Nov. 15, 2021

Rethinking Performance Management for Anywhere Work

Rethinking Performance Management for Anywhere Work

This week, Ryan chats with Rory Walter, CEO of Appraisd, a simple and intuitive online performance management system.


  • Growing a company out of garden shed
  • How companies pivoted to providing feedback remotely
  • The impact of physical surroundings on productivity
  • Why continuous feedback is important
  • Overcoming recency bias and other performance management pitfalls

Meet Our Guest
Roly is the founder of Appraisd, an employee performance management system that is unique in aiming to help managers get the best from their team members. He has built Appraisd from his garden shed to a global business with £1mm ARR. He has so far avoided external investment, worried that it would get in the way of his family life but also wanted to prove that you could build and scale a SaaS business through customer revenue. He is fascinated by what it means to be a manager – why middle management has become a dirty word, why management is seen as inferior to leadership, how managers also need to be coaches, mentors as well as holding their team members to account. Roly says it’s hard to be a manager, and this is what drives him to build tools to help. Oh, he also loves to regularly embarrass his two kids by playing guitar for their school’s Dads Band.

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Ryan Purvis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works Podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In the series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines. The problems they're facing, how they solve them. The areas they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, that'll help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings.

So really welcome onto the digital workspace works podcast. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Roly Walter 0:34
Thank you. Yes. So my name is Rowley. Walter, I'm the founder of appraised. I started appraised in about 2012. In my garden shed I was getting back into into coding, but also I'm, I'm in really interested in how technology can help people at work and be more productive and get the best out of people. And I thought, well, I'm going to have another crack at this, I'm going to, I'm going to see if I can create something. I've done a lot of kind of performance reviews at my old company at Goldman Sachs. And I'd seen what they were doing what they were trying to achieve, use a lots of different technology. And I thought, actually, there's an opportunity here for something better, something that can really be genuinely employee and manager focused, and kind of really helped that relationship. That's kind of what I'm really interested in. And so I thought, well, I'm going to have a go at doing this. And so yeah, set up appraised in the garden shed, and we've kind of grown organically from there.

Ryan Purvis 1:34
The garden shed leads me into my favorite next question is what does the digital workspace mean to you? Well, yeah,

Unknown Speaker 1:42
that's a really good kind of intro because I love to work in my garden shed. And when I was setting the company up, I thought, You know what, look, I've got a chance here to set things up from scratch, to kind of rethink the way things work. I think there was that book rework came out at the time. I think, that was written by the Basecamp. Guys, wasn't it? It was, yep. Yeah. And I thought this, this is really exciting, you know, and I really thought, we can have a really interesting, potentially globally distributed, loosely connected, bunch of people are working to create something. And, you know, let's, let's start with that. The irony is that we didn't end up with that, we ended up with some loosely connected people. And by loosely connected, I mean, the people who are sort of who kind of really identify kind of intrinsic value in working for the organization, and you know, what we're trying to achieve, rather than just, let's say, wanting to get a job to pay the bills. So that's what I was. Yeah. And so the connection was maybe not loose, but instead, just very lean. And then kind of focused just on like, delivering some kind of purpose, a sense of purpose. So yeah, that's how we started out. And then I got one extra person can join me in my shed, and then you realize, well, actually, we kind of need to grow. But I was a bit reluctant, because I really liked my shed. And anyway, we ended up getting a small office, and then we shared it with another company. And then they sort of Saudi started to shrink, and we started to grow in that place. And, and then we ended up getting a really nice office that we all we all really love, actually. But obviously, as I'm sure many of your other guests have said, you know, all of that was kind of turned on its head by the pandemic. And now we're pretty much fully remote. And a lot of people who say, Oh, we want to come back in maybe two or three days a week, because we really miss it. And now they can vary and maybe one day a week. Actually, yeah, it hasn't materialized this great kind of influx of people.

