The Performance Review Problem: Maybe More Frequency Is the Answer

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Aug 13, 2013

By now, regular readers know my position on the traditional annual performance review — it serves a function to provide formal, documented performance feedback on a regular basis.

But its challenges are built into its delivery model – too infrequent (annual), too focused on feedback from just one person (the manager), and too fraught with angst on both the part of the manager and the employee.

Regular readers also know the solution I support, which is described in detail by Globoforce’s CEO Eric Mosley in his latest book The Crowdsourced Performance Review – enable everyone to provide regular, timely, ongoing feedback through detailed, positive recognition of achievements and contributions in line with the company’s core values.

Blending the frequency and informal nature of crowdsourced recognition and praise with the formality and long-term view of the annual review process provides the balance needed to both.

Where do you stand on mid-year reviews?

What the solution is not, however, is adding another formal review at mid-year to the already formal process and believing you’ve solved the problem. SmartPulse, the weekly, non-scientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership, recently asked readers “What is the status of your mid-year review?” with the following response:

  • I’ve delivered mid-year reviews to all my team members: 16.45 percent
  • I’m in the process of writing/delivering mid-year reviews: 28.02 percent
  • I haven’t started working on mid-year reviews: 18.77 percent
  • I’m not conducting mid-year reviews: 36.76 percent

The failure points of simply adding another formal review to the traditional review process are clear:

  • Less than half of managers conduct them.
  • They don’t fix the problem of one point of input (the manager) to the review process.
  • They’re still too infrequent.

Needed: More frequent feedback

The conclusions drawn about this survey by SmartPulse include this statement: “Your people can’t improve on things they don’t know are issues.” That much is true. And mid-year reviews (along with the annual review) are important for providing constructive criticism and, perhaps, redirection of effort.

But employees still require more frequent, more timely feedback on those efforts – are they delivering in ways that are helpful to you, the team, the company and client? Positive recognition in the moment meets that need while also helping the manager see a more complete picture of achievement and contribution when that recognition comes from peers and colleagues across the company.

How do you or your employees receive regular, timely, specific feedback on your efforts at work?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.