It’s Time To Put Performance Reviews On Notice

by Lisa Bodell for [email protected]

More than 90% of employees would prefer their manager to address mistakes and learning opportunities in real-time, according to a study earlier this month from Wakefield Research. This isn’t news to companies like Deloitte, The Gap, and Adobe, which have replaced performance reviews with continuous feedback loops. These forward-thinking companies already understand that traditional performance evals are no longer practical for today’s data-driven HR departments.

HR systems for evaluating an employee’s contribution have become complex, often involving an algorithm for everything from “met revenue or budget goals” and “achieved client success” to “demonstrates kindness” and “collaborates well with others.” For managers, all these criteria represent multiple data points to plot, more questions to ask and answer, and tons of forms to complete and submit to HR.

Meanwhile, the average employee is bewildered about how to use the evaluation to improve job performance. Should she be more of a team player or assert herself more in meetings? Follow directions better or take more initiative? Many directives cut across one another, leaving the average employee frustrated and demoralized. If you’d prefer to develop and retain your employees, consider these five alternatives to the outdated performance-review process.

Check-ins. Instead of relegating feedback to a once-a-year exercise, managers at professional services company Accenture provide employees with feedback as needed throughout the year. At The Gap, Inc., Managers and employees are encouraged to have 12 informal, undocumented conversations about performance over the course of the year. By coaching people in real-time — instead of trying to recall mistakes or successes from months ago — these check-ins enable managers to identify and resolve performance issues in a timely manner.

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