How We Used Management 3.0 To Make Us Love Appraisals

At McKenna Consultants, we are like the majority of people who dread the annual 1 to 1 appraisal. Rather than moaning about doing it like we do every year, we decided to explore what we could do instead using some Management 3.0 practices.

In the Develop Competence element of Management 3.0, the idea of having a 360 Degree Dinner is mentioned. This appealed to us for two reasons:

  1. No one here enjoys appraisals.
  2. Everyone here enjoys food!

So with those in mind, off we went to the local Italian to hold our inaugural 360 Degree Dinner. Now Management 3.0 does not offer much in the way of a magic recipe of how to do this, so we came up with our own method, inspired by Big 5 Performance Management and by Daily Stand Ups, a staple of Scrum teams like ours around the world. We like to think of it as Agile Appraisals!

We began by briefly re-iterating our company and internal core values that we identified in a recent retrospective. It is essential to reiterate these values, as these should guide our behaviours, performance and thinking.

We time boxed the appraisal to last two hours to review the performance of all six of us and gave everyone the opportunity to lead the review for a colleague. The questions are intended to be a group decision for the whole team, so that we all appraise each other. The questions that we answered together were:

What have been your biggest achievements since our last appraisal?

This was a really interesting discussion because some on the achievements that people suggested for each other were things they had never really thought about. It was great chance to heap praise on someone and make them feel great! At the end of it, the team couldn’t realise just how much that they had achieved!

What goals will you set until our next appraisal?

This was a particularly useful exercise as it is a less confrontational way to address team members weaknesses or areas for improvement. We also made sure that we came up with some really aspirational goals for one another too!

Do we need to re-visit any of the company or internal core values?

There is no point having values if they are ignored or no longer relevant. This was a quick way to add anything new, or take anything away.

How likely are you to recommend working at McKenna Consultants to one of your friends?

This is the million-dollar question. If the team wouldn’t be happy to recommend a friend to work at McKenna Consultants, them we would have some challenges to address. Fortunately, everyone was more than happy to recommend a friend if we needed!

How can we improve on this appraisal process?

To finish the 360 Degree Dinner, and in true agile fashion, we held a retrospective of the appraisal. We want to empower the team and energise the people, so it is only fair that an appraisal works for the person as much as it works for the Company! Some suggestions were:

  • Different restaurants for each time we run a 360 Degree Dinner
  • Bring along a flipchart and sticky notes
  • Time box each team member
  • Bring a talking stick

Needless to say, that the meeting went great and the team went away feeling positive, motivated and happy! So rather than having six one-hour long one to one appraisals a year, we decided to have quarterly team 360 Degree Dinners instead!

Now our team loves appraisals!


Nick McKenna
Since 2004, Nick McKenna, BSc, MBCS Biography has been the CEO of McKenna Consultants. McKenna Consultants is a bespoke software development based in North Yorkshire, specialising in Cloud development, mobile App development, progressive web App development, systems integration and the Internet of Things development. Nick also holds a First Class Degree in Computer Science (BSc) and wrote his first computer program at the age of nine, on a BBC Micro Model B computer. For the last 21 years, Nick has been a professional computer programmer and software architecture. Nick’s technical expertise includes; Net Core, C#, Microsoft Azure, Asp.Net, RESTful web services, eProcurement, Swift, iOS mobile development, Java, Android mobile development, C++, Internet Of Things and more. In addition, Nick is experienced in Agile coaching, training and consultancy, applying modern Agile management techniques to marketing and running McKenna Consultants, as well as the development of software for clients. Nick is a Certified Enterprise Coach (Scrum Alliance), SAFe Program Consultant (SAI), Certified LeSS Practitioner (LeSS) and Certified Scrum@Scale Practitioner. Outside the office, Nick is a professional scuba diver and he holds the rank of Black Belt 5th Dan in Karate.

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