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How to Better Use Performance Reviews

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Erin Cushing
on July 08, 2016

When it comes to performance reviews, it turns out that both employers and employees are unhappy with the way things currently are. In fact, a recent TINYpulse survey found that 37% of employees think the performance review process is outdated. A study by the Hay Group found that a third of business leaders view performance reviews as a “to-do list item” to get through. Clearly, this sentiment reflects the ineffectiveness of poor feedback.

The problem stems from the structure of the traditional annual review. By their very nature, they are biased towards recent work, and are subjective, based upon a manager’s expectations and biases. The entire process takes too long to complete, and because of this time constraint, goals aren’t clearly articulated and the employee walks away with too little feedback to actually affect their performance.

So how do you fix performance reviews and make them better?

Enable More, Diverse Feedback

First, stop relying on annual assessments. Enabling frequent feedback collection and distribution is one of the best ways to empower employees to improve their performance. What’s even better than simply empowering managers with tools or technology to provide this type of response is to empower all relevant stakeholders with 360 degree feedback technology. Feedback from peers, colleagues, direct managers, and indirect managers can give an employee a more robust picture of their performance in real-time, allowing them to make the adjustments and decisions needed. When these snapshots are added to a more formal annual review, managers are better prepared to give a more thorough review – and employees are better equipped to turn that evaluation into actionable improvement.

Prepare for the Conversation Long Before it Happens

It can be tough to be a manager; apart from your actual leadership tasks, you often have project-specific work to complete as well. This overload no doubt is what leads to managers taking a “just get through it” approach to reviews, but performance management is a critical element to motivating, engaging, and retaining the best talent at your organization. Managers have to take the time to thoughtfully prepare not just the actual evaluation, but how to communicate the results to each employee. What is the message you want to convey? How do you want the employee to feel and what do you want them to think about after the meeting? Remember: employees quit managers, not jobs; don’t let the structure and quality of their review process make them want to quit you.

Empower Yourself and Your Employees with Better Performance Technology

A lot of the problems that plague modern performance reviews can be mitigated by a solid performance management strategy and the right technology that supports that strategy. Your performance technology solution should enable 360 degree feedback, as well as the ability to collect and give that feedback anytime. It should also allow managers to align performance goals to business objectives, and have the ability to connect with compensation data to create a pay for performance environment. These technologies will help better prepare both managers and employees for the review, and will allow each to walk away from the encounter with actionable advice to drive progress and better business and individual results.

Performance reviews don’t have to be awful; with the right techniques and tools, you can turn your performance management activities into useful elements that motivate and retain employees.

Looking for that next-generation performance management system? It can be tough to know where to begin your search. Use this performance management technology buyer’s guide to help you navigate the process, from assessing the market to implementing a new vendor. 

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