Ryan Purvis 4:02
We're about to buy. Sorry, that's pretty good. So I will try to visualize your shed and where it's located. So we're

Unknown Speaker 4:07
in North London, Kentish town. Now we're in this kind of old piano warehouse, kind of factory. It used to be and it's fantastic. Loads of character. Got no heating, no aircon. So maybe that's why people haven't been rushing

Ryan Purvis 4:24
back. Yeah. Now can you imagine? I can imagine. And you and your garden shed? I mean, it I'm going to work 10 foot by five foot I think or something like in my garden. I mean, we obviously a little bit bigger than then I'm assuming

Unknown Speaker 4:36
was a bit bigger than that. Not much bigger, though. I think. Yeah. What's that in meters? I think it was four by three meters maybe?

Ryan Purvis 4:45
Yeah, it's probably about Yeah, probably a bit smaller than that. Yeah. Usually when I talk to someone from the UK, they're like, like everything in feet. over my head from meters to feet. It's eight by six. I know. completely confused now. cuz that's funny you mentioned that because I am during during the lockdown last year, I've got a room that's been allocated for my study. But I was contemplating converting the shed into a study. And I was wondering if you could actually work it off. But you know, the windows will be pretty cold. We'll avoid it for that. But yeah, yeah. So, so tell us about appraise. I mean, you said, this is your second second shorter. That was the occasion.

Unknown Speaker 5:30
Yeah, there was actually wait. So prior to 2012, I set up a business with a friend. And we were interested in the same thing. It's all about how employees and managers can get the best from each other. And we did a lot around performance management training, actually, we did a lot of training for all diplomats and ambassadors, all around the world, for example, for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as it was known. And, and being a technologist, I was always thinking, There's got to be a tool that can can help. So when we've done our training, to leave something in place with our clients, that we're going to continue the work we've done in the in the classrooms. And that's, that's, you know, what we attempted, but that was in the, you know, 2006 2007. And the idea of software as a service was not hugely popular at the time, you know, there were there were huge kind of concerns around security and data, jurisdiction and things like that. And so it was hard. But actually, in 212, the timing was right, people were also having this kind of consumerization of enterprise apps. PDM was been using Facebook and Gmail for a while. And they were thinking, Well, why can I have this experience at work, as well? Yeah. And so it was a great time and a great opportunity to start a new SAS business.

Ryan Purvis 6:53
Okay. And that's when you started now, did you start in a sort of Field of Dreams, build an outcome? Think, did you have a customer that was helping you pay for the build,

Unknown Speaker 7:03
I didn't have a customer. But I well, actually, what I did have was some great beta test. Vita test customers. Yeah. And who were kind of people I'd worked with in the past. They weren't necessarily giving me any guidance or anything like that. But they did say that they would try it out. So that was good. And I knew that that was hugely valuable. But otherwise, I just did the kind of classic Eric Ries lean startup thing, I built a very much an MVP. I put up a terrible website. And it was literally one page with four images, one of which was photoshopped and didn't even exist in the product. And got some signups. And then I said, Great, look, you know, full disclosure, this is a work in progress. This is an MVP. But do you want to test dare you want to have a go for free. And I got some good traction. And actually, you know, it took something like only three months to finish off some of the kind of bits that were missing the really, really crucially missing. And, you know, I was able to then start billing those customers and get new ones and use them as referrals for other people and so on. And so, yeah, it was actually quite a good, good experience.

Ryan Purvis 8:14
And just give me a feel we you we coding the application yourself, are you send out to India or somebody like that, to do the build, though,

Unknown Speaker 8:22
I was doing it myself. And it was something that I'd stepped away from in the previous 10 years. But, you know, at university, I taught myself to code a long time ago, and, and I love coding. And it's kind of addictive. And, you know, I just couldn't help myself. And actually, it took a long time for me to let go. And I've now got brilliant tech team, who do all the development work. And you know, they've almost but not quite locked me out completely. And so,

Ryan Purvis 8:51
yeah, I know about it as an artist, he got addicted, because that's one reason why I try and avoid it. Because if I know if I start and then other things will not happen.

Unknown Speaker 9:00
So Exactly. Right. Exactly. Yeah.

Ryan Purvis 9:04
So tell me about how praise works. And how has it worked in this new world? Well, yeah, this is not new. But, you know, how does it How does it How does it fold out?

