed to ensure that Managers who wouldn’t normally give feedback do so in a structured manner

The book goes on with some insight into HR professionals at the time and way before:

In 1970 ( Yes 1970) The Personnel Director at British Steel said “We do not call them appraisals, we find that this implies we are looking back and dissecting the past. We want our emphasis to be constructive, developmental and forward looking”

I love that before I was born people were having the same debate that we are having now.

Later in the book in the Chapter “The Feedback Loop” the IPM state that only by closing the loop can a business integrate the HR Strategy with the Business Strategy – and therefore be respected by managers who will now see the purpose of performance management.

Its all about People

So the world has changed massively in the past few decades, industries have come into being, industries have become extinct and the IPM became the CIPD.

But what didn’t change is people, oh they changed their styles, they changed their views but at the core the employee base is still people who are driven to work by very similar factors now as in 1991.

So are we just doomed to repeat the past like this?

No, the concept often isn’t wrong it just needs to be refreshed to make it relevant with today’s people, today’s technology and with your business culture, direction and goals – remember just because another organisation changes something it doesn’t mean that you have to or that it would be right for you.

So lets hear it for


This blog was written by Nick Court20160608_093820


You can connect with Nick on social media on twitter @Scruffy_Nick and LinkedIn

Or contact Nick directly on

At Cloud9 People we help all sizes of companies look at how they can add value to their people conversations, feel free to get in touch and see how we could help you.


Add yours

  1. SO much sense in this post. It’s like ditching performance management is the equivalent of all the other trendy things we see coming into workplaces and workplace stuff, without really thinking “what SHOULD it do more of and less of” and pivoting towards something better. I agree that waste is high in much of the Performance Management we’ve ritualised and habitualised, so cleansing is no bad thing.

    I keep coming back to my core tenet whenever I “taught” Performance Management to managers – that I shouldn’t be teaching them. Whether you are a casual labour hire on a building site, a fixed-term receptionist support worker or a new product design engineer, it’s YOUR work and therefore it’s incumbent on you to find out how you’re doing, share your ideas, aspirations, challenges, where you need help and development. When I was invited to “teach” all-comers, I started with a cleanse: “What’s your performance management history?” Get the crap out and redesigned it for them from those past disasters. It helped. Many people still felt it was a “done to them” exercise, cooked up to keep them in some form of subservience instead of service.

    SO I like something forward-looking; where reflection is used to project into a better version of yourself based on what you’ve learned and what your intent and aspirations are. I like it led by the person in the role and the manager is responsive, useful and considerate. I don’t like it at all linked to ratings and bonuses.

    This is a good reminder that we’ve trying to crack this nut for ages with either a pneumatic drill or a plastic fork. It’s time we did your gritty reboot and said “whose work is it anyway?” and gave it over to who most cares about what they do, the person, and help them get it right for all our sakes.

    Nice writing Nick. Love the nostalgia looping.


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