Although performance reviews are important for providing feedback, assessing strengths, identifying areas for improvement, and setting goals for the next year, they really don’t do much for engagement levels. The annual review seems to have been more based on a bonus or salary increase and in this economy, there isn’t any extra money to be handing out. So why not use this as a chance to revamp the dreaded annual performance review process and implement something much more simple and engaging for everyone.
We are just in the preliminary process of making this switch at my company so I am excited to see the positive effects and buy-in from the management team, but mostly, the employees.
The newest approach is ongoing feedback. This is providing feedback on performance year-round whenever works best for the employee and manager, such as after the completion of a project or a recurring monthly/ bi-monthly meeting. The best part is that it doesn’t need to be more than five minutes. It is a very informal, honest discussion providing consistent feedback and follow-up on progress. The employee can talk about accomplishments they are proud of or areas where they are stuck by giving a brief self-evaluation. Then the manager can ask if they can provide any assistance, hold the employee accountable for committed goals, and provide any positive or constructive feedback. Have the manager document any topics discussed, areas to focus on, where the employee stands on reaching their goals or any other relevant information and then file it.
The reason this process is supposed to be more beneficial and increase engagement levels is that it doesn’t relate only to compensation and it focuses on a culture of accountability. It takes away the stigma of the dreaded formal review process and promotes more consistent communication between the manager and employee. Consistent feedback is informal and short in time creating more honest, relaxed conversations. It helps correct employee performance or behaviours in a timely manner and gives them added motivation to remain a high-performing team member. A lot can happen in a year and with the annual review process there are many performance and behavioural issues that have been left for so long, they could be beyond fixing. It is also hard for the manager to remember everything from the previous year that they may have wanted to touch on and now too much time has passed. With the ongoing feedback, it means you are being proactive versus reactive, the employee knows the meetings will happen repeatedly and that’s when all recent performance concerns will be addressed. This is more proactive as opposed to when you only have an annual review and every other meeting between manager and employee is reactive based on incidents such as not following policy, displaying negative behaviour and so on.
Addressing performance more than once a year, on a more ongoing basis keeps performance, behaviours, core values and goals top of mind creating a workplace with more engaged, high-performance, accountable employees. It also makes it easier for the managers to recall or jot down notes on any performance or behavioural successes or areas for improvement and address them while they are still relevant. Gone are the days of the annual review process. Ahead are the days of empowering the managers and employees to make ongoing feedback a priority and something to look forward to.