Performance appraisals & all hands meetings, unexpected link

Performance appraisals & all hands meetings, unexpected link

Performance reviews, appraisals or evaluations – there are many variants for the term.  But the perception all of them trigger is almost the same. Managers meeting their direct reports secretively. Pointing out team members’ achievements or failures or both. It isn’t a stretch if we said, team members are the listeners most of the time in such meetings.

But isn’t that supposed to be a thing of the past? Those traditional performance management techniques meant to just check the box? Caring little about the actual performance improvements in employees?

Well, if done correctly the opportunity to review performance isn’t only one – discussion behind closed doors. Weird as it may sound, all hands meetings are appropriate for reviewing the team & company performance. Of course, one can discuss an individual’s performance in an all hands meeting. But we have to be careful that only praises are public & not instances of ‘poor performance’.

All Hands?

All hands or Town hall are meetings in an organisation where the entire team comes together. Purpose is to review the company performance in the recent past & communicate plan for the upcoming few weeks/months. Leadership gets a chance to address any queries individual employees may have.

Frequency of such meetings varies depending on a number of factors. e.g. org size, stage, geography, number of offices, work culture & so on. The list goes on.

Typically agenda of an all hands meeting may look like the following –

  • Result of initiatives undertaken since the last all hands meeting
  • Organisational & unit level strategies to align for growth
  • OKR/Priority setting at the top
  • Recent achievements & failures
  • Discussion around changes in org structure, policies etc
  • QnA

The list is indicative & will vary from one org to the other.

Connection with Performance appraisals

When discussing recent achievements and/or failures, inevitably performance of company/team/individual will be appraised. Isn’t that the core purpose of a performance review process?

This may sound odd, but there is no better place than a gathering of the entire organisation to openly discuss achievements & failures. Learn more from them & ensure that the graph is always heading north. And eventually, company & team performance DOES have a bearing on an individual’s performance. If a team has had an exciting achievement, definitely the team members will be rewarded. If there was a failure, the related individuals will be asked for their opinions & appropriate course corrections will be made.

This is exactly a performance appraisal, but without the formal bells & whistles.

Making all hands meetings effective

Now that we know connection between the two, its imperative that ways to make all hands meetings effective are discussed. After all, its about making a positive shift in the company/team performance.

Here are a few points to make your all hands effective:

  • Don’t throw in a lot of data without making its significance clear
  • Don’t belittle or ignore team members for whatever reason
  • Do not interrupt or try to dodge a question. Even if you don’t have the answer right away, hear people out patiently.
  • Be candid about success, failures, imminent challenges & risks.
  • Do discuss top level goals (if doing OKRs, help departments & teams align with them)

Hope these are enough signs for you to consider performance management as a more holistic process. And not just a behind the door, formal discussion between team member & manager.

Here is a template to make your all hands meeting more effective. Let us know what you think in the comments below.