Unknown Speaker 9:15
Okay, well, okay, for those listeners who don't know much about praise, it's, it's an online performance management system. So it does, it really manages that, yeah, that relationship between employee and manager. So it's about having check ins with each other, doing maybe the occasional bigger review around some competencies or skills, perhaps or your career. It helps you set sets and define objectives or OKRs that you should be working towards and review those periodically. It helps people give and receive feedback helps you set a personal development plan. Okay, so HR people, this will be pretty standard stuff. And obviously for HR, it's great. They can log in and get all the insights and data out of this. Now what happened during the pandemic was was really, really interesting. Obviously everyone moving to working from home. And we've got millions of people who are managers, trying to think about how they, how they can get the best out of their team members via zoom, basically without seeing them in person about being around them without being able to call them into their office or have a meeting or anything like that. And so, you know, we did some interesting. So immediately, we just thought, well, let's, we had some good ideas. Let's just get these out there and see what happens. So first, the first thing was we created this working from home check in which was placed the emphasis on two different things. One is your productivity like are you actually able to get the stuff that you need to done is things like communication breaking down because and slowing you down at work. So that was focused on that, and also on your wellbeing? And what's your mental state, and we had things like checkboxes where you can say how you're feeling. And it was a very kind of low risk way of talking about how your well being to your manager with whom you might not have done previously. So you could take several boxes. And this is what we found people would take things like, I'm fine, bit anxious, and stuff like that, which basically means a kind of fine most of the time, but occasionally, you know, a bit a bit anxious, and so on, which is totally normal and human to be expected. And it was a really nice way of getting those sorts of conversations going with our client organisations that perhaps have never really happened before. So it was a really nice way of introducing topic of wellbeing to organizations. And then the other thing we did, we just did some nice little helper things, which was, you can you can do a video call through appraised, for example. So if you're having a check in with your manager, and just click a button, then you can pop up in a video call, you know, within the window, and obviously everyone has zoom and slack and stuff like that. But what we have found with check ins, or any kind of online meeting is that there's any friction involved, it can set things back by five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or the meeting is cancelled if someone can't find the details and hold on. So we just tried to remove the friction from the process of having this one to one meeting with your manager. And so that was interesting. So we put those out there, we just saw how clients took them up. And some of them said that, you know, we had some plan, saying this is a lifesaver. This is genuinely brilliant. So that was fantastic. So for some organizations, it was really, really helpful. And we got fantastic feedback that was really useful to us so that we could continue to kind of develop the product. But then we found this other thing happening. And I found this myself, which I think is really interesting about the digital workspace, which is that people were really enjoying the one to ones they had with their manager when they were at home. And they were doing it over zoom. So because a lot of people like to think, Oh, we got to get away from zoom and teams, because, you know, there's just something missing about that kind of face to face in person being you know, you can see that people's body language, give them a much better sense of how they're feeling and stuff like that. But we found that there were a significant number of people who preferred doing their check ins remotely. And the reasons they gave with things like, Well, I'm at home, I'm in a place of absolute comfort and safety. I'm not, you know, this is my territory, my managers in their territory, it's absolutely fine. I am on my own, there's nobody else around me, looking at what's going on. There's nobody going into a glass paneled office and people kind of wondering why they're going to have a half hour chat with their manager, you know, and you see people walking in an open plan office. I mean, in our office, we don't even have a meeting room. So it's very hard to do one to ones I would take people out to the cafe and things like that. But now that we can do it through zoom, I'm not saying that we should replace them, you know, people should do what they want. But for a lot of people, it's worked very, very well. And that's been fascinating to you.

Ryan Purvis 14:09
But I can hear what you're saying because it you know, like I ran out of coffee now before I call that took me one minute now I've had to run to get into the machine that everyone else cheering and there's five people ahead of me now. I really wanted a cup of coffee before this meeting. It all compounds and it sounds like silly little small things. But it's the small things that actually make the big things in the end sometimes. So I can totally understand that. And I find that the sort of Converse for me and you're talking about staff, get a warning in office and then only coming one day a week versus three days a week, etc. I don't have an office now where I am, but I do go and see people in their offices every so often just so I get that feeling of an office. And it's even just a kind of a meeting. You know, even though I might be doing the meeting on the phone in an office environment. It's like an adventure, which gets me really amped to go sit there and talk That's been the whole day. That's because now I'm in a different place. They've got whiteboards, and I can think and stuff. Whilst do some calls. It's yeah, I think I think it creates almost the right kind of context for doing things.

