Performance Reviews? How About Crowdsourced Feedback Instead?

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The groundswell against the traditional annual performance review as the primary/sole means of employee feedback will soon bring an end to this approach, I believe. The latest such diatribe appeared in this week’s Wall Street Journal, in an article that began:

As some companies flatten out their management hierarchies and encourage more team-work, they’re doing away with traditional top-down, manager-led performance reviews and leaning more heavily on the rank-and-file for evaluations.

“Some are using new online technology to regularly collect ‘crowdsourced’ feedback. Others are asking their workforces to participate in more formal peer reviews throughout the year. The thinking is that more people can provide deeper insight into an individual’s performance than a single manager.”

Yes, 360° reviews don’t work either

I’ve never been much of a fan of the usual 360° review approach that directly solicits some (but not all) employees to provide directed feedback on a specific colleagues, usually those higher up the food chain. This approach simply doesn’t work because it’s not a true crowdsourced approach.

It fails on two fronts:

  1. It fails to encourage transparent feedback from anyone; and,
  2. It directs employees on what they’re allowed to give feedback about.

True crowdsourced feedback, on the other hand, changes the game entirely. As Gartner said in a report earlier this year (“2012 Strategic Road Map for Employee Performance Management,” requires subscription):

Leading organizations will start to move toward more bottom-up feedback, recognition and rewards… Budgets will shift from traditional, top-down-determined, annual merit increases and incentive compensation to bottom-up, event-specific and more frequent rewards.”

A more effective approach

As The Wall Street Journal article points out, the new approach is simply more effective:

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The new breed of feedback is aided by a growing number of employee-recognition software programs and social networks that enable workers to post quick real-time comments, sometimes anonymously; solicit “how am I doing?” feedback; or post praise or recognition for a colleague.”

How are employee reviews handled in your organization? Annual appraisal from the manager only? Supplemented by a traditional 360° approach? True crowdsourced feedback included? Real-time feedback from the crowd?

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

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.