Appraising & Motivating

Getting the Best out of Your Team

I do not profess to be an expert when it comes to motivating a team of people but I have learned a thing or two from my first-hand experience of owning a business for 12 years (making many mistakes) as well as watching how clients, business partners and fellow recruitment agency owners (many who I class as friends) run their companies. I learn every single day - what to do and what not to do and I still don't always get it right because, like all human beings, I have 'off' days and feel anger and disappointment when things are not going well.

But one thing is for sure, I and many of the people I know who work for smaller businesses would never return to working for a big one again where motivating staff just seems to get lost in translation. Often middle managers are challenged with delivering results, with little or no support and training, and an annual appraisal scheme which does nothing to aid the process.

As firms get larger they have to put in a robust infrastructure and HR becomes a big department all of its own. That's when the godforsaken six-page annual appraisal rears its ugly head.

Invariably a box ticking, time-consuming, energy-sapping bureaucratic process that line managers do because they have to and employees attend begrudgingly. Working hard all year only to be graded unfairly by a manager who does not recognise or reward excellence. A manager who may have worked with them for 3 months out of the 12 so don't know them at all.

I was not unusual amongst my colleagues when I sought out my annual appraisal from the previous year only days before it was about to be reviewed. It was too late by that point to get up to speed with any training or development that had been promised and you might think this was because I didn't care. I did: I loved my job, and I was good at it, but I detested appraisal time. My manager buying me a bacon roll on a Monday morning or a pint of beer on a Friday lunchtime did more to motivate me than any appraisal process.

In a small firm a more casual monthly meeting, documented by a follow up email means that appraisal meetings are short, relevant, respected, useful and meaningful. It means issues can be tackled quickly before they become a problem and staff know where they stand. The communication too means team members are very much part of the business, contributing to its success with their ideas and suggestions. It's a chance to mull over the challenges and say a personal thank you for a job well done. They are altogether better motivated and valued.

Clare Wight, Managing Director