Annual performance planning in question.

Each year it’s the same thing: I, like many managers, fill, review and approve performance plans for my employees. And I, like always, wonder how valuable this ritual really is.

In our industry, IT, where constant change and fast pace innovation are necessary conditions for success, how would anyone want to even thinks about getting annual objectives? I don’t remember one year where all my objectives or those of my employees were still valid at the end of the year. When reading this you might think “well… she needs to do a better job at planning!”. In the contrary, isn’t it a good thing that I evolve my employees’ objectives? Isn’t it sane and reassuring that I am adapting to a changing environment by questioning and changing my team’s priorities? Of course some might still think that if my strategy and plan were good I would not need to deviate from them… But who can claim that their plan lasts a year? Our world is more complex than ever and we have to make predictions and guesses all the time, some or most of them wrong. Therefore we constantly adapt. Many say that the world belongs to those who adapt to changes. Because our world is indeed a world of change.

If my success relies on my team’s ability and mine to adapt to change, why don’t HR tools support such abilities? In such circumstance how can I find the motivation to use tools that I know won’t help me to do my job right?

Does rigid annual planning reign because companies don’t trust managers to measure their employees fairly when no annual “contract” on performance is signed? If true, wouldn’t it be sad? I know that some companies have stopped doing annual performance plans. In those companies, managers and employees have replaced annual performance planning with regular reviews of team’s objectives and employees roles to make sure that all remain actual. Are employees of those companies worse off? Are those companies worse off?

I don’t want to suggest that any type of planning is bad. Indeed planning really helps any of us to imagine possible scenarios and get prepared for any of them. To be most valuable planning needs to be continuous rather than episodic, e.g. from January to March every year.

Neither do I want to suggest that we need to sign monthly performance contracts with our employees.

Who does it well and right?

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1 Response to Annual performance planning in question.

  1. “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” [Dwight D. Eisenhower]
    As such, I have had a hard time so far to find any support to the process in an IT solution. Except perhaps — there was this DROP DATABASE command… 😉

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