Unknown Speaker 15:14
Absolutely. So many things I think are about getting into the right frame of mind. And your surroundings are a big part of that. It's difficult to, you know, you really associate ways of thinking, I think, with rooms and buildings and smells, sights, sounds and everything. And, you know, they trigger sort of certain mindset. So, there's, there's a lot to be said for that. Absolutely. Yeah.

Ryan Purvis 15:44
Yeah, no, I think I mean, you mentioned that I was actually talking about my father in law this morning, Dr. Carr for the sharpen, it was coming back, he was picking me up. And he went to pick up his newspaper, and we drove past a local coffee shop. And you say, Gee, that culture was busy. And I said, Yeah, because people go and sit in the coffee shop, and they work for the morning. And he's always worked from home, like, like I said, why would they do this, because, you know, you can sit in this busy environment and get the noise, someone will bring you coffee, you can do a little bit of work on the Wi Fi, because now that you know Wi Fi has all over the place, they'll get some stuff out, they'll feel like they've started the day quite positively. And then they go go home and do the rest of stuff or to go to the office and care. And he said, he never even thought of it. Like he never crossed his mind that you could go and do that. See what Yes, the technology is there, you just got to know how to use it, it came fairly struggles in that space. But you could see almost the sort of thought dawning on me that you could actually go to mugging me, which is the coffee shop, have a cup of coffee, do some work? And do some other go somewhere else do the next thing. Go the whole remote working actually becoming mobile working?

Unknown Speaker 16:49
Yes, absolutely. And is it? Yeah, is it conceivable that you might have, you know, going back to the office that you might have a few days in an office where you see your colleagues, but you maybe do a few meetings that are genuinely better together in person. But then you have a every Friday, let's say you're at home. And that's your kind of management day when you're maybe when you talk to your your team members, and you have those slightly deeper conversations with them. That difficult to have in the kind of buzzy environment of an office where actually, if they're at home, you're at home, and you're talking over the web, actually, that makes quite a nice, comfortable environment, for people to be able to open up and talk about their concerns or their aspirations or what they would really like to achieve, and so on.

Ryan Purvis 17:46
I mean, each their own, I guess, what I like about sort of some of the positioning with your product is you're looking for continuous feedback. Because often, what I found, and I'm not sure this is common for everyone, but but I find sometimes some people feel more comfortable only tell me what they what they think or what they feel in a scheduled slot. So if you tell if you're gonna say I want to wind this every week, at three o'clock on a Wednesday, they'll wait the whole week, even if it happened on the Thursday, the week before they wait till next Wednesday to tell you about the issue. And you're like, why just tell me when happened? Or that day? So I like the idea of providing systems that that are as much as their synchronous, that can be asynchronous as well.

