Love them or hate them, performance reviews are here to stay — but they don’t have to be painful

Merely the idea of a performance appraisal is enough to evoke feelings of dread in the average employee. Managers and employees alike tend to regard appraisals with pure apprehension, for a number of very real reasons. They’re too formal, they’re too infrequent, they aren’t effective, they take up too much time and they are often unfair to the employee being appraised. You might have wondered, on more than one occasion, if you would be better off eliminating performance reviews altogether.

Tempting though this idea may be, ridding your company of performance reviews entirely is rather like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Your performance management system might not work as it is, but rather than throwing in the towel, you’d be better off trying to improve your existing processes and finding a way to hold effective performance discussions with your work force.

The fact of the matter is, companies need performance reviews. HR needs to know how employees are doing, what training is required, whether people are sticking to their targets and whether or not an employee is underperforming. For these reasons, the performance review is going nowhere. The good news, however, is that the performance review is improving and evolving, thereby becoming infinitely more bearable for both manager and employee.

Below are just a few ways you can adapt your performance review process to make it more bearable and helpful for all involved.

Have more regular, but more informal, performance check-ins

If you hate performance reviews, it might sound counterintuitive (not to mention, completely unappealing) to improve the situation by introducing more of them. However, regular, meaningful monthly check-ins are actually far more time efficient and useful than a single annual appraisal. Companies such as Microsoft and Deloitte have arrived at this assumption and now enjoy a range of benefits, including improved retention, increased employee engagement and better performance.

Annual appraisals try to get too much accomplished in one sitting. There is simply too much to discuss: goal completion, achievements, issues with existing processes, goal setting for the year ahead, training and development, and more. It makes much more sense to carry out informal monthly discussions, which will keep everyone updated on existing progress, and it will also give the managers an opportunity to address performance issues as soon as possible. What’s more, this is something employees increasingly want. Employees want to build a relationship with their manager, and they want frequent feedback. In fact, 72% of employees under 30 would love to receive daily or weekly feedback from their manager.

Eliminate performance ratings and stack ranking

Our understanding of human performance has moved on, and neuroscience research has made it increasingly clear that performance-ratings systems all too often negatively impact an employee’s motivation and productivity. Not to mention, performance ratings are generally far more subjective in nature than we believe them to be, which seriously calls their efficiency into question.

On top of this, stack rankings systems have been increasingly falling out of favour. General Electric, the company famous for introducing the notorious rank-and-yank system, have eliminated the tool as part of their performance management system. Microsoft and Amazon have also eliminated ranking, for good reason. They’re time-consuming, subject to bias and terrible for employee morale. There are more effective, future-focused methods to assess performance than performance ratings that can be incorporated into your performance management system.

Keep performance discussions future-focused

Performance discussions should be about improving future performance, rather than placing a great deal of focus on past mistakes and poor behaviour. It’s important we learn lessons and grow as a result, but spending performance discussions berating employees for their errors isn’t productive or helpful.

Instead, discuss what the employee’s future goals are, and what steps can be put in place to ensure those goals are met. If employees require training and development, managers should make sure they are provided with all the tools and assistance they require. Ultimately, this will result in greater levels of motivation, and your employees won’t dread their regular one-on-ones.

Empower your employees to take control over their own performance

Independence and autonomy have quickly become the top workplace perk and one of the leading HR trends of 2017. It’s very simple — employees who feel they are respected and trusted to perform their work on time and to standard will be more motivated, loyal and productive. Micromanagement is counterintuitive, as is rigidly attempting to control the method by which the employees choose to work.

Consider giving your employees authority over their own SMART objectives. Ask them what motivates them, and what restricts their performance. In your performance reviews, make it clear that your employees are important to the growth of the business, and they are in charge of their role. Eventually, employees will demonstrate greater pride and confidence in their work, and they’ll feel better able to take the driver’s seat during performance discussions.

Make use of a performance review software to facilitate the whole process

Regular performance discussions might be a significantly more useful and evolved form of the old-fashioned performance review of yesteryear, but they do require a lot of tracking and organising. For a busy organisation, this can pose a problem, particularly if the software and tools they have in place don’t complement this way of doing things.

Using a cloud-based performance review software can help you organise regular discussions. It can send out reminders to attend meetings, it can track SMART objectives and it can keep HR involved during every step of the process, ensuring full transparency. On top of this, most performance management software, including Clear Review’s own software, have interfaces that are based on social media platforms. This means that the technology is easy to use, intuitive and doesn’t require any training.

If you’re looking to revolutionise your performance management system, get in touch with our friendly team at Clear Review. Book a performance management software demo and we’ll show you how we can help you improve your existing HR processes.