The End of Performance Management (as you know it)

Shivasankari Bhuvaneswaran

April 19th, 2018 Performance Management  

Performance Management Automation

Can a single phrase turn your workforce into a bundle of nerves, and practically induce office-wide anxiety? Try ‘performance reviews’! Everyone hates the old-fashioned, stress-inducing, and time-consuming process, irrespective of their designation–whether employee or manager.

Year after year, people grumble, tremble, and crumble at the thought of experiencing the corporate ritual called the annual performance review. Instead of motivating employees to become more productive, the yearly review often does the exact opposite. Frustrated employees who are annoyed with the cumbersome process consider it a completely useless ceremony.

And who can blame them for loathing an unfair process that is seldom reflective of their real performance? How can you trust an assessment that could be rigged, and scores that can be inflated/deflated? Who wants to pay a literal price, in salary increments that might be based (say) on a lousy sandwich their manager had on the day of their performance review?

It’s time to toss out the traditional approach—no doubt. However, how do you measure performance without ratings and rankings? Here are five prominent ways performance management is evolving to better quantify and qualify how well someone does their work.

Not Yearly, but Continuous

How helpful is a long-winded criticism of an employee’s work when it is given months after the fact? Why do yearly performance reviews only seem to take in what happened in the last two weeks? Can the annual review still be considered fair?

High profile companies like Google, Microsoft, Gap, GE, Adobe have ditched the slowly dying traditional review process for a radical approach. Well, truthfully, they did not exactly ditch performance management—they simply re-engineered it. According to a Deloitte report, nearly 76% of organizations have reinvented their performance management process, making it continuous.

Gone are the dreaded days filled with the paper-heavy, time-consuming, dread-inducing process that measured performance with stack rankings and numeric ratings. They’ve been replaced by a frequent informal review (daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly) that no longer uses goal achievement as the only metric to measure performance. These check-ins don’t have to be a long-term affair.

If a manager spends a few minutes after a meeting to let subordinates know what went well, what could be improved, and what to expect at the next meeting, it can be a simple check-in. Setting regular short-term goals for employees helps managers offer real-time feedback; this improves individual performance and strengthens employee engagement.

Not an Afterthought, but a Focused, Ongoing Conversation

Most employees and managers consider performance management and appraisals an unproductive and highly irrelevant process that has no real impact on their job. And so, they tend to treat it like a painful errand they aren’t particularly fond of—something they’re forced to comply with. Even the formal meeting seems like a burden that eats away their productivity.

Most people use the last few hours before the deadline to fill their self-assessment forms. This disinterest is the main reason why the annual performance review is going extinct. Now, the yearly affair has been replaced by check-ins, where employees and managers have to meet regularly, set goals according to priorities, and give and take constructive criticism.

When the performance management conversation is merely a task to finish, it doesn’t yield great results—it just makes people bitter about doing busy work. When it becomes a focused conversation about how to measure performance and improve, it becomes extremely beneficial to everyone.

Not a Lecture, but a Conversation

Performance reviews can no longer remain a one-sided conversation where the more experienced manager tells the subordinate every way she needs to improve. The workplace is now crowded with Millenials and Gen Z who prefer having a say in practically everything they do. Traditional long lectures effectively put an employee’s brain to sleep, and have little to no long-term effect. The forced rankings, rigged ratings, and extensive paperwork don’t exactly paint a rosy picture of performance management.

The new approach of regular performance management opens an opportunity for a real-time two-way dialogue between the employees and the supervisor. A meaningful conversation that sets clear expectations, offers instant feedback, and discusses career growth is far better than writing long essays that describe positives and negatives in vague paragraphs.

Not Biased, but Fair

The traditional performance appraisal process has been anything but fair or transparent. How can employees trust a method that offers their managers leeway to play favorites? There are some managers who use the review primarily to justify their actions of giving juicy promotions to those they like best. On the other hand, employees can use self-assessment solely to defend their inconsistent performance.

Both cases nullify the intention of performance management as a whole. In case of a conflict in the rating, HR leaders would be forced to endure a long drawn-out investigation, and poring over stacks of filled out forms. Automation could inject some much-need trust and transparency into the annual review equation. A tamper-proof system that offers 360-degree visibility to the HR team and executives in the organization will ensure a clean and fair review.

Not Manual, but Automated

HR staff are quick to point out that the most distressing factors about performance reviews are the paper trails—document management. Traditionally, performance management involves filling out paper forms, following a designated process flow, and having formal discussions.

Chasing employees to get them to fill forms before deadlines, and managing paper shuffling, can be nerve-wracking for HR managers. Moving the entire process online and automating it might save you from dealing with yet another clunky performance appraisal. You don’t really need a high-end HRMS to automate your annual performance review process. A simple workflow tool can do the job better.

The workflow tool starts the review process by giving you a pre-filled form that automatically captures all the necessary data and ensures that every form has the right data. You can have standard fields for the employee and managers to encourage a back-and-forth conversation.

After the form is created, designing a workflow further makes the process easier and more useful to all the stakeholders. Automated reminders, feedback loops, predefined process flows, and effortless manager approvals reduce manual intervention, save time and make the complete workflow seamless.

Thinking of revising your performance management strategy and automating it? Try KiSSFLOW to build a customizable performance management system that improves the experience and satisfaction of your employees, and empowers you to build a strong workforce and amplify your profits.

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