Unknown Speaker 18:29
Absolutely. And I think it's a really, really interesting point. And I, yeah, have a sort of small story around that. So we had one client where they had, they were using a praise to do continuous performance management. So they were doing check ins, you can do a check in whenever you liked. They also had it set up. So they had a big competency framework. That was right for their industry, it was it was a really good one. There are various kind of specific technical skills that they wanted people to be aware of and develop. And they had quite an idle a great flexible system. So you can have a check in with your manager whenever you liked. And if you wanted to have a career discussion with your manager, you could. And at that point, the manager would call up on the system, the competency framework and say, Okay, you want to have a career discussion. This is how we this is these are the skills you need at different levels. Let's take a look. Let's and I can give you my kind of fairly objective assessment on all of these things. But the important thing is that the employee had kind of invited the manager to make an assessment of them. So it wasn't this is what we're doing every year for everyone 1000 People at December, you know, once a year and it's a real pain, this is the employee say I would like you to to gauge my skills on this framework and so that I can understand what I need to improve and that went down very, very well. Anyway, we then there was a big change of, of staff and and an interim HR director came in and said, this is, you know, this is ridiculous, we don't need a system to have check ins, you know why I can just go and ask my boss for a check, and then we'll just go and we'll have one. And we then looked at this, the I was like, hang on a second, okay. And we had a look at the data from the system, which show that actually, people were using this a lot throughout the firm. And it sort of came out through a few workshops that there was this feeling by employees that they felt it such a simple thing, okay, but an appraiser has a button that says shedule, a check in with my manager, or start checking with my manager. And just the fact that there was a button there that employees could click that said that to do this meant they built authorized to do it. And this was in a firm where previously the culture had been, you don't do this, you wait until your manager invites you to have a check in. And this was kind of eye opening for this HRD. And we, you know, we found it very, very interesting. And it was very revealing that actually, just being able to give employees authorization to request a check in meant a huge amount of difference. And it really made a difference to the managers as well, because they knew there was a point to doing them as well, that they were valued. Whereas, you know, as a managers quite often you think, do I really need to have a check in with this person, they're doing fine. I just want them to carry on. And what you can forget as a manager is that much of the value is for the employee, they benefit from this. And they like having they like having the reassurance they like getting the feedback, and it's easy to forget that as a manager. And so, yeah, it's just an interesting thing about how user experience of something or the user interface can modify behavior.

Ryan Purvis 21:59
Yeah, I was gonna say that it was, to me that button was a prompt. And if that button isn't there, you know, we all get busy, and it's so easy to not have those things. And I've been criticized for my career. But you know, whenever we discuss something, I always say, Well, look at it now. Okay, let's book the meeting. That's the thing. But we won't forget, I'm like, Yeah, but the point is not that you won't forget, the point is that there'll be something else, they'll they'll become, you know, top of mind when they ever do that thing, because they'll always be something else, and then all kind of keeps pushing further and further down the list. Until one day someone says, Why don't we never do that? And we'll go, well, we never looked at it. And we never, you know, put, we never put the systems in place that helped us. Yeah, you know, execute on. So I totally buy into that. And I'm interested day to day with reverse course on that, bring it all back.

Unknown Speaker 22:52
So the interim, said, okay, great, there's great data from the system to show that it was well adopted, plus this kind of interesting feedback that we discovered around the cultural stuff. It was very interesting, because she was she was very, very interested in culture, and she felt like systems are kind of anti culture. It's a distraction. Yeah, you know, and it shouldn't be you should, we should think about culture without systems. And, you know, it was it was almost a sort of a mantra. Whereas actually, I think we're able to show that they can go hand in hand. And, and so yeah, she left that saying, yeah, that's, that's carry on. And then the new, more kind of permanent team have really taken it and run with it.

Ryan Purvis 23:41
It's actually a bizarre way of thinking about it. Because if you if you think about something that's non work related, you think about being a fan of a sports team. The reason why you're a fan of a sports team, fundamentally, is that it's regular. It's something to look forward to every weekend, or however long they're playing. And that's what creates the culture of it. And then you got, because it's happening regularly, you've got things you can talk to, or talk about with other people, which creates a bond, which creates a culture and you know, depending on, on who you're talking to becomes a positive thing or a negative thing. But, but the point is, you're getting, you need that you need that rigor in order to get it to happen. That's the formula.

Unknown Speaker 24:24
Yeah, you know, and, again, when it comes to technology, you know, think about our culture, we now have a culture in which it is acceptable to be 10 or 15, or 30 minutes late for meeting a friend. And that's because we have mobile phones where you can just text them and say, I'm really sorry about I'm running late, or whatever. And they'll say, Fine, I'll just do this. We have a culture where you know, you, you don't need to really think about how you're going to get home at the end of the night because you know, you can use an app to call a taxi. So So technology really does change behavior. And, you know, that's, that's why I think it's so interesting at work in the workplace, you know, I love fascinating how consumer technology ideas, then kind of infiltrate the enterprise. And, you know, because it always seems like the consumer stuff tends to lead the way. And then, you know, people find a way to put it to the use of work.

