Episode 118: How you can make your appraisal more effective – with Lucinda Carney of Actus

Appraisals can be an opportunity for reflection and improvement, a positive experience, so why do they so often seem like a box-ticking exercise and a massive chore that just means more work for already busy people?

What can you do in your workplace to help make performance management and appraisal processes more effective?

In this episode, we’re joined by Lucinda Carney, a chartered psychologist with over 20 years of corporate experience to discuss the purpose of appraisals, how organisations can make them more effective and what employees can do to bring about changes to the workplace appraisal.

Today’s guest

Lucinda Carney of Actus

Website: HRUprising and Actus

LinkedIn: Lucinda Carney, HRUprising, Actus

Facebook: HRUprising and Actus

YouTube: HRUprising Podcast and Actus

Instagram: Lucinda HRUprising

Twitter: Lucinda Carney and Actus

Lucinda Carney is a chartered psychologist with 20 years of corporate HR experience.  She is considered a thought-leader in a range of people management and change related business topics.  Lucinda is the Founder and CEO of Actus Performance Management Software which was launched in 2009 and has since gone from strength to strength with more than 70,000 users across the globe. 

Lucinda is an accomplished speaker, consultant and coach, and was named ‘Everywoman Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016’ and ‘Winner of one of the UK’s top 10 Women in Business 2020’ by Business Gamechanger magazine.
Lucinda hosts the No 1 ranking Podcast “The HRUprising” and her book “How to be a Change Superhero” was published in May 2020 reaching number one bestseller status in multiple Amazon categories.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [1:50] What Actus is, who they help and how they encourage people to have regular conversations.
  • [4:22] The challenges involved with developing a software product and starting a business.
  • [8:17] What the purpose of the appraisal process is.
  • [10:24] The importance of having clear objectives and regular one-to-one feedback.
  • [11:42] Existing problems with the appraisals process and the importance of people management.
  • [14:29] How an organisation’s culture affects its people management.
  • [17:06] How we can make the appraisal process better and more effective.
  • [22:26] What the purpose of the line manager is and how having regular meetings helps them achieve this.
  • [24:13] 360-degree feedback and the drawbacks of using it for performance ratings.
  • [29:57] How the objective-setting process can be managed to make it effective and helpful.
  • [32:01] How employees can influence changes in their workplaces appraisals.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.

Episode 118: How you can make your appraisal more effective - with Lucinda Carney of Actus

Jeremy Cline 0:00
The annual appraisal, is it something that you look forward to as a development opportunity, a chance to find out how you've done something that gives you some useful feedback about how you can improve over the years to come? Or is it something you dread, a form-filling exercise which neither the appraiser nor the appraisee wishes to attend, a time suck and an experience from which you really don't learn anything? If you've ever wondered how appraisals can be made better, and what you can do to help make that happen, then this is the episode for you. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:48
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. How do you know how you're doing at work? Do you have regular feedback sessions or you do only find out what people think about you during an annual appraisal process? Appraisals can seem like a massive chore for both appraiser and appraisee. But does it have to be like that? Can the appraisal process be a positive development experience for all concerned? And if so, how? To help answer these questions, I'm delighted to be joined this week by Lucinda Carney. Lucinda is a chartered psychologist with 20 years corporate HR experience, and she is the founder of Actus Performance Management Software. Lucinda also hosts the HR Uprising podcast, and is the author of the book How to Be a Change Superhero. Lucinda, welcome to Change Work Life.

Lucinda Carney 1:41
Hi, Jeremy, thank you very much for having me on.

Jeremy Cline 1:43
So, why don't we start by you telling us a bit more about what you do, what Actus is and who you help?

