recycle-bgAs a provider of performance management software for the last 17 years, we can tell you without a doubt that traditional performance management processes, especially those that have been left out to fester over decades of business operations, can stink. We are never surprised when we encounter performance management processes that were set up with the best of intentions but never panned out to their full potential or even stagnated due to employee disengagement in the value of the system.

A Brandon Hall™ presentation on a new approach to talent management illustrates the ways in which traditional annual appraisal-based performance management processes can actually harm employee performance. Employees and managers come into their annual appraisals ill-prepared and unclear of expectations and leave with mixed reviews from subjective opinions based on inaccurate data.1

In recent years, the topic of the effectiveness and validity of performance management as a once-yearly appraisal process has come to the fore. Companies today tend to hire those with the strongest potential to align themselves with company values and objectives, so there is no longer the need to simply weed out the bottom performers once a year. Performance issues need to be addressed as they arise, and not allowed to continue until the end of the year. Managers cannot be expected to provide a blanket ranking on an entire year’s worth of performance at once (often on a forced distribution scale) and so meetings with employees can be uncomfortable for both parties. Employees today work with more than one group or leader and so a single manager simply cannot provide accurate feedback on performance.2, 3

Traditional performance management processes fail when they remain static and formal with the once-yearly meeting with only one manager to review goals set at the beginning of the year and probably not considered since. But does this mean that you should dismantle your entire review process? Absolutely not! It’s likely that your performance management process just needs a little tweaking, and it’s an easy fix if you simply add in one single element: continuous feedback.4

Transforming your organization’s review process in one easy step:

Adding year-round feedback to your process can be as formal or informal a step as you like. Instead of meeting with your employees only once a year, try touching base with them quarterly, monthly, or even weekly to monitor their progress on goals and projects. Use this time as well to provide the coaching and feedback that will allow employees to adapt quickly to a changing reality and address small issues before they become bigger problems that affect your bottom line.

Keeping notes on these regular check-ins will allow managers to get a better picture of an employee’s performance over the course of the year and will make any necessary rankings easier to calculate and far more accurate. To enhance the quality of this feedback you can encourage peers and other leaders to do the same, either through formalized 360° reviews or more casual social feedback happening in real-time. This is the sort of activity that is probably going on in your workplace anyway, but in adding it to your performance management process you can keep track in a way that will ultimately improve your employee’s performance. These forms of structured and unstructured continuous feedback ensure that milestones are recognized, goals and objectives are properly tracked, and potential problems are nipped in the bud. It’s a small change with a BIG impact.

Why not see for yourself how easy it is to incorporate continuous feedback into your performance management process?

Whitepaper: The Changing Face of 360° Reviews

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A New Approach to Managing Talent Laci Loew, Brandon Hall Group 8 May 2015.

Time to Scrap Performance Appraisals? Josh Bersin, Forbes Magazine 6 May 2013.

Appraisals: Abandoning the bell curve Apeksha Kaushik, 11 May 2015.

Continuous Feedback: It May Be a Better Approach than the Annual Review Kristi Erickson 22 August 2012.