Annual performance reviews are difficult for all involved. For the employee, they’re scrambling to remember what their goals were for the year and if they were able to meet those goals. For the manager, they’re trying to sum up a year’s worth of work and feedback into one review. There’s a lot to cover, and little time to do so.

While organizations put a great deal of effort into the review process, the traditional method of reviewing employee performance doesn’t produce a quality conversation that’s well suited for today’s work environment. In fact, a majority of employees believe traditional reviews have no impact on their performance, and only 5% of managers are satisfied with performance reviews. Something has to change, and that’s why more and more organizations are throwing them out and rethinking their review process.

As you begin to transform your performance management strategies, questions will arise. How often should managers and employees meet? How will employees be rated and how does pay align with those ratings? How simple or complex should they be? Should data be involved? If so, how does data play its part?

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These questions can divert you from the most important aspect of reviews: employees need to be held accountable for their performance in a more inspiring, helpful way. By doing so, you’ll see more productive, engaged, and happy employees (and managers).

Frequent Reviews Make Accurate Reviews

Fair and accurate feedback is critical to the performance of an employee. In fact, 85% would consider quitting after an unfair review. And the more infrequent they are, the more difficult it will be to recall all the details properly, which means that delivering a truly fair and accurate review is unlikely. There’s a lot of potential for change in one year, or even a few months, due to changes in leadership, personal and professional priorities, or business objectives. Having one-on-one conversations once a year doesn’t allow for changing priorities and expectations to occur naturally and in real-time. Consistent discussions better equip both managers and employees to keep their goals and development aligned with the right aspects of their greater goals as they pertain to the organization’s direction.

Continuous conversations also ensure that feedback happens in real-time, and provides an opportunity for regular documentation to refer back to in future conversations. This allows employees and managers to properly recall details within the right context and timeframe, letting nothing fall through the cracks.

Taking it a step further, accurate reviews leverage technology and data to see how an individual’s performance stacks up against the expectations that have been laid out for them. Having key metrics available to perform such an analysis makes a big difference in the efficiency and overall development of the employee.

Make Them Action-Oriented

Don’t hold reviews just for the sake of review. While it’s an important conversation for employee development, they should also aim to accomplish something tangible and set up future expectations. Creating action-oriented goals and using frequent conversations to track an individual’s progress can dramatically increase motivation to accomplish their goals. Here are a few guidelines to making that happen:

  • Give both recognition and feedback. Call out what they’re doing well and encourage attention to areas of opportunity.
  • Revisit your old conversations. Acknowledge when things from previous conversations are moving in the right direction, and when they could use more focus.
  • Coach and support them. Offer them the guidance, resources, or tools they need to succeed.

Instead of simply reporting back to your employees everything they’ve done since your last conversation, make sure there is a clear outcome. Set a task, deliverable, or short-term goal to complete. These conversations should not only discuss performance, but drive it, too. You want employees to feel empowered and excited about where they’re heading, and giving them small, achievable outcomes helps them feel like they’re making real progress.

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Work Together

Performance reviews shouldn’t be a one-sided conversation. Managers and employees are a team and need to work together to achieve their goals. Viewing these one-on-one conversations as an opportunity for a coaching session is a more effective way to frame the matter at hand, more so than a performance review. Coaching is a form of training and development that fosters a meaningful relationship between a manager and an employee, allowing the employee to leverage the knowledge and expertise of their manager to get the tools they need to carry out their own development. By allowing individuals to contribute their own input, feedback, wants, and needs, managers provide them with an environment where they feel supported and encouraged to find success.

To facilitate a forthcoming conversation with individuals you should:

  • Ask them about their vision for themselves
  • Listen with curiosity
  • Be accurate in your reflection by showing you understand their needs
  • Be supportive
  • Provide constructive, honest feedback
  • Communicate clearly

These conversations should be a mutual discussion of what the individual wants and how the manager can help them get there. Conversations where the employees are being talked at, rather than listened to, can contribute to feelings of lowered morale, decreased autonomy, and less confidence. By working together, individuals gain a sense of contribution to and control over their own development, and are more likely to work towards accomplishing goals they’ve set for themselves.

With Caliper’s Essentials for Coaching, you’ll be able to motivate and engage your employees so they feel passionate about the work they’re doing. Want to take a look at how our products can help your company? Get in touch with our experts, and we can get you on the right path to developing more successful employees.