Lucinda Carney 1:49
Sure. So, I guess it links into the purpose of your podcast in that in 2009, I decided to stop working within corporate work environment, having been head of learning and development and various roles like that, since that's for my own business. So, I set up initially advance change as a consultancy, delivered training consultancy and change consultancy, hence the name, and quickly realised what I wanted to do is build something, or I wanted to have a product really, so something that was more scalable as a business, and I acknowledged that certainly at that time, there was very little out there in the way of appraisal software or performance management software, there wasn't very much of it out there then. That has obviously changed quite a lot. And I had the experience of doing that within my previous role, we actually built an in-house system, the whole purpose of it was to try and encourage more engaging conversations. So, more sort of regular people management conversations to mean that people feel valued, were having more meaningful relationship with their line manager, understood clearly what the expectations were around their jobs at the time. And so is the term employee engagement, it's quite a commonly understood term. And employee engagement is to do with how motivated we are to do our jobs, to bring extra sort of efforts into our jobs, and it's also linked to how long people stay in an organisation and to how much they perform. So, I became really interested in trying to encourage more meaningful ongoing conversations, as opposed to the tick box, painful appraisal that we've all experienced, and brought to market Actus, which is our software, it's been going for 10 years now. And our software now, it is all about encouraging ongoing conversations around objectives, also around developments, around career aspirations. And it also supports learning, so people can support learning, or you get 360 feedback. So, it's got a number of elements to it. But at the core, it's about encouraging people to just have regular conversations, because the evidence, in terms of the psychology evidence is that, what actually drives high performance is clear objectives and regular feedback, appraisals don't do it, appraisals are more for the organisation. So, that's what we're passionate about trying to encourage.

Jeremy Cline 4:18
What took you out of corporate? Why did you leave the corporate environment?

Lucinda Carney 4:22
I kind of felt I'd done everything that I was going to do there. So, I worked for pharmaceuticals company first, and then I worked and I've become senior in that and then moved to Siemens, which is where I was about 10 years, in the telecoms bit, and I'd become quite senior in that role. I'd ended up being responsible for all elements of learning and development. And I got to a point where I just felt like I wasn't learning anything anymore. And I live in Hertfordshire, and I felt that my next thing I'd have to do is probably going to London to go to the next-level job and challenge, and I didn't want to do that, I had young children, and I didn't really want to start having to commute on a regular basis. I think I just felt it was time to try a new challenge and do something different. So, it was kind of moving away from, I like to change, I do like change, I like to be stimulated and challenged, and the role had became quite samey. They were going through a transformation, they were going to be bought as well. So, in actual fact, I could see that was coming, so I've had the opportunity to negotiate myself a redundancy exit. So, that was quite helpful.

Jeremy Cline 5:25
What was it like developing a software product? Because you come from an HR background, rather than the software and computer background.

Lucinda Carney 5:33

Jeremy Cline 5:33
And so, what was that like? I mean, that must have been quite scary actually.

Lucinda Carney 5:38
Naivety is a wonderful thing. I just did not realise how hard can it be to build some software, and then you sell it to lots of other people, and then it's really happy days, you're making money from selling after creating something once, which is complete tosh. But it is a learning curve in terms of that, there's so much to learn with it. And my friends who are more technical than I am, clearly I don't develop the software, think it's hilarious that I'm in a software business, given that I am much more of a people person. But the benefit, I guess, was that I knew clearly what software needed to do. So, our customers are people who do the job that I used to do. So, very often, yeah, so people in an organisation, in a blue-chip organisation or a midsize organisation, I understood the pain points that I wanted our software to address. So, that was the benefit in terms of, I had the vision, in terms of developing it, we went through various challenging, there's a point when I was earning money through delivering training in order to pay for the developers. So, I'd be up at the crack of dawn, so we had the developers who were in India at the time, so I'd be on a call with them five o'clock in the morning telling them what to do, and telling them what the software needed to do when they'd be developing it, and then I'd be going off and doing a day's training. So, it was really, really challenging. And I was also running a business, setting up a business is really challenging, because I was doing everything from that, doing the sales, also funding it, I was primary, well, I am the primary breadwinner as well. So, it wasn't an option just to play around at it. Fundamentally, if I was to do software, would I do software again, yes, it is a good, it's definitely a good thing to do in terms of, people do need software solutions, but you have to keep on investing and investing and investing. So, it's not something to take on lightly in that, you know, we've got full-time developers, who we're always having to keep the stuff with, whether it's adding new functionality, making sure it's secure, it's just a never-ending element to it. So, that's the challenge, I was facing, probably I would have gone and got some investment earlier in hindsight, because I was quite early to market, had quite strong vision, knew what it needed to do, and probably could have scaled it faster, had I in hindsight, thought about it that way.

Jeremy Cline 8:03
Interesting. It's very interesting to hear the background. So, let's start with a really broad question. What is the purpose of the appraisal process?

