Chances are good you’ve heard about the death of the annual performance review. Those rumors are greatly exaggerated. What’s really gone away is the “annual” part of the equation. Performance reviews still play crucial roles in helping your employees become their best selves.

Of course, there are performance reviews and then there are effective performance reviews. The challenge is delivering reviews that build up your employees while also providing crucial information necessary for growth and ensuring employee buy-in at the same time. It’s a tough balancing act, but it can be done. In this post, we will discuss some of the key factors involved in creating supercharged performance reviews that drive success and improved outcomes.

Supercharging Your Performance Reviews: What You Need to Know

Give Real-Time Feedback

The reason the annual performance review is being phased out is that it offers very little benefits. That applies to both the employee and the employer. After all, if you’re providing information about something that occurred months ago, what value does that offer the employee in terms of course correction capabilities?

Conversely, how is an employee supposed to incorporate feedback on something that is likely no longer relevant in an attempt to deliver more value to the organization? Simply put, it’s an exercise in frustration for both parties and fails to drive success.

Instead, focus on giving real-time feedback. That doesn’t mean that you need to review performance daily, but it does mean that you need to bump up the frequency of your reviews significantly. Even once per quarter is too infrequent. Our recommendation would be every two weeks at the least, but once per week is a better idea.

Real-time feedback offers value to the employee, but also results in value for the organization. When you’re able to discuss relevant performance-related issues, employees can make real-time corrections when those changes matter.

Digitize Your Process

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that digital technology is here to stay. It allowed businesses large and small to move to a remote work format when the pandemic hit, and it is still playing a significant role in that regard for most firms. Why leave your performance reviews in analog format, then?

Online performance reviews offer quite a few benefits. They’re streamlined for one. They also improve collaboration and communication. With the right platform, it is even possible to share supporting materials, such as documents, charts, graphs, and other aids to further clarify. Plus, it’s a simple matter to add voice or video calling to the mix to create a robust experience even for organizations where remote working continues to be the norm.

Customize Them to Your Company

Chances are good that you have seen them before – performance review templates and the like are a dime a dozen online. Those are great helps to get you started, but understand that like most generic things, they’re only good up to a point. Simply put, chances are good that they don’t really speak to what matters most to your company.

Instead of going the generic route, customize your performance reviews to your company. Use metrics that matter to you. Every organization is different when it comes to measuring and managing employee performance. Industry, niche, vertical, service/product type, culture – these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to factors that affect performance measurements.

Make sure that the metrics you use are the most meaningful. Options include timeliness, quality of work, ability to work as a team, ability to work independently, and more. When you match the metrics to the situation, you’ll find that performance reviews become dramatically more relevant.

Check Your Competency Models

Most organizations use competency models in their performance management efforts. However, those models are often inaccurate and incorrectly used. To ensure that you’re getting the traction you need, make certain that you’ve mapped out the most important roles within the organization and the competencies required to do them correctly.

With a better idea of the core competencies necessary for each position, you can provide more accurate feedback for employees during performance reviews. This will also help reduce the chance of providing low-value feedback focused on competencies that are ultimately unnecessary for the employee’s role in the organization.

Build in Recognition

No one wants to do a great job with no recognition. However, managers often neglect to recognize good work during performance reviews. This can lead to reduced engagement and even increase your turnover rate.

Build recognition into your process and offer more than just a pat on the back. Provide meaningful rewards for employees who do a great job consistently. This could be something as simple as calling them out for their hard work during a team meeting or giving them an early day off as a reward for a job well done.

The point is to recognize the great things that your team members do daily. Not only does that improve morale and engagement for the recognized employee, but it also bolsters them across the entire team.

Ask for Different Forms of Feedback

Good performance reviews should be two-way streets with give and take from both the manager and the employee. To achieve that, you will need to ask for feedback, but make sure to seek out different forms to suit varying requirements. For instance, asking, “What can I do to support you in your role?” is a great general question. However, asking, “What do you feel is necessary to accelerate this project?” is a much more specific question that will lead to more focused feedback.

Know what you want feedback on and then create questions designed to surface that information. Make sure you also take the next step and act on that feedback, though. Managers that seek out feedback but then fail to do anything with the information are rarely successful in managing employee performance.

It’s a Brand New Day for PM

The annual performance review is dying out, replaced by something more dynamic and focused on real-time feedback and course correction. Use the information in this article to supercharge your performