Just because “everyone” used to do something doesn’t mean it was the right or smart thing to do.
That’s one of the good things about humanity – we often (although certainly not always) improve many aspects of our lives as the earth keeps spinning.
Consumption of unhealthy diversions such as sugar-loaded cereal, soda and cigarettes is way down.
Value Hard to Find
If we can get smarter about what we devour, we should be able to do the same with the disdained annual performance review. Thankfully, we are.
Perhaps nothing in the HR field is under as much attack these days as the annual performance review, an event typically loathed equally by both employee and manager. As they prepare for this meeting, both parties need to gather their thoughts, notes and memories — a year’s worth of points of interest, highs and lows, successes and missteps, requests and suggestions. And then go through it all in 30 or 60 minutes.
That’s it – see ya next year!
No wonder it has become universally derided – the only surprise is why it took so long. Federal HR can do better – and it is starting to.
The annual performance review offers employees, managers and agencies little. It’s not conducive to strengthening either of these parties’ performance, and it’s not even conducive to learning and growth based on feedback.
It’s too little…and almost always too late.
The HR departments and the agencies HR serves are realizing how important employee engagement is for agency success. Much has been written about the federal employee engagement problem. Well, it turns out that engagement and morale are not served well by the annual performance review. With no immediate feedback for either side, it’s a detriment to morale and does nothing to help engagement.
Alas, there’s hope, just as with the decline of other bad habits.
A Better Way
Rather than a once-a-year review, a much-preferred way of doing business is for regular, more frequent interaction and exchange between employees and their managers. In the process of evaluating employee performance, an ongoing opportunity for feedback leads to not only better progression for the employee, but also for the employee’s team and the entire agency. With frequent interaction, an employee will be much more focused on his or her goals, and have a higher chance of achieving them. Correspondingly, the goals of the team and of the agency have a much higher chance of being reached.
Rather than the typical one-way street that is the reflection of the annual performance review, an ongoing approach becomes a continuous and collaborative effort – employees and managers are more likely to see themselves as part of a team effort, working for a common cause, the agency’s mission.
No more bottling up comments, ideas and feelings for a year – get everything out there and work together to achieve desired results, address challenges proactively and fix problems and potential problems as they sprout. And that nagging thought that slipped your mind during the annual review? That doesn’t get missed anymore.
Follow These Steps
So, how do you move away from the annual performance review?
Here are 5 high-level steps:
- Stop having annual performance reviews!
Commit to doing this now – ban them.
- Move your performance reviews online.
This move provides numerous benefits. It’s a time saver for everyone involved, as you can easily automate. It promotes ongoing updates and interaction. With reviews online and secure in the cloud, they are accessible to anyone with authorized access at any time. Employees will be more inclined to view and regularly update their performance.
- Set measurable goals and objectives year round.
The antithesis of the annual performance review is ensuring an ongoing, two-way discussion. With an open-ended process in place, and with clearly defined and measurable targets established, the chance of falling off track is greatly minimized. In addition, you’ll improve engagement, which leads to better organizational performance.
- Align personal goals with organizational goals and mission.
Make sure there is alignment, but also ensure that employees and managers understand the connection. This will greatly help the employees’ motivation, daily activity and prioritization.
- Analyze performance management data and trends
Once your performance data is online and there is an ongoing, defined dialogue between employees and managers occurring, the pieces are in place for further organizational improvements. The data will shed light and help answer numerous questions that will further align everyone in the agency to its overall goals and mission. The foundation is now laid to encourage continuous evaluation and improvements throughout the organization, from individuals and teams to the entire agency.
With the demise of the annual performance review, comes the birth of opportunity to completely transform your agency’s performance management – with employees, managers and senior executives all working in concert.
There’s more than hope – there’s a clear, proven way forward.