Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > tools only work if you use them well, so let’s stop using annual appraisals

tools only work if you use them well, so let’s stop using annual appraisals

There is no doubt that tools are useful things to have for they can make our lives so much easier, but they have two major drawbacks:

Firstly you need to know how to use them and secondly you need to know how to maintain them.

Using tools is a bit like playing an instrument in that a lot of people may be able to get a tune out of one, but few get to professional standards. I have built a fair bit of furniture for my own use over the years, but I’m no Thomas Chippendale and certainly could not make a living from my woodworking tools. Using tools badly, or using the wrong tools is painful to watch, and can be very painful, even fatal, to the user.

Keeping your tools in good working order is also important as they will progressively cease to work if you don’t and a tool that doesn’t work is not worth having. Talk to a chef, a stone mason, a lumberjack or a carpenter about keeping a good cutting edge on their respective blades and you will encounter the same passion even if the tools in question are somewhat different. They all need a sharp edge and they need several of them; chefs will have a selection of knives like a carpenter or a mason will have a range of chisels because they each have a variety of uses.

Progress in developing tools is constant and has changed our lives. Old tools still work if they are kept up and I still have some of my father’s tools, but more modern versions are usually better. Why would anyone use an old mechanical typewriter when we have word processing available? You might do it because you like to, but there is little point in using an old typewriter in a modern business environment. Times change and we change with them.

At work we have tools too; our ‘phone, laptop, tablet and so on are obvious, but processes are tools too and like any tool you need to have the right process for the job and you need to maintain those processes so that they keep doing what you need them to.

It’s that time of year when the annual appraisal round is in full swing and, for me, these are tools that have long since run their course as having any positive impact. Few people can use them well and the vast majority use them very badly indeed, so why waste time and effort on continuing with them? Just think how much money you can save on paper alone by scrapping them, and then add in the management time, the people time, the impact on morale and being able to scrap at least one HR post; there are better tools for developing your people, so get with the times and stop this annual nonsense.

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