Lucinda Carney 8:17
I think it depends on whose perspective you're looking at it from. And the reality is, I would say the purpose should be to engage, as I was talking about employee engagement, it should be to ensure that somebody has clarity about their performance, their expectations, they feel valued, they understand what their priorities are, and they feel that that the organisation values them as a person, and they know their role in it. So, that's what it really should be about. And I think it's a punctuation point. For some organisations, it's seen as having, it's something that's needed, if they do performance related pay, for example, or if they want to do career planning. So, that's why it becomes an annual process for lots of organisations. But that's more of an internal driver that HR needed to do something, in order to be able to decide who gets paid what. So, that's where it becomes a challenge, I think. But at the core of it, the purpose is to get somebody, to make sure someone knows what's expected of them and they feel developed and supported. And that's why a once-a-year process doesn't work, even less so with hybrid working, working remotely, people need to be talking at least monthly with their line managers, at the early days of homework, I think even weekly, some people would need to. So, the issue is the fact that the conversations are not happening on a regular basis enough, or quality conversations might not be, and then, it becomes a sort of annual, feels like it's really lengthy and a bit too painful. And people also build up, get worried about it and it builds up to it as well. You can get quite anxious about it. And that happens if people, again, are not having those regular conversations with their line managers throughout the year about, not just tactics, but about how they're doing, what their objectives are and what's expected and how they're performing.

Jeremy Cline 10:15
And these regular conversations, presumably, you're talking about one-on-one conversations, you're not just talking about the regular weekly team meeting or something like that.

Lucinda Carney 10:23
I think it doesn't need to be, people need to have clear objectives or clear deliverables. They need to know what they're accountable for, and have some level of feedback against how they're doing against those accountabilities. And I think, yeah, a monthly one-to-one is a really good frequency. The challenge you often have with informal one-to-ones is that they're quite tactical. So, they might say, the line manager might be sort of saying, 'How are you doing with that? And have you done that? Have you done that?' Whereas actually, making a little bit more strategic and saying, 'Great, we've got this overall business objective that you're responsible for completing, how are we doing against that? What support do you need? What development do you need?' So, it's more of a coaching conversation. And if there was more of that going on, then actually, arguably, you don't really need the appraisal. It's just a punctuation. Unless there's a punctuation point, it is much, much less onerous a task as well, if those conversations are happening throughout the year.

Jeremy Cline 11:20
So, what's gone wrong with appraisals then? What is it that in many organisations, it is this annual box-ticking exercise? I mean, I have heard appraisers say, 'We're doing this because we have to do it', because they appear to have any interest in the process themselves, little else what the appraisee thinks. So, what's gone wrong with it?

Lucinda Carney 11:41
Well, that, you just put that example, because we have to do it, that is one of the things that's wrong with it. And I think it's not actually the appraisal's fault, to personify the appraisal, it's to do with the appraiser not seeing the value in the exercise and not seeing the bigger picture of why it's so important to have that conversation. And I actually, personally, think the issue is more about, particularly here in the UK, we don't value the role of the line manager. That's what I think the issue is. So, actually, people managers, they don't see, all too often, they might be a player, a player-manager, so they've got loads of work through themselves, and managing people is something that they don't see a value in, or they see it as a blocker to their day job. And also, we're particularly poor, as a nation, at investing in training line managers, so they don't understand or feel that that's valued. Loads of people go into a line management role, they learn on their feet, they've never had good line management models from their managers. So, they go through the motions from it. So, fundamentally, people just not, if we don't see that line management, if we only see line management as something that you have to do, as a blocker to the day job, or it's something that it's a career move, is the only way to get a pay rise is to become a manager of people, and I haven't got the people gene. I'm really not that interested in that, I'm not motivated, then I would see the appraisal as something that I've got to go through the motions. If I am passionate about getting the best out of my people, and I feel respected, and my organisation culture emphasises the value of people management, and I've been trained in it, then I understand that it's really important, it's one of the most important conversations I can have. I should be talking to people regularly and helping them and supporting them and helping them to perform. So, to me, this here, I believe is the way we view people management, we don't respect people management as a profession particularly, we don't value it, we don't invest in it. Therefore, people perceive appraisal as just being a valueless activity, when actually, it's probably one of the most important, also the people management is very, very important, and appraisal is part of that,

Jeremy Cline 13:58
Does this failure to recognise and support line managers, is this an organisational thing? Presumably, it must be rather than it just being the wrong person. I mean, someone can stand a better chance of being a better line manager if they're properly supported and empowered to do so, without worrying about how much of their own work they've got to do, as well as these low management responsibilities.

