Sick of Annual Performance Reviews? Try These Options Instead

Do you sense that your employees hate performance reviews? There may be a good reason. Most appraisals are either one-sided, focus too much on past behavior, or leave personnel feeling like their days are numbered. The format of the appraisals often feels overly formal and geared toward punishment. Rarely does a performance review include the specific, actionable information staff members need to figure out how to overcome shortcomings and contribute more to the company.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, employees need ongoing feedback, communication, and guidance to perform to the best of their ability. If your company has been conducting annual performance reviews for the past few years without great results, it’s time to rethink your employee evaluation practices. After all, no one wants to engage in a pointless, form-filling exercise.

That’s not to say you should stop monitoring your employees’ performance; the key lies in the way you evaluate their efforts. Smart companies are embracing alternative appraisal techniques to convey issues, goals, and constructive criticism better. If you’re looking for high-quality alternatives to the dreaded annual review, here are some practices to consider:

1. Regular check-ins

Instead of meeting once a year, consider checking in with your employees on a monthly or quarterly basis. The big difference here is that the meetings will be tied to smaller, short-term objectives while offering more frequent opportunities for recalibration and discussions. You can also supplement these regular, one-on-one meetings with specific, real-time feedback on where employees currently stand and what they can do to align their efforts with the future goals of the company. When performance discussions happen in higher frequency, it allows both managers and employees to talk about what is future-focused instead of what has passed.

2. Feedback apps

There are feedback apps that you can integrate with your existing software. These tools allow managers to get advice on how to handle challenging situations and personnel to solicit feedback from others. Additionally, they have the ability to leverage various data points to help you create a comprehensive employee profile that you can utilize in staff development plans over time. When choosing an app, look for a simple interface to search, filter and review all the feedback you’ve given. Another thing to look for is the option to link goals and competencies to an integrated management system. This feature makes it easy to revisit discussions in conjunction with growth and development objectives.

3. 360 review

As you might have figured by the name, a 360 review offers a holistic insight into an employee’s performance. The viewpoint is typically based on feedback from multiple sources that personnel interact with frequently, such as coworkers, leaders, and the people working under them. Employees are then assessed on a set of standardized criteria like consistency, reliability and empathy. This type of evaluation is supposed to be an ongoing process. Rather than have a single person evaluate the performance of an employee once a year, a 360 review accounts for the perspectives of everyone that employees interact or work with over time.

To get the most out of this appraisal technique, make sure to:

  • Promote a culture that regularly appreciates the presence of 360 reviews.
  • Keep the profile of the respondents anonymous so that every participant remains unbiased when giving out his or her feedback.
  • Use 360 reviews for both executive and junior positions (those in higher-level positions rarely receive accurate appraisals).
  • Give non-monetary incentives to potential participants, such as acknowledging them for supporting and being engaged in the process.
  • Make it mandatory to participate where performance reviews are a necessity.

4. Continual feedback from managers

One of the biggest arguments against the annual performance review is that don’t provide a forum for continual feedback from managers. As a result, employees aren’t told what they should do differently as the year goes on, and they may be unnecessarily improving the wrong skill sets or focusing on tasks that don’t hold any value to the company. This leads to frustration on the part of both employees and managers.

To prevent this from happening, work with your managers to give frequent feedback, which can also be provided for positive reinforcement. Ensuring this practice is ingrained in the company culture can help personnel know they’re doing well. In some ways, this tactic translates to a move where managers act as coaches who help employees along the way. However, managers may require some additional training in order to make this work.

As you work to make your review process more meaningful, you will likely discover improved employee engagement and satisfaction within your organization. As a last tip, make sure to try out each of these approaches and then analyze the results to see what works best for your company and employees. As a professional placement agency that favors high-touch, customized business relationships with each of our clients, we’re the first to say that no two companies’ business cultures are alike. Being open to different options—and willing to keep working for the right solution—will lead to a happy and productive workforce.