º Appraisals & feedback ~ benefiting from changes through Lean and Agile approaches

Appraisals & feedback

I ran once into my line manager, who was looking stressed and overloaded. When I asked, ‘What’s going on?’ the answer was ‘Appraisals phase! I still have 10 to go!’.

At the company I used to work for, one thing was a fact about the performance appraisals: everybody was happy when they were over. Specially in cases where not always in the office, or working for different projects, or even geographically distributed, it was quite a challenge for the line manager to come up with a fair performance appraisal.

It is already clear to most of the companies that yearly employee’s evaluation and goal setting is not the best approach to motivate creative workers. It is about high performing employees giving their best in order to achieve outstanding outcome for the company they are working for. Performance appraisals are not only useless towards the expected behaviour, they actually damage the intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, in a world when we seek leadership in our managers, the performance appraisals still support the top-down approach manager-employee, which we are challenging with the technology enterprises of the XXI century.

The question which arise now is, if we don’t apply performance appraisals, what do we do now?
Jürgen Appelo in his book ‘Managing for happiness’ introduces the concept of Feedback Wrap.

Feedback Wrap is based on the assumption that knowledge workers require regular, honest feedback to grow and improve, not once a year, but in regular intervals. Due to de fact that nowadays there are a lot of knowledge workers working remote, face-to-face communication is difficult to keep up. So Jurgen Appelo created a way to set up written feedback which can be sent per mail whenever required, if possible regularly.

Five are the steps to create a feedback wrap:

  • define the context you are writing from,

  • describe the facts (the facts and not your assumptions!),

  • express your feelings about the situation,

  • list what is important to you,

  • and end up offering some suggestions how to improve.


It was used both in the company itself, internally, and in customer areas where it is embarking on the transformation and there are frictions between partners.

Can go well:

We start with everyday situations in the company, which can cause some discomfort in the companions, from the improper use of the coffee maker in the box, the fridge, the microwave, to gradually provide feedback in contexts as a team with problems of execution, a department that has bottlenecks in its response of times.

Always exposing the context of the situation to avoid misunderstandings and of course, hot feedback, never days after the situation.

Can go bad:

It is essential to communicate the context, what has not worked well in my case is that part, there are times, that the feedback is communicated without communicating the context and causes misunderstandings. In other cases no alternatives or solutions are proposed, the feedback is not closed.

My opinion:

Yearly performance appraisals are not what knowledge workers need to grow and improve. Feedback Wraps are a welcome alternative for written, frequent feedback in the situations where face-to-face communication is not possible due to geographical distribution.

My conclusion:

This part has been practiced a lot to offer from the feelings shown, constructive solutions, even accompanying the dynamics with non-violent communication techniques, ¿how the person who received the feedback regarding that feedback has felt?