Managers know that employee training and development isn’t just for first days. Development is an ongoing process that should be assessed on a regular basis to ensure worker and manager are both aligned with the same goals.
The primary tool for accomplishing this goal is the performance review. Managers use these sessions to track progress, address areas of improvement and in some cases even determine eligibility for raises and promotions. However, especially as the workforce evolves and positions become more complex, the standard paradigm of annual or semiannual performance reviews has grown obsolete and ineffective. Companies that want to maximize their employee effectiveness and get the most out of their evaluations should consider ways to update their review practices to fit with the new millennium.
The current state of evaluations
Performance reviews are ubiquitous in most companies, with Business & Legal Resources reporting that 92 percent of corporations surveyed conducted some form of performance review. However, the frequency and efficacy of such practices is largely questionable. For example, 73 percent of companies indicated that they perform their evaluations annually, while only 13 percent stated that they carried out reviews every six months.
While this is by far the dominant practice when it comes to evaluations, more and more companies are beginning to realize that annual or even semiannual performance reviews simply aren’t cutting it when it comes to driving performance.
“A feedback culture is driven by daily conversations, asking for improvements on performance or giving a pat on the back. The longer the period of time between the act and the conversation, the less useful it is,” behavioral scientist Darren Hill told the Australian Financial Review.
The level of dissatisfaction with current performance review practices is growing, with a BLR-reported 76 percent of companies rating their evaluation practices as at- or below-average.
The dangers of insufficient evaluations
For some, employee evaluations may seem like a necessary evil. They may be viewed as an unwanted expenditure of time and resources for little in the way of measurable advantage. However, avoiding these reviews or resorting to the bare minimum standard of once-yearly evaluations can be a serious detriment to a company.
Unaddressed areas of concern, specifically when related to performance, can and often do lead to loss of efficiency. When employees aren’t working to meet expectations, this can negatively impact a company’s revenue or, in the case of some customer service reputation. The longer such concerns go unaddressed, the more efficiency or revenue is potentially being lost. Thus, it’s in a company’s best interest to adopt an evaluation policy that is organic and responds to needs as they arise, rather than the current static trend.
How to beef up performance reviews
Some companies have been leading the way when it comes to exploring new methods of approaching the performance review. On-demand video giant Netflix is one notable example, reported by the AFR to have shelved the conventional performance review for a more comprehensive and regular alternative. One method they have adopted is the comprehensive 360-degree review, in which employees and managers sit down to talk about behaviors and attitudes that are working, as well as those that aren’t.
Another effective strategy is the performance preview. This puts a spin on the classic evaluation format and takes a forward-looking approach, determining what goals the employee and the manager have, and what performance milestones will need to be hit to meet those objectives. This can help to reaffirm objectives, and instills a sense of ownership and accountability in staff members by reinforcing the point that they are responsible for meeting their performance goals.