Ryan Purvis 25:32
Well, it didn't used to, I mean, if you, if you compare it to say, little cars, like Formula One used to used to lead innovation in, in cars, you know, that the braking systems, the engines of fuel efficiency, all that kind of stuff. And it's kind of the same thing, I think, I think the innovation now in the market, and you look at a Tesla, or any of those electric electric vehicles, you know, they're driving innovation much faster than in Formula One is. And I think it's probably because there's, there's more funds and more innovative, more incentives to do that. But, you know, for a long time in the corporates, you know, if you wanted to get a laptop, or work laptop, or see that big status symbol, but you know, 20 years ago, because to go buy a laptop was so expensive, the only way you get one is if a corporate was paying for it, you know, nowadays, you can walk into any shop almost by any thing, you know, for 100 bucks, may not be the best thing. But you just need to use Excel and Word or notepad, check email, it'll work, you know.

Unknown Speaker 26:37
Yeah, as an as an employer, you, you now have to offer, you have to offer things that are consumer grade. And that's seen as you have to offer a fantastic MacBook Pro, and a great screen and incredible desk, incredible coffee, Mr. and so on. So it's, you know, it's, it's tough now, I think we kind of come to consumer side of life is in the driving seat a little bit.

Ryan Purvis 27:08
I actually did work with an organization and I was in a meeting with the with some of the C people. And I remember one of them saying that if we don't offer, the grads coming in here, you know, as soon as you say consumer level technology, an apple, an Apple device, or something like that, they're going to go to the other guys, the competitors. And it doesn't even matter that there's no branded app, for the company on that on that device, it doesn't even matter. They just want the device, because that shows that they are connected, and they're there with it. Now fast forward wouldn't be five years, six years, you know, they've they've taken home mobile first strategy, and all their work is done through devices, you know, iPads, or some of the most rugged devices, I think, these iPads with rugged gear. But the point is, that actually changed the whole business because they realized that they needed and I think there's a level of the cheaper or cheaper resources, the cheaper is the younger resource. But there's, you know, they're going to do inspections, and all that kind of stuff, which is typically what you'd be doing, as the new guy on the block, really are the youngest. But it actually fundamentally changed the business and made them more profitable in

Unknown Speaker 28:20
some sense. Yeah, yeah. I think it's, yeah, it's it's really interesting. I mean, just going back to digital workspace, then, one of the things, we have a client who manages security guards, cleaning professionals, and other kinds of facilities, people all over the UK. And if you go to common garden market in London, and you see someone working there, you will know that they have a three monthly or quarterly check in with their manager on our system. And AI, they are so progressive compared to some organizations I've come across who really should have there are no obstacles to having regular reviews with with their manager, but they still just do it once a year. There are a big law firms, insurance companies, accountancy firms, who are not as progressive as this facilities management organization. And they've totally embraced it. And yeah, the managers go around with iPads. And, you know, and really make use of that kind of consumer technology to make it really, really easy because as you can imagine the the friction or potential obstacles there are too hard for getting those people in a room and having a sitting down and having a formal review or something like that are considerable. And yeah, just being able to use this technology on the street in the market, wherever it just has been transformative.

Ryan Purvis 29:52
Yeah, I can only imagine. I mean, I had a very good manager many years ago who he used to say, because you should be you should almost be Talking dating. And it's not so much having a, you know, a book session every day to talk about it. But, but as a manager, you should be talking to your team all the time. So you always have a feel for where they are. And then when you do have the sort of quarterly monthly, whatever it is, it's it's a lot less daunting from both sides. Because often what happens is the manager feels like they've got to be like really prepared for this meeting, the employee feels like they wasn't really prepared for this meeting. So they're both stressed about it. Meanwhile, if you do process a little updates, then all you're really doing is going through the updates for the last 90 days, six days, whatever it is, and talking about the positive stuff, or the next steps, because you really don't have to you have to rehash things you thought you said a month ago or whatever it was?

