Blowing Up the Annual Performance Review –Now What?!

35021322 - bad review words on a chalk outline for a dead body of a person killed by negative feedback, comments or criticism for poor performance

I’ve been reading with great interest over the past several months that some of the largest corporations in the world are abandoning a process that has been around long before I set foot in corporate America –the annual performance review.

I’m not here to comment on the pros and cons of ditching this process that many employees and employers hate.  My big question is this: What’s going to replace the annual performance review?  For many employees, it was the only time during the year (I’ll rant on this shortly) that they received ANY feedback on their job performance or had ANY discussion about their career development.

Large, well-known companies such as GE, Disney, Cigna, Bank of America, and others are moving toward having people-leaders give their direct reports more frequent feedback on their performance throughout the year.

More Frequent Conversations?

Allow me to rant here. The one thing I constantly hear from people-leaders regarding anything to do with managing or leading their people is, I don’t have time!”  Specifically, “I don’t have time to coach, to train, to be strategic.”  How in the world do we expect these same people-leaders to have more discussions with their employees if they feel so time-constrained?!

Know that I’m all for ripping up the annual performance review, though I think, if done right, it serves a good purpose.  I’m all for employees getting more frequent feedback, which I think is more critical today with Generation Y (millennials), and now Z, quickly becoming the majority of the workforce.

Freeing Up Time for More Conversations

For this new way forward, the first thing that should happen is senior management in organizations will need to devise ways to allow people-leaders to have more time and remove them from a lot of the day-to-day minutiae.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • As some companies are doing, go to war on senseless, endless emails
  • Blow up the constant need to be in conference rooms, on telephones, or on video in meetings
  • Let people-leaders make decisions that you hired them to make to run the business and lead their people.

These steps can lead to freeing up time for people-leaders to have more frequent conversations with employees about their performance.

How to Have More Frequent Conversations

Now for the other side –how do people-leaders have these more frequent conversations?  Here are some ideas:

  • Schedule quarterly meetings with each employee –and stick to the schedule. Even if you have to re-schedule, make it happen so that every employee has the opportunity to have a conversation. A one-hour meeting should be enough time
  • Just don’t go over goals and objectives, or metrics surrounding their job performance. Coach and give feedback on the behaviors that are leading to the performance metrics you are reviewing with them
  • Use the time as an opportunity to talk about how your employee is accomplishing the activities in their development plan (you do have these, right? If not, we REALLY need to talk).  If applicable, talk about their career progression, and their short and long-term goals to grow within the organization
  • Talk about what they need to do to move closer to their professional goals

The annual performance review revolution has started.  After every revolution, including the one that formed our nation, the real work starts with laying the foundation for a better way.

The opportunity is there to make the work environment better by providing more timely coaching, feedback, and development discussions that engages employees more.  Don’t blow it like organizations are blowing up the annual performance review!

Need help having the frequent conversations, or creating a development plan?  Click the link below to and complete the information form on the home page.

Walter W. Hoff is President of Development First, LLC, a leadership development consulting company that provides consulting, coaching, facilitation, and design services to companies in various industries who are focused on building the skills of present and future leaders of people.  He coaches and develops people-leaders on how to develop the skills of their employees in order to be able to navigate through constant change, resulting in more engaged employees, especially the millennials.  The benefit to the people-leader is more opportunity to be an effective, strategic people-leader.

Walter Hoff