Timpson urges firms to ditch staff appraisals

23 September 2010

23 September 2010 | Rebecca Ellinor

Scrap employee appraisals, lose the rules, don’t boss your staff about – and instead let them run the show.

That was the advice from John Timpson, chairman of the Timpson shoe repair chain, to delegates at the CIPS Conference 2010 in London today.

He said it had taken him 22 years to realise the secret to running a successful business – “upside down management”.

In his case, it means that as long as staff in the shops look smart and put the money they take from customers in the till, they are free to operate the business as they see fit.

They can barter with customers to agree a price, they can innovate and offer new services and so long as they have the right attitude, they will do well at the company, Timpson explained.

“We hire on personality,” he said. “I don’t care about their CV or their qualifications. I can train someone to repair shoes, I can’t put personality into a grumpy cobbler.”

Timpson said he incentivises staff to train and to perform well with customers by connecting their bonuses to how much they sell and how skilled they are.

He also ensures they are kept happy by giving everyone their birthday off, keeping holiday homes for staff to use, helping to fulfil ambitions with the firm’s Dreams Come True initiative, which provides access to a hardship fund to support staff in financial difficulties, and sending personal, handwritten thank you letters.

He said this same approach is applied to suppliers.

“I expect us to be totally honest with our suppliers and them to be totally honest with us,” he said. “If a delivery is going to be late I want to know about it. If we have a competitor coming up that’s going to cause them problems, we’ll tell them about it.

“We expect them to do what they said they would do and we’ll do the same. We make sure we pay them on time and don’t change the terms – a deal’s a deal.”

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