HR Leaders - Evolve your continuous discussion framework in a way that is authentic and productive by Barry Flack

If you have followed the logic of my argument in this 3-part series of blogs to date (here and here) then by now we’ve hopefully reached a tipping point where:

1)   you’ve moved closer to joining the growing numbers of professionals consigning the old unproductive, annual appraisal ritual to the HR museum;

2)   embraced the fact that there is an emerging alternative that works off a more positive framework of individualised performance discussions that is people-first (not ratings-first) and;

3)   In Clear Review there is currently available on the market, a leading edge, digital platform designed to bring this reality to life as you scale accordingly. 

As I’ve worked for many years in large Financial Services institutions, I don’t underestimate the change agenda for those professionals. Wedded into the very DNA of those institutions that places the Reward professional at the top of the HR pops is an all year showpiece where ratings as output are king. There is no ducking the issue that this is a culture-change programme where, in my opinion, replacing that output comes when there is a realisation that the market directs equitable salary, that bonus awards shouldn’t fall below the team level (as this is where the magic truly happens) and that employee benefits should be broad and personalised beyond the obvious core.

In an environment where that change has taken place and where success is being reported, the framework for continuous discussions can bring many tangible benefits by utilising this new spare time to help underpin what’s important in today’s market – that complexity and speed of change require a constant two-way dialogue to be at the heart of its company culture.

 Here are just some of the positives it realises:

·     Dialling up the importance and regularity of a forward-looking, positive conversation aimed at unlocking the potential of every employee without the noise and negative distraction of the rating.

·     Creating the time and space to truly hear what matters most to our people in the pursuit of giving their very best in the job, a view of human nature we lost in our outdated organisations. (see McGregor theory x and y).

·     Supporting the basis that the role of the manager is not all-knowing these days, this is a chance to discuss ideas on an equal footing, drawing from those close to the periphery with the client or from the fast-paced nature of the external market. As more organisations move to being decentralised this will become even more important.

·     Spending time understanding how we can develop people to be more productive in their jobs, appreciating what limits them each day and how to support through proper learning interventions, instead of collating all the (possibly gamed) performance ratings to produce a half-baked, classroom event that ultimately is set up for failure.

·     As we rightfully dial up the importance of tackling the chronic problem of stress and mental health we can help develop solutions that prevent people becoming ill or identify those that need help as early as possible.

·     Finally, as we move towards truly understanding what employees want through their journey with the business, we collate and collect relevant people-centric input that helps make what matters most to them. Organisations that crack that business problem are best placed to retain their best people at a time of emerging skills shortages.

I am a firm believer that you change the system and that people, naturally inclined to want to do the right thing, will follow accordingly. Nudging people away from an outdated system focussed on impersonal, meaningless ratings and infrequent, stressful discussions to one that is free of this, seems to help unlock huge potential to evolve the culture of your organisation in an authentic and productive manner. Having a platform such as Clear Review to help facilitate this digitally at scale seems a logical next step in your evolution.

 Until next time. Communications beats process every day of the week. 


If you've missed them, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.


Barry Flack is a distinguished global expert in HR and recruitment currently working with a range of organisations and HR Tech vendors in adapting to the changing nature of work.
He brings a 25-year track record in a diverse range of organisations including a hyper growth start-up, high-tech, telecoms, utilities, financial services and most recently in a fashion retail organisation launching in the USA. Outspoken and compelling in his writing, he blogs at and various HR publications, speaks regularly at conferences and is referenced as a thought leader on Talent Acquisition and People matters. Recently appointed faculty lecturer on a prestigious global digital recruitment programme in Madrid.