More organizations are ditching their annual performance review process. Companies such as Microsoft, Accenture, Adobe, Deloitte and GAP have revamped their performance processes, in some instances gotten rid of rankings and the annual evaluation. Some organizations are also uncoupling the process from the timing of their compensation review process. Much of this change is exciting. Revamping these systems was long overdue.
There are lots of good ways to improve this process. How you approach it should be predicated on what you are trying to achieve as a business and the outcomes you expect. There is no perfect system for all companies. There are however some foundations that will make whatever you do more effective and before you implement big changes you should attend to these first:
Ensure you have a really good talent acquisition process.
From many years helping clients with performance practices, it is abundantly clear a majority of performance problems are due to “poor fit” in the first place. Poor fit can be about:
Hiring the right people in the first place is key to making your performance process better.
Everyone knows what is expected and how he or she contributes.
Clarity is one of the most important dimensions in performance. Companies are implementing better goal-setting practices, which is a good start. More work needs to be done up front by managers to set clear expectations and anything else they use to evaluate performance. It is woefully common for me to hear that teams do not know what is expected of them or that expectations are a “moving target”. Make sure the vision, goals and expectations are clear and confirm all your employees know how they contribute. As with everything, these are all dynamic and change happens throughout the year. You always need to do more to communicate this than you think. And this goes both ways. If you aren't sure what is expected of you, regardless of your level, ask.
Your leaders are prepared.
Performance management is a people process and you need people to engage and implement. Build buy in for the change and provide the vision as well as the detailed “how”. There is no way of getting around that ultimately performance conversations are dialogues and we know some leaders are more skilled at this than others. Some companies do quick "check ins" with “yes” and “no” answers (“Would you invite this person on your team/project again?”) and that is great for quick evaluation. Organizations need to invest in people’s development, the best of which happens day to day, on the job. And this requires performance and coaching conversations.
The only other thing I recommend for all leaders these days, especially at the higher level, is that they take greater responsibility for their own performance review process, ask for feedback and make sure they are making adjustments throughout the year based upon what they hear. If you want your team to do this, you need to model it.
When you have the right people in the right roles, they know what is expected of them and there are ongoing, timely feedback and development conversations, everyone can become more skillful, offer more value to their organization and feel good about the contribution they are making to the enterprise.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.