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Even if you’re ready to take the plunge into agile performance management, you’ll more than likely have some questions. In this blog post, we’ll give you the answers to our continuous performance management FAQs.

At Clear Review, we’ve written a number of articles and blog posts about the many benefits of continuous performance management and why businesses are choosing to shift to an agiler performance management approach.

Hopefully, you are already convinced of the business benefits of regular performance discussions and are open to shaking up the stages of your performance management cycle. But you may still have concerns and questions you want to explore before taking action.

Below, we’ll cover issues such as whether you can still use ratings in conjunction with continuous performance management and how to get employees and managers on board with this new approach. We’ll also discuss how modern performance management software can help you transition and strengthen your HR processes.

Are performance ratings and continuous performance management incompatible?

If you’re up to date on the latest performance management trends, you’ll be aware that performance ratings are plummeting in popularity. The debate on whether or not to use performance ratings has been raging for a number of years. Critics say they are subjective, demotivating and create a fight or flight response in employees, thereby negatively impacting performance. Furthermore, there is little evidence that high ratings correlate with good performance. On the other hand, many companies still favour them as a convenient way of allocating bonuses and performance-related pay.

Although many organisations who have adopted continuous performance management have also got rid of ratings with great success (GE, Microsoft etc.), it is possible to use performance ratings alongside a continuous performance management approach that is developmental and focuses on quality feedback.

The key to getting this right is ensuring that performance ratings are ‘decoupled’ from the regular performance discussions and are collated via a separate process. Honest, developmental conversations do not mix well with assessments and ratings. This is one of the reasons why traditional annual appraisals are not effective drivers of performance and engagement as they attempt to do both, and fail.

In summary, although performance ratings are flawed in many ways, if you feel that they are necessary for your organisation, it’s worth noting that ratings are more objective when used in tandem with continuous performance management, as the ratings are based on a number of meaningful discussions and feedback collated throughout the year, rather than on a single meeting which is susceptible to many forms of bias.

How can my company manage pay and promotion decisions using continuous performance management?

At Clear Review, we’ve come up with a simple but effective tool for managing pay decisions alongside continuous performance management. Our performance review software has a feature called Viewpoints which enables HR to collate and analyse the views of managers about their team members’ performance and potential using either ratings or targeted questions (a technique preferred by Deloitte).

As recommended by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in their 2016 performance management research report, the Viewpoints process is kept separate from the check-in discussions and continuous feedback that take place throughout the year. Typically our customers carry out a Viewpoints round either annually, bi-annually, or quarterly, depending on their pay and promotion cycle.

Separating pay performance in this way means that the regular performance discussions are more honest and open, as employees don’t feel they are being judged at every turn. Yet it still allows organisations to make informed decisions about pay, bonuses and who is ready for promotion.

How will my managers have time for regular performance discussions?

If it’s hard enough getting your managers to find the time to complete their annual performance reviews, then how can a business possibly manage to incorporate multiple reviews throughout the year? This is a valid question, but in our experience with numerous organisations, having regular check-ins throughout the year actually, takes no more time than an annual appraisal (especially if you take into account the time taken by calibration meetings that often follow annual appraisals).

A well-structured check-in meeting can be done in around 15-20 minutes and is more informal in nature, so everyone involved is generally more accepting of this form of review than they are annual appraisals.

HR should also note that with this system, bureaucracy and form-filling should be kept to an absolute minimum. The process should be as straightforward as possible for employees and managers, which is why the inclusion of purpose-built performance management software can streamline the whole process and make everything more efficient.

Do I need performance review software to make continuous performance management work?

A very small company can probably make continuous performance management work without software. However, for most organisations, you won’t be able to successfully adopted a  continuous performance management culture without using performance review software that has been designed specifically for this approach.

You might think that we are biased, but we’ve had numerous organisations come to us who have tried to move to continuous reviews and feedback without software and failed. The problems they encountered included:

  • Not knowing whether or not managers were having regular conversations with their staff
  • Where conversations took place, they lacked structure and employees had a wide divergence of experience
  • Not being able to analyse data to feed into pay and promotion decisions
  • Having no audit trail of discussions and notes about under-performance
  • Feedback was given verbally and via emails, so it was difficult for managers to understand their employees’ strengths and areas for development

Purpose built software such as Clear Review solves all of these problems and makes for a much more engaging experience for staff, particularly millennials who expect their work tools to be real-time and digital.

If you’re transitioning to a more modern, continuous approach to performance management, our team at Clear Review are happy to help. Get in touch with us today to book a free performance management demo and see Clear Review in action.