Lucinda Carney 14:26
It is interesting, because it isn't an organisational level, I guess, a cultural level. So, you look at it in lots of ways in terms of, is line management valued within a particular culture or an organization, and that would be to what degree are people supported, if they go into man management role, are they given training, are they supported, is there a clear set of expectations as to what people, what good people management looks like within that organisation, do they expect people to have monthly one-to-ones? Also, is it HR driven, or is this something that's really role-modelled, like good quality people management throughout the organisation, from the board right way down, senior managers all the way down, do they model one-to-ones, because that goes a long way to doing it. And those are prioritised and seen as key. So, it's really not rocket science at all. But I think it's also hard, because people get so busy, we all feel very busy, we're always in a rush, if things are not scheduled in and seem to be important, then they soon sort of get pushed to one side. And again, I think it gives you the impression that people are not valued in the organisation and long-term, you'll have that engagement gap. And then finding time to train people. So, managers are perhaps not being given training. One of the things that's been really exciting over the last 18 months for us is that the advent of Zoom as we're talking to each other now, and using virtual means, yeah, due to COVID, we all became, suddenly it was something which you would consider doing. And so, we now run a virtual manager programme. And that has been so popular during COVID. And the interesting thing about it is because it's blocks of two hours, and it's virtual, somehow everybody, you can make the time to do it. Whereas I think traditional line management training programmes would be two or three days, and people would be too busy to go on it, or it was too expensive as well. So, those are two things, expensive in terms of time and expensive in terms of investment, so people wouldn't get that training. Whereas now, we can look at it in a virtual way. So, maybe there's an opportunity for us to educate the managers out there and give them the right skills, that in turn means that they are going to have better quality conversations, and people will get better experiences and appraisals won't be quite so painful.

Jeremy Cline 16:48
So, aside from better line management training and better supporting and empowering them, what are some of the things that can be done with the appraisal process to make it better and more effective?

Lucinda Carney 17:05
First of all, I would say it should be seen as part of an overall annual cycle, right, in terms of the process, so that it isn't just something which is looking backwards, it needs to be a balance in terms of where are we now and also looking forwards. One of the things that we've found works quite well, in order to do that, then each organisation, it's really hard to make it happen unless there is some sort of timetable, just in reality, unless you set an expectation clearly, as an organisation, it's quite hard to have consistency of approach. So, when I've talked to these businesses, for example, they said, 'Oh, we've just ditched appraisals, I hate appraisals, we've just chucked it out the window.' When you explore it, so okay, you know, how are people feeling, people will, if they end up putting something instead, they sort of say maybe one-to-ones, or also they have to put something in, because managers do not consistently just talk to people all year round, unless there is some sort of process, and some sort of clarity of expectation. So, they might have rebranded it or just called it something else. One model that works quite well, that we've supported a number of our clients to do, is to break it out. So, if you think one of the reasons that the epic end-of-year appraisal can be quite painful is because you're talking about objectives, you might be talking about behaviours and competencies, you might be talking about development and career, and your overall evaluation of performance. That's a lot to talk about in one meeting. And the other thing with that is that there's quite a lot of evidence out there that managers are not always open or honest, if they're having to rate performance, if they think it's going to impact people's salary, or remuneration. But they are more open and honest about things, if they think it's for people's development. So, we've talked about maybe, if you visualise a clock, it's easy to think about it, a cycle where, at the start of the year, so 12 o'clock, one o'clock, you want to sit down and clearly agree expectations. So, you do need to agree what objectives are, what the deliverables are for this year, really important also in a virtual environment, so that people are clear about what's expected of them, when they're not seeing their manager on a daily basis, and they know what they need to do. You should be having regular one-to-ones monthly anyway, but at the end of, let's say, quarter one, that would be an opportunity, in my view, to talk about development. Now, the reason I think you should talk about development then is that I've had a quarter to get on with my objectives, and I might realise that I need some training or support in a certain area in order to be successful. Historically, if you talk about training at the end of the year, that kind of is saying, well, why are you talking about it there? Is it just a thank you, what's the purpose of it? But actually, training should be about supporting you to perform or it should have a purpose to it. So, for me, I think If you talk about that at the end of quarter one, that's one less thing to talk about at the appraisal, but you can have a conversation there. At the six months point, that's a really good idea to discuss, yes, where are people getting their objectives, so are we on track, are we off track, are those objectives still relevant. So, it's a bit of a touch base there. But that might also be a good opportunity, if you have behaviours, or values or something, maybe that's when we have a conversation about how you're meeting your behavioural expectations. So, that could be discussed in that mid-year point. And then, at the end of quarter three, that's getting towards the end of the year, so you know if someone's really doing well, they're on track, it's getting to the point where they might be thinking about what they want to do next, that's a great time to maybe talk about people's career aspirations. So, someone is performing, then, why don't we have that career aspirations conversation? If you break that out, then what you'll find is then, the end-of-year conversation is really quite simple. It's a wrap up where we are, how did we get on overall on our objectives, and what are we going to do next year, so it's quite forward thinking. So, it's not as painful, but you've had four really good quality, meaningful conversations with slightly different topics at different points in the year, so then you get a nice cycle to it as well.

