Following on from the approach being adopted by organisations such as Microsoft and Accenture, Al Tamimi has now moved away from traditional performance appraisals and introduced an innovative new approach known as “Open Talk” which is designed to encourage ongoing conversations between managers and their reports. At the heart of “Open Talk” is the inescapable logic that you cannot manage anyone effectively unless you have a relationship with them and relationships are based on continuous dialogue and real time feedback. Traditional performance appraisals have focussed more on annual summary reviews and goal setting meetings with quarterly catch ups but this approach has failed to increase levels of employee engagement globally which are currently at an all time low.

The increasing recognition that employee engagement and productivity are linked is leading to an overall re-think on many of the current processes underpinning performance management of which appraisal processes form a significant part. With “Open Talk”, Managers are simply required to respond to 5 basic questions on each person they manage every six months - the questions link primarily to development and the values of the firm which are an integral part of “Open Talk”. All employees in turn are asked to answer 5 questions anonymously every six months on the way they feel they are managed. This information forms what is known as a climate survey which enables the Managing Partner and the Executive Committee to have a greater understanding of how engaged employees really are within the firm.

Chris Lipscomb, HR Director for Al Tamimi, recognises that law firms are not always associated with leading edge people management strategies but hopes that Al Tamimi can be as innovative in its internal practices as it is with its client offerings.