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Say goodbye to the annual performance appraisal

Is it time to say goodbye to the annual performance appraisal? Recent studies show current review practices are failing employees and employers alike. For example, only one in three people surveyed reported receiving feedback that helped improve performance. Less than 30 percent believed the goal of their review was to help them succeed. And fewer than half felt feedback was fair and accurate of their performance. Yikes!

It’s not that feedback isn’t welcome. In fact, employees need and want feedback—and regularly, too. Experts say employees are inspired and motivated by positive, constructive feedback. Unfortunately, the typical performance appraisal works against this. So, consider doing away with the old performance appraisals and implementing new-and-improved approaches to assess performance and provide feedback.

New and improved performance-appraisal methods

The goals of a performance review, regardless of method, should remain the same. Effective appraisals must address accountability, communication, performance and development—in a timely manner. Below are some methods and best practices that facilitate ongoing conversation, collaboration and engagement.

  • Weekly check-ins: Regular coaching is key to achievement and performance. A weekly check-in can be a much more effective and agile approach to assessment than the annual review, which is mostly focused on the past. David Hassell, CEO of San Francisco-based software company 15FiveSM, recommends checking in weekly with the following four questions: What’s going well? Where do you need help? How can you improve your job and/or the company? How’s your morale?
  • Monthly conversations: Winners at Work author Tim Baker advocates for a framework he terms “The 5 Conversations.” This method encourages ongoing dialogue between employee and employer with five 10-minute conversations, held over a six-month time period. Topics of conversation include job satisfaction and morale, training and development, ways to improve the business’ efficiency and effectiveness, improving performance and career guidance. Baker asserts this approach facilitates continuous dialogue that is more relaxed and natural, which encourages employees to be open and direct about their needs.
  • Other best practices: Regardless of the framework you choose, several other best practices may help you and your employees get the most out of your time. Alex Nabaum of Deloitte® University Press recommends separating compensation discussions from performance evaluations. He says, “… Conversations about compensation provoke an almost primordial ‘fight or flight’ reaction … which obviously inhibits the coaching process.”

He also advises making the review process easy and straightforward—simplify or reduce the number of forms used for performance assessments, or eliminate them altogether. You may even want to revert to a something as simple as the tried and true gold-star system. For instance, display gold stars on a leaderboard or distribute star chocolates, Thumbs Up Key Lights or “awesome” stress relievers to recognize a job well done.

Finally, ensure your review process is inclusive of top performers, less than satisfactory performers and everyone in between. “Hold everyone accountable, but give everyone coaching, development planning and training to improve,” Nabaum says. And, be sure you reward those who show significant signs of improvement. A company logo’d mug or tumbler is a nice way to let hardworking team members know you recognize and appreciate their efforts.

Say goodbye to the stereotypical performance appraisal and free yourself from living in the past. New and improved evaluation methods that facilitate ongoing dialogue, flexibility and engagement are moving in! For more on the subject, check out our performance appraisal Blue Paper.

“The Cornerstone OnDemand 2013 U.S. Employee Report.” Cornerstone OnDemand. Cornerstone OnDemand, n.d. Web. Retrieved 01 May 2015.

Bersin, Josh. “Time to Scrap Performance Appraisals?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 06 May 2013. Web. Retrieved 01 May 2015.

Vozza, Stephanie. “10 Reasons to Scrap Year-End Performance Reviews.” Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur Media Inc., 23 Dec. 2013. Web. Retrieved 01 May 2015.

Baker, Tim. “The 5 Conversations.” Winners at Work. Winners at Work, 01 Nov. 2010. Web. Retrieved 01 May 2015.

Nabaum, Alex, Lisa Barry, Stacia Garr, and Andy Liakopoulos. “Performance management is broken: Replace ‘rank and yank’ with coaching and development.” Deloitte University Press. Deloitte Development LLC, 04 Mar. 2014. Web. Retrieved 01 May 2015.

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