Transforming The Annual Appraisal Chore

Michaelis Boyd is a design-led architectural practice employing around 55 staff in West London.  Richard Walden, one of People Puzzles part-time HR Directors, started working with Michaelis Boyd using our People Puzzles Discovery exercise to understand the businesses’ strategic plans and what was holding back growth. It was evident that the existing ‘traditional’ annual appraisal process was considered ineffective both by staff and senior management.  The current process seemed unconnected to the firm’s project-based activities and was either not completed, or was completed inconsistently across the firm.

The Solution

After discussion with Partners, Team Leaders and individuals, Richard recommended that performance reviews should be based around the start and completion of projects – thus fitting in with the natural business cycle of the practice.  He also developed a competency/KPI framework to provide the benchmark levels of performance required at different levels of experience and qualification – tying into the reality of career development within professional practice.

Guided by Richard, the firms’ Associate Directors created a straight-forward, tailored competency framework covering four levels from new graduates to experienced senior architects.  The new project-based performance review process ensured that reviews were not only timely and relevant but also that performance information was being collated in real time rather than on an annual or bi-annual basis.  At the end of each year, a formal appraisal review summarises the project-based reviews and looks ahead to what skills and competencies will be required in the coming year, and guides other career development discussions. The competency/KPI framework is used to look across all the staff in the firm and review them in a consistent and objective way in respect of potential promotion and reward.

The new process has now been in place for a full year and has been proved to be a great success with much improved transparency, greater consistency across the firm and clearer relevance for all staff and team leaders.  Simon Haycock, a Partner at Michaelis Boyd, who lead the changes to the performance review process commented “our performance reviews had become an annual time consuming chore without much impact on the firm or individual performance.  Following the changes recommended by Richard, we now have a performance review process that is very relevant to what we do every day and contributes to our ability to provide high quality design-led solutions to our clients”


If you think your business could benefit from a People Director from People Puzzles – or you feel you need support with your appraisal process, we’d love to have a complimentary one to one chat with you about your people challenges. Call us on 020 3239 3307 for your complimentary call.

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