Jeremy Cline 21:15
I'm thinking of appraisals which I have typically been part of, and it is this meeting which you described, it's this annual thing where you talk about everything. And I've looked at line managers' diaries around that time, and it's basically like a week almost chock full of those meetings with virtually no time to do anything else. I'm kind of looking at that line manager, and it's now being suggested to them that they shouldn't just be having one meeting with people a year, they should be having four meetings with people a year, and suddenly, their diary is going to get fuller and fuller and fuller. And I'm sure this relates back to the point you were making about supporting line managers and where the priorities lie and the culture of the business, but for a line manager who does have other work to do, a job to do, what's the sell for them in terms of having these more regular meetings, that it doesn't seem to them as just being this massive time suck?

Lucinda Carney 22:23
We do hear that regularly. So, you did answer a question, I would absolutely say what is the purpose of the line manager. So, the purpose of the line manager role is to help people get results. It's to achieve results through other people. If you've got, you're maybe also an individual contributor, and I appreciate that this is eating into time, but remember, this is one of the prime purposes of being a people manager is to support others in getting results. And you can't achieve anything once a year. If you're going on a diet, you wouldn't just get on scales once a year and expect to perform, you know, to get the weight loss that you wanted to get. People need to have more frequent conversations. In a practical point of view, I mean, when I work with some of the public sector organisations, I think some of their appraisals are supposed to be three hours, they've got a massive long documents. Arguably, you are shortening that end-of-year appraisal, if you are talking more regularly, because you're talking throughout the end, and what I was describing in terms of that model, in principle, you're taking chunks of conversation out of the end-of-year appraisal, the development bit, the talent bit, career aspirations piece, and you're discussing those. So, you're taking your three hour epic, and you're dividing it into four 45-minute sessions maybe. So, in theory, you're not spending more time. The reality is, you probably are spending a bit more time, but you will be getting a lot more value out of it, and a lot more engagements. And it's the right thing to do. But it is about us prioritising these things and scheduling them in to our calendars, and seeing importance of them.

Jeremy Cline 23:59
Where do you stand on 360-degree appraisals? So, line managers getting feedback from other people. Is it nice to have? Is it not necessary? Is it absolutely essential?

Lucinda Carney 24:13
Oh, it's really contentious one, that. Funny enough, I've just put a podcast episode out today on 360 and managing a programme. Personally, I am not a big fan of 360 feedback appraisal forms. And let me explain what I mean by that, because I think there's a difference. I'm a very big fan of 360-degree feedback as a development tool. So, you do sometimes see these organisations that they almost want to go out to everyone and say, 'Right, has this person performed or not?', and they get this 360, and it comes back, and it's almost the computer says that you are a 3.7 in this area. I'm not keen on that approach to appraisal, because I think it takes away the responsibility from the line manager, as to the line manager should be having a conversation about what the expectations are for that role, and providing feedback as to whether those are being met or not. In most circumstances, I do appreciate that, let's say you're managing someone that you don't see, that you might not get it then, but I don't really feel that 360 feedback is, I don't think it should be linked to reward personally, I think it should be used as a development tool. Again, pointing you back at the comment I made earlier, this was research from the CIPD, it was a white paper called Could Do Better, where they showed that people were not honest in terms of feedback, in terms of providing ratings and feedback, if it's linked to pay, but they were about behaviours that was developmental. I think 360 is much better to be used as something where it's observable behaviours, and that it's built to something that you can develop and support yourself and grow from, as opposed to something which is, right, this is what your performance rating is going to be based on this feedback.

