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Giving young people a say on staff performance

At St Christopher’s we always listen to young people’s views and give them opportunities to shape the organisation. This is part of our commitment to participation and making sure children are at the heart of everything we do. However, we think it’s also important to listen to staff’s views so everyone feels part of St Christopher’s.

One thing staff wanted to change was the appraisal process. They found it confusing and wanted the structure to focus on development and growth. Young people had no involvement in the existing process, so they didn’t have a voice to say how they felt about staff’s performance.

St Christopher’s listened to the feedback and thought about how it could change to be more fit for purpose, meaningful and a positive experience for both the appraiser and appraisee.

The HR team worked with young people to talk about what the current system was like. For the new appraisals young people wanted to make sure staff could respond to feedback from their manager and share areas where they wanted to develop.

Together they come up with a new rating scale and performance indicators that better reflected our values and aims as an organisation, as well as making sure staff were doing a good job.

Once they agreed on the new appraisal system, they thought about how to train everyone to use it. Young people decided to come to one of the quarterly managers meetings, where staff from across St Christopher’s get together to share best practice and hear updates from all the different services.

The young people came along and gave out random appraisal comments to people in the meeting – some were related to performance, some were completely irrelevant to work, whereas some just had a rating with no feedback at all. Recipients of the comments then explained how that felt for them, saying it’s important to know what is expected of you and that managers need to have clear evidence and examples to back up their comments.

Then they asked staff to test the new appraisals process with a partner. People commented on the new indicators, especially the one making sure that all staff’s work aimed to be child-centred. With the new process all members of staff must include feedback from young people in their appraisal, which will make sure their voices are definitely heard.

Young people then provided a sheet explaining what to do and what not to do in an appraisal to make sure staff felt they were in a safe space and could have an honest conversation.

Everyone commented on how the young people were so confident standing in front of an audience they did not know and had put so much thought into redesigning appraisals so that both staff and young people will have more of a voice in the future.

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