Unknown Speaker 30:51
Absolutely, there's a lot of the the problems with the kind of out of the old annual appraisal is this thing of recency bias, which is, you know, your bias the conversation and your outcomes based on what you can remember, which is, clearly, you know, what, what's happened most recently. And so that is a problem. And hence the kind of the rise of the this continuous performance management, which is, which is great. Having said that, one thing I found fascinating is that there are all many organizations, well known organizations that have moved continuous performance management, but the an annual, something an annual review has crept back in. And it's, I find this fascinating because people have been writing about the death of the annual appraisal for decades. And but it just won't seem to go away. And it turns out that the best thing certainly in my view, is that we have these, this continuous performance management and regular feedback and recognition and praise and check ins and discussion. But actually, it is quite helpful once a year to look back and reflect over all of those, hold the data together and say, okay, look, this is interesting, had a bit of a blip midway through the year, and we can use the system to tell us this. And here you you know, you were really hoping for this, did it happen? Yes, it did. That's fantastic. You know, well done and put, you know, let's, let's reflect on the fact that you've actually achieved more than you thought you were, if you have you know, and so on actually a 12 month thing is quite good. A good time to reflect and then think about what could what might happen over the next 12 months. And it certainly that's what I do around New Year, you know, you come to the end of the year, that time between Christmas and New Year's is a bit everything's a bit slow, and you can be a bit more reflective. And you're thinking about what am I doing in life? Am I doing the right things? What would I like to do differently next year? It's a very natural process. So I think what works really well is a combination of those two things.

Ryan Purvis 32:58
I mean, I think and I think your word use reflection probably makes more sense than anything else. And your point around recent would you say recent

Unknown Speaker 33:10
experiences, recent bias, recency bias.

Ryan Purvis 33:13
I mean, one of the arguments that I've heard for people saying that you need to be in the office, and I have seen this happen when it comes to promotions and, and, and appraising people and that sort of thing. And the line manager or the management chain, that's only in the country for for one week, a quarter. You know, they've only seen five people when they've been there. And those are the five people that are remember, because the other people work from home. And then, you know, I've been in discussions with with Pepsi. Well, you know, that guy's never in the office, I don't think they're actually doing their jobs. And you're like, That guy's like our highest performer? Yeah, it just, it just doesn't, you know, for the 15 hours a week, he says and commuting. He does, you know, 30 hours with the work. So we don't have any, you know, any any is connected, you know, you know, and he or she is using the tools, whatever it was. And I think that's also a factor that that needs to mature. And maybe, like you said, a combination of the annual review and continuous thing will help do that, because they are it's almost moving away from the subjective management to to more objective and, you know, empirical measurement to an extent.

Unknown Speaker 34:23
Absolutely. So, if this if this, this period in our history has made it more obvious that there is bias in the workplace around who is there and who isn't and, and thrown, you know, into stark kind of reality, put the spotlight on some of these issues that have been kicking around for decades around I mean, whether it's, you know, someone who's present or not present or perhaps it's about someone who you people who get on with other people, you know, perhaps they tend to get ahead more you easily and, you know, if this whole kind of the last couple of years has thrown a spotlight on some of these biases, and forced us to come up with more objective ways of understanding people's contribution, that can only be a good thing.

Ryan Purvis 35:19
No, totally, totally get that. So, I mean, when you go into business to help them with the stuff, how would you do it? What's the approach? What's, what's a common

Unknown Speaker 35:29
scenario? So the first thing is, we, you know, we asked them, why they, why they got in touch. And it could be a number of reasons, it could be something like, well, we've got that we did our staff survey. And we found out that actually this kind of low engagement, and we think we've got these problems, it could be that we've got Junior, we've got people leaving at mid level, because they feel like they can't progress any more. Because I don't know that there are kind of jobs at the top that there are people at the top who are blocking their way, we've had people saying there's, there's sort of, we've even heard people saying they're dead wood floating around, you know, like, our organization doesn't manage poor performance. And so people kick around for a long time. And that's blocking more aspirational and ambitious people from getting ahead. So it could be something like that. Or it could be that they've identified a cultural shift that they want to make, that will they think will help them compete better and compete for talent better. Or it could be simply that the HR team, it just totally snowed under the year end, doing kind of crazy, crazy amounts of work with Excel documents and PDF forms coming back from managers with assessments and competencies and ratings and all this kind of stuff. And it's an absolute nightmare. Everyone hates it. And it's just not working for anyone. And but no one's really, so perhaps question why they're doing it that way. So we will take a big step back and say, Okay, what is it that you want to achieve? Is it is it genuinely that you really want to rate everybody? Or actually is would it be better if you just knew, and we're confident that every manager is doing a good job, looking after each person and that they've got a good relationship between each of those, those people, because that's what we can, we can help it. And so when we, when we work with an organization, we typically imagine a three to six year kind of plan, they will say, okay, in within a few months, we can solve the admin problem that will just be gone. So we got a huge amount of time back. So that's fine. But what else? And it'll be things like, Okay, well, within three years, actually, we want to grow to this size, and we want to get these sorts of results from our employees satisfaction survey, or engagement survey. And then we'll work towards getting those and we'll set KPIs for each year. And then you know, someone from our team will help that client, kind of implement the system adjusted, add things on and kind of progressively enhance the whole performance management process, starting with something small and bite size that people can adapt to very quickly and then grow from there, adding in things like OKRs, and recognition and praise and feedback and different types of check ins and career development, all that kind of stuff and kind of gradually build it up. And yeah, you know, work with them to kind of achieve those sort of goals over three years or more.

