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Appraising clever people: lessons from introducing performance reviews for academics in a UK University

Hedda Bird (3C Perform, Henley on Thames, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to build understanding of how to engage a highly educated workforce with the benefits of performance management through sharing the lessons learned from introducing performance reviews (appraisals) into an academic environment.


The paper presents a case study of a four-year programme in a UK higher education establishment. The author was closely involved in the last two years of the programme, and completed a detailed evaluation of the programme for the client.


Performance management creates significant value within a highly educated workforce through bringing together individual capability and expertise to focus on delivering the strategy. Obstacles to success such as routine complaints of “time-wasting” and “pointlessness” can be overcome by wide and deep engagement with employees throughout the design and development of the approach.

Research limitations/implications

This is a single case study; however, the author has worked on many similar programmes with highly educated work forces with very similar results.

Practical implications

The vast majority of staff positively want a high-quality performance review; the practical challenge is to channel this desire into shared ownership and responsibility for the success of performance review in practice.


Literature abounds with analysis of what is wrong with performance review, this paper is a rarer piece in that it develops our understanding of how to set up performance management and review for success.



Bird, H. (2015), "Appraising clever people: lessons from introducing performance reviews for academics in a UK University", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 47 No. 2, pp. 81-85.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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