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Is Now the Time to Get Rid of Performance Reviews?

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If you’ve ever had to conduct a performance review or have been on the receiving end of one, it might not surprise you to learn that 58% of people believe that current performance management approaches neither drive employee engagement or high performance.

If that’s the case, what’s the point of conducting them anymore? This is a sentiment that is beginning to be echoed across businesses in many sectors, sparking speculation that we could be about to move away from once-yearly chats (whereby we hope managers have been consistently engaged for 12 months while employees wrangle with a badly bulleted list of achievements) to a different model altogether…

Why do people think that performance reviews don’t work?

One reason for a creeping sense of redundancy is that performance reviews are thought to be over-generalised. Managers are thought to be too busy to conduct them in a way that really benefits employees, resulting in reviews that skim over the important details (if indeed reviews aren’t late, or even fail to take place at all, that is).

As a result, poor performers evade repercussion and leave without being given instruction to improve. More problematic is the fact that the best employees are left feeling frustrated and resentful that so much of their hard work has gone unnoticed, without clear direction on how they’re going to achieve their next promotion or increase their salary.

Secondly, the current format whereby we participate in performance reviews in once-yearly meetings risks what has been dubbed the ‘short term memory review’. This kind of review occurs when managers end up basing an annual review on what they can remember from the last month, rather than the last year. Unsurprisingly, this is unfair on employees who have consistently worked hard for an entire 12 months, allowing lazy teammates to step up their game for a few short weeks and worm their way their manager’s good books…

So how can performance reviews be improved?
It might be the case that OKRs are the way forward, replacing traditional annual performance reviews with a method that is more specific and can be addressed at various points throughout the year. ‘Objectives and Key Results’ is a review system made famous by Intel (and Google), requiring employees to outline their main objectives before identifying actions that need to be taken to achieve them (key results).

Why is now the right time to embrace OKRS?

The beauty of OKRs is that it places responsibility for professional development squarely on the shoulders of the employee. In turn, managers are simply called upon to facilitate their teams’ performance, rather than arbitrarily judging them and send them packing with either a pay rise or a warning.

And, because OKR reviews are specific rather than sweeping and generalised, progress against objectives can be monitored using the kind of systems provided by companies like UpRaise. This serves to ensure that objectives are met and identifies any stumbling blocks that employees may be facing throughout the year, preventing team members from feeling defensive, dissatisfied or demotivated after sitting down with their managers. Does this all sound like reason enough to switch up your performance review process? Perhaps now’s the time to give it a try…