Stop Wasting Time With Your Staff Appraisals - Close The Performance Gap

Hi there. Russell Stratton, President and Leadership Champion with Bluegem Learning. I work with organizations just like yours to help managers be even more effective and help them improve individual and team performance.

What I'd like to talk to you about today is something that is close to a lot of manager's hearts, and it often caused them a lot of heartache. That's the annual appraisal. If you happen to be in HR, I suggest you put your hands over your ears at the moment, because this is the bit that tends to upset my HR colleagues. I know I can say that, because having been an operational manager, I was also an HR manager. I feel like and have permission to talk about this.

The point I'm making is about the performance appraisal process. Often when I'm talking to managers in organizations that I'm working with, there's a real sense of frustration that the performance management process and the appraisal process don't really help them improve individual and team performance.

Typically, at least three quarters of participants on my programs will often say that they find that the appraisal process is a lot more process driven than it is action driven. What do they mean by that? When you talk to them, what they're saying is it tends to be driven by HR, and it tends to be focused on a box-ticking exercise to ensure the appraisals are being completed, everybody's got their performance mark, that all the competencies of the company haven't been assessed. Let's focus on how are we actually going to improve performance and help people be even better at their job.

I'll give you one quick example of this. I was talking to one manager who said they spent so much of their time on the appraisal process for very little return. One of their real problems was the number of competencies that they were assessing. I asked them, "How many competencies do you assess for the average employee?" He said, "Well, somewhere between 30 and 60." Now, that took me by surprise, 30 and 60 competencies?

I looked round the room. Other managers were nodding their head. One of his colleagues said she was assessing 68 competencies for people in their team. Can you imagine that, 68 competencies times 20 people times four times a year? It was no wonder they felt frustrated and didn't feel that they had time to get any improvement work done.

One of the things that I've talked to people about is being less focused on the process, less focused on ticking the box, doing the competency assessments, and try and distill it down into action. This was by taking much more of a coach approach, so really spending your time with people focusing on what it is that they need to be doing, how are they performing against that at the moment, find the gap, and then work with them in real time to see about how can we coach you to improve that performance and close the gap. Okay, what they're supposed to be doing, what they're doing in the moment, where's the gap in between, and then actually coach them to close the gap and improve their performance. Now, if we were thinking that managers were spending their time doing that type of activity and not spending their time doing a lot of paperwork and process-driven activity, I think they'd find that their appraisal system was a lot more effective.

I was talking to one of my clients who told me they have no appraisal process. I said, "As an ex-HR manager, I'm like, how do we even measure performance?" He said, "Simple. I sit down with my team every morning, and we focus on what needs to happen, how we're going to do it. Then I spend time supporting people delivering on the business." When you distill that down, that's really what you should be doing.

My point out to you if you're a manager sitting there frustrated about your appraisal process in your organization is cut through the process of bureaucracy and focus on those actions that help people improve their performance in real time. Remember, what do they need to be doing, how are they performing at the moment, and then coach them to close that gap.

If you'd like some more information on our excellent coaching model, check out my next video when we talk about our coach approach. In the meantime, have a great day.

Hi folks. If you enjoyed that video, make sure you subscribe to my channel so you can see other great training that I cover. If you think this training will be useful for your organization, make sure you reach out to me at, and we can talk.

#staffappraisal #performancemanagement #management #leadership #coaching

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"Bluegem Learning & Development and Corporate Culture Shift have presented two very effective and interactive workshops with our organization. Their comedic and engaging presentation style in the ‘Managing the Unmanageable’ workshop has left a lasting impression on our staff. I highly recommend this workshop if you are looking for a valuable, cost effective customer service training option."

- Jeff Gerestein, City of Brooks

"Russell produced a highly engaging HR programme that reflected our organisational issues. He is without doubt an outstanding training deliverer, challenging managers to address what can be difficult HR issues. I highly recommend Russell, and would always seek to engage Russell on future learning development opportunities."

- Sharon Gartland, DSG Consultancy Services

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Russell Stratton

Leadership Champion

RUSSELL STRATTON is an international Leadership Expert, Professionally Certified Trainer and Coach, with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. He is co-author of the book 'I Need to F@#king Talk To You - The Art Of Navigating Difficult Workplace Conversations'.


He is a Master Facilitator for Bluegem Learning's ground breaking "Leadership Success" workshop series - providing a practical toolkit for building engagement and improving individual and team performance. Using live actors in a stop/start forum theatre approach and a combination of dynamic experiential learning techniques, participants come away with a greater ability to actually perform better as employees and leaders in your organization.


He is an accomplished management education, learning & development professional with a proven track record of working with clients in the public, voluntary and private sectors to achieve lasting, measurable step changes in business performance.


Russell works internationally with a wide range of organizational cultures and with all levels from front line customer facing staff to executive management boards. Having worked as both a Personnel Manager and Operational Manager he works at both strategic and tactical levels.

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