A talented workforce is at the core of every successful organization. Key priorities including engagement, retention and a robust talent pipeline, are intrinsically connected to effective performance management … but it may be time to rethink your approach.

Traditional annual reviews are rapidly becoming a thing of the past in favor of instant, ongoing feedback to drive improvement. More than one-third of U.S. companies have abandoned old-school review processes and replaced them with frequent, less formal check-ins.

Roll With the Changes

Employee evaluation is only effective when used for both individual and business growth. And today, many businesses no longer have clear annual cycles. Projects tend to be short term and changing, so goals and tasks cannot be plotted out a year in advance.

  • To build an empowered workforce, you need to do more than simply audit employee progress. Work toward a process where ongoing support and improvement are your top priorities. It must, of course, align with your plan for creating products and bringing them to market.
  • You can still have end-of-year summary discussions with employees, but emphasize more frequent “touchpoint” conversations. GE launched a pilot of such a model in 2015 with 87,000 employees. Based on its success, it was adopted company-wide.

Emphasize Teamwork

Traditional performance review systems often do nothing to enhance performance or track collaboration at the team level. For instance, how can you ensure your frontline and back-office departments are working together to optimize customer service?

  • Adopt a system that follows the natural cycle of work at your company. Ideally, conversations occur when projects reach key milestone points, are finished or challenges arise – rather than having a specific time frame attached to them. Discussion centers on goals and strengths, not just past performance.

Hold on to the Best of Past Practices

You don’t necessarily need to gut your current performance review process. In fact, you should retain best practices such as:

  • Alignment of individual and company goals: Employee objectives may be pegged to specific projects, but should continue to reflect overall organizational goals, mission and vision.
  • Appropriate recognition and rewards: Continue to acknowledge good work. But rely more on managers’ qualitative judgments, versus numerical ratings. Keep performance improvement plans in place for those identified as needing extra support.
  • Coaching and mentoring: Improved performance and engagement are the byproducts of consistent feedback. Continue to hire for potential and then provide the right support to optimize performance and close any identified skills gaps.

When it comes to developing the best performance review process for your company and its unique needs, consider partnering with the workforce development experts at StaffMasters. We’ve been providing strategic staffing solutions to leading companies throughout the Carolinas for more than three decades – and we have the answer for you.


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