Ryan Purvis 38:37
So So do you bring with you not only a software as a service product, but you obviously bring some level of expertise consultants, with you, as part of the deal? And then are they changing anything specific that helps us process? Or was it just years of experience. And

Unknown Speaker 38:53
so now, we have a mixture. So we occasionally work with specialists, consultants who will bring in and they know our system really well and its capabilities, but their focus is on culture and engagement, and performance management. So they will be you know, CIPD, certified or whatever else in Region. Plus, we have our customer success team. Who are they do they do a little bit of support, technical support, but not really very much? Because that's a very small aspect of what they do is this, helping them to kind of articulate what their KPIs should be? So if they say, Well, we really want to get this kind of culture we've had, we've got this problem, how do we fix it and so on. They're very good at translating those two metrics that we can measure, and creating forms and templates and questions that will help them measure that data. And, of course, we've got a community of clients where we can we learn from what's been successful at other organizations, and can implement it with New organizations and you know, will sometimes have events where a client will stand up and talk about their their performance management journey that their organization has been on. And what worked well, what didn't work so well. So a lot of it is about the sharing knowledge, as well as taking the latest kind of best, you know, new thoughts coming out of Harvard Business Review or wherever.

Ryan Purvis 40:25
It sounds good. Is there any way that you'd want people to get hold of you and get in contact to have a consultation? At the product?

Unknown Speaker 40:32
Level? Yeah, I love that. You know, I say, I'm quite active on LinkedIn. So if anyone likes to connect with me on LinkedIn, just look me up. Really, Walter? And I love getting kind of tricky questions, or kind of being kind of provocative, anything like that. I'd love to engage there. But otherwise, yeah, of course, we have our website, where people can go and have a look. And we write blogs and so on. And I yeah, I always try to try to kind of make sure we have a, an interesting voice. It's not just this kind of same old thing. We always want to try and put things out there. And maybe it's some of them a little bit provocative or unusual, you know. But, you know, I think, hopefully that goes down. Well,

Ryan Purvis 41:15
super. Great. Well, thanks very much for coming on the podcast and it's been great chatting with you.

Unknown Speaker 41:19
Absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Purvis 41:25
Thank you for listening today's episode, and the big news producer editor. Thank you, Heather for your hard work on this episode. He subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW W podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website www dot digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to a newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends and colleagues.

Transcribed by

Roly WalterProfile Photo

Roly Walter

CEO & Founder of Appraisd

Roly is the founder of Appraisd, an employee performance management system that is unique in aiming to help managers get the best from their team members.
He has built Appraisd from his garden shed to a global business with £1mm ARR. He has so far avoided external investment, worried that it would get in the way of his family life but also wanted to prove that you could build and scale a SaaS business through customer revenue.

He is fascinated by what it means to be a manager – why middle management has become a dirty word, why management is seen as inferior to leadership, how managers also need to be coaches, mentors as well as holding their team members to account.

Roly says it’s hard to be a manager, and this is what drives him to build tools to help.

Oh, he also loves to regularly embarrass his two kids by playing guitar for their school’s Dads Band.