Yearly performance reviews won't provide the feedback culture HR leaders want, study says
- The traditional annual performance review is misaligned with HR leaders' performance management goals, a new Betterworks study found. According to the 2018 State of Continuous Performance Management Survey, conversations about aligning business goals, check-ins on progress and periodic feedback should be used to manage and continuously motivate employee performance.
- HR respondents in the study identified their top three goals for their performance management program as creating and maintaining feedback and coaching cultures, retaining high performing talent and training the workforce on needed skills. To better manage and motivate workers, Betterworks said, employers can help employees find purpose and direction among change, connect employee contributions to the organization's larger goals and identify and reward top performers.
- Citing HR leaders and people managers, the study concluded that annual performance reviews cause tension and anxiety for both employees and managers, fail to improve performance, are overly subjective and don't provide employees with quality feedback.
The traditional annual performance review, without intermittent feedback or periodic check-ins, has faded from prominence. As Harvard Business Review concluded, traditional reviews focus too much on past performance, leaving behind the opportunity for forward-thinking growth. Still, some employers insist a yearly look-back on performance, sometimes bolstered by a mid-year chat, has merit.
The once-a-year assessment reportedly came out of the industrial revolution when employers wanted to see if workers had met their goals and set future objectives. That approach might have been adequate then, but today's workplace is much less formal and more focused on motivating employees for maximum performance, rather than disciplining them for past failures or missteps.
Employees have said they prefer real-time feedback on their performance. In a Wakefield Research study, more than 60% of employees said they feel the traditional performance review is outdated, and nearly all respondents said they prefer that managers address performance issues and development opportunities in real-time. Frequent, informal assessments allow workers to improve or correct their performance with immediacy.
Technology has enhanced performance management, allowing for more frequent feedback. In an August interview with HR Dive, Mischa Riedo, co-founder of QuercusApp, said that instant feedback from multiple sources for a particular project is possible with just one click. By employing tech tools, feedback can be timely, specific and actionable. This capability may incentivize employers to upgrade any outmoded technology to make the performance review process and other functions more meaningful, immediate and less stressful for employees and managers.