Jeremy Cline 26:02
So, rather than the feedback being based on score, it's being based on perhaps more open questions, what does this person do well, what do they do more of, what should they stop doing, that kind of thing.

Lucinda Carney 26:15
Yeah, definitely. Again, though, that would often be to do with behaviours, wouldn't it though, rather than do you think this person has met their performance objectives. Because if you've written really good performance objectives, that are smart, then it shouldn't be a subjective opinion as to whether or not they've been achieved. If they're deliverables, you should know whether those, both parties should know whether it's been achieved. Whereas I think 360 feedback, that would be exactly as you're saying, you know, what skills, what behaviours does this person demonstrate really, really well, and what behaviours could they tweak or adjust or improve, and that's much more constructive. And I feel that's where it fits. It is helpful to get feedback from other people, particularly in a virtual environment when we're not seeing people all the time. But I think it's striking that balance, really. So, if you've got smart objects, it should be easy to evaluate whether people meet in performance, and behaviours, we can develop and grow, and we should feel safe. The feedback in itself is really, really loaded, people get very, very nervous. That's another reason people get nervous about, the appraisal, I read something about, neuroscience referenced about this, which they were saying that it triggers our fight or flight response. So, if you say I want to give you some feedback, people get really quite nervous about it. So, it does need to be managed really, really carefully, and if it's linked to remuneration, it becomes very highly charged. And I do think that managers should learn to own the feedback, their own feedback, and not be able to just pass it off to other people. So, there needs to be a level of responsibility and accountability from them.

Jeremy Cline 27:50
And I can certainly see it being very valuable, having this 360 feedback, where you're in a role which is quite autonomous. So, you know, I'm a lawyer by background, and quite often, I will just go in effectively do my own thing. I mean, I'll have people phoning me up, and I'll do the work and give them advice, and my line manager might never know about it. And so, the only way that I can find out about what these people think of me, and the only way my line manager can find out what people think of me is by asking them, I think.

Lucinda Carney 28:27
Yes, and it's really popular in professional services, and it has a really good, partners and things like that, it has a really good place there. But it is a development tool there, usually. You wouldn't ideally say, 'Okay, you're going to get a pay rise or not because of what's been said in 360.' What it should be about is you delivered that clients support really, really effectively, it would have been even better if you did this. So, it should be more about learning, rather than evaluation, I believe.

Jeremy Cline 28:58
Yeah, that makes complete sense. You've mentioned objectives and smart objectives a few times. Objectives is one of the things, I think, is particularly challenging. And there will be cases where the appraisee is effectively asked, you know, they might have one or two objectives, which are non-negotiable. So, you know, going back to professional services, it might be recording X number of chargeable hours in a year or a certain amount, or that kind of thing. But then otherwise, they're asked to just go and come up with some objectives. And then the person who's being appraised thinks, 'What on earth am I supposed to put here that's meaningful, that's going to be helpful?' How can the objective-setting process be managed so that it is effective, helpful and doesn't feel like you're just kind of grabbing onto something just to put anything in there?

Lucinda Carney 29:57
This again, is about employee engagement and to what degree people understand how their role fits into the overall organisation. And again, behavioural science evidence is that, if we have a goal that we consider to be stretching, but achievable, it's more motivational, therefore, it is better if we are involved in setting it, because I have a better idea of what's stretching and achievable. But also, do we understand how our little bit of the jigsaw fits into the overall purpose of the organisation? So, is it relevant to the overall strategy? So, how can we make it that, largely, if we're in an organisation, do you know what the strategy is? Do you know what the overall goals are? Do you believe in the purpose of your job, as to what you're trying to achieve and why? So, it's really about us understanding why we've got an objective there, and why it's important. So, if you are in a law firm, for example, you might have something to do with a specific area or improving something, so it might be about justice, or in the NHS it might be about delivering better patient value, helping people feel that why, that motivation as to why having that objective is important, and linking it to the overall purpose, in itself is more motivation and more engaging. And the problem we have is where people feel like they're going through the motions, they'll just kind of think of some objectives again, think of some objectives, that's the same thing as, well, what's the point of the appraisal. Well, we're all here to do a job. And our job presumably means something within the organisation. So, it's about linking its purpose, for me, it's the key that people understand how to buy in.

Jeremy Cline 31:38
So, final question. There's an employee who listens to what you've been saying, and they think about how appraisals are done at their place, and they think, 'Oh, wow, we could do a heck of a lot better.' But they're not a line manager, they're part of a team or whatever. What's your advice for that person about how they might be able to start to influence some changes at their own place?

