Assessing Your Performance Assessment Process

02/08/2019 by Sheila Feldman

How do you feel about your performance management process?

Yes, it’s the process we love to hate. It demotivates, absorbs too much non-productive time, is bureaucratic, neither boss nor employee does it well (or at all), and it doesn’t seem to improve performance. So why do it? Aren’t lots of companies doing away their processes?

In 2011, Kelly Services was one of the first professional service firms to eliminate appraisals, focusing on frequent feedback. And, GE famously changed its traditional process of annual reviews, complete with ratings and rankings. They moved to short-term priorities with frequent “touch points” between supervisor and employee and the ability for the employee to give or receive feedback at any time from anyone who can provide insight. They retained a year-end summary discussion. Microsoft, Adobe, Deloitte, and Accenture are examples of others who made radical changes to their processes.

Every employee (including the CEO) will always want to know and have a right to know… HOW AM I  DOING???

Whatever companies choose to formally do or not, we will always need to give real-time feedback, recognize and properly reward contributions, and have a way to help employees improve performance. Simply put – it makes the organization better.

On-going feedback will enable organizations if its leaders make the commitment to do it right. So, we must teach our people leaders how to have the conversations and then hold them accountable for doing so.

What makes for a good conversation? First, leader and employee must be aligned on expectations at the start of the performance cycle. It’s critical to assess ‘what’ has been accomplished …and ‘how’. Is the project on course but not done in the collaborative manner expected? Was success attributable to strong problem-solving skills? Influencing skills?

When should you give feedback? Don’t wait for the once-a-year dreaded discussion! It’s best to give it ‘in the moment’. So do we need a year-end review? Yes, the employee needs a final assessment of the full- year contributions. And, it will be used to determine performance relative to others on the team and how compensation should be distributed.

Finally, a solid process should incorporate a development plan. What are the one or two critical actions that, if taken, will make the biggest difference?

Should a company have ratings? Calibration meetings? How should performance be tied to compensation decisions? All important questions for the leadership team.

As the war on talent begins to heat up again, developing and engaging employees will be a critical priority. The traditional performance review process, usually limited to a ‘rear view’ look at performance, won’t satisfy employees who demand developmental feedback and a forward-looking career discussion. The organization must believe in the value of feedback and make it part of its DNA. Employees follow their leaders.

Want some help with your performance management process? Contact McKee-Burke & Associates to start a conversation on improving your performance management process.