Lucinda Carney 32:02
Ask your manager for a one-to-one, take control, it doesn't have to be done to you. Actually, it's your appraisal, offer to prep the one-to-one, suggest some praise, set some objectives, ask for developments, book the time in your manager's diary, as to when you want these meetings and take the lead yourself. Say, 'I think I can do this, or I'd like this development, or this is where I want to go, can you help me do it?' So, just very few managers will kind of push back on that really. But just take control, it's your future. It's your appraisal, it's your career, take ownership of it, and make it happen, I'd say.

Jeremy Cline 32:39
Brilliant, that's a very, very wise advice. If someone either wants to dive down into this in more detail, or if there's something which particularly has helped you on your journey, are there any particular resources which you can point them to?

Lucinda Carney 32:55
There's a couple of things that spring to mind on this topic. One is a book, and one is a podcast. So, there's a podcast called Squiggly Careers. In fact, they have also a book as well, it's a really popular podcast. But I think it's very practical, and it would play to what we've just talked about there, which is take control of your own career, your own appraisal, those sorts of things. So, I think that's got some really good episodes in there, some really practical stuff aimed at the individual. And it could well be then an individual who might be looking to change career or something like that, as well. So, I think that's worth checking out. A bit more technical, there's a book called The Leadership Pipeline, which talks about why we have this issue with people management. So, it talks about the transitions that we go through, from being an individual contributor to, if we move to be a team leader, what we should let go of some behaviours and take on some others. And then, if you go further up the organisation, how management should change. So, it's about 20 years old, it's by Charan, with C-H-A-R-A-N, Drotter and Noel. But that was a really, really powerful, powerful book I found. So, if you're maybe in an organisation as a manager, or in HR or something, then that's a good book to look at.

Jeremy Cline 34:10
Brilliant. I'll put links to those in the show notes. And where can people get hold of you?

Lucinda Carney 34:14
I'm on LinkedIn, probably as my primary social media, but I have got LinkedIn. So, it's Lucinda Carney at LinkedIn. You can also go via the HR Uprising podcast, which I host, and I'm on Twitter, Lucinda Carney, you''ll be able to find me quite easily.

Jeremy Cline 34:31
Brilliant. Okay, links those in the show notes as well. Well, Lucinda, definitely a topic we could dive down for a bit longer, but as an intro, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Lucinda Carney 34:43
Thank you very much for having me.

Jeremy Cline 34:45
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Lucinda Carney. I was really surprised by how much Lucinda focused on line management generally, and I don't know why that surprised me when it makes perfect sense. If line managers aren't encouraged and supported to find out regularly how their direct reports are doing, then it's no wonder that the annual appraisal system just turns into a bit of a rush, where you're trying to cram everything into one annual meeting, usually unsuccessfully. I'm starting to realise just how much this leadership piece feeds into so much that companies can be doing better for their employees. Whether it's ongoing performance management, as we discussed with Lucinda, or things like making sure your team is doing the work that makes them happy, and that they're good at, something we discussed with Jack Broadley in Episode 111, and also Ken Coleman in 116. If you're a line manage yourself, I'd be really interested to hear your reflections on what Lucinda was saying. And if not, I'd also be interested in hearing from you as to what your experience has been with line managers. Is line management at your place something which is valued and encouraged, and time is made for it, or is it something which people with already too much to do are just doing off the side of their desks as and when they can and just not really doing it properly? Show notes are on the website changeworklife.com/118 for episode 118. And I know I said this last week, but it'd be really helpful if you would leave a review on Apple Podcasts. So, you can go to changeworklife.com/apple, that's changeworklife.com/apple, that should take you straight to Apple Podcasts, if you could leave a review, by preference a five star review, that'd be great. But it really does help people know that this is a show with valuable content and it's worth listening to. So, if you could just spend a couple of minutes leaving a review, that would be amazing. Next week, we're returning to the subject of coaching. And in particular, what happens when an organisation trains up its own people to act as coaches, and effectively, employees start to coach each other. It's a really interesting model and lots to dive into. So, if you haven't subscribed to the show, make sure that you do, and I can't wait to see you in next week's episode. Cheers. Bye.

Thank you for listening!

If you have any questions or comments, please fill out the form on the Contact page.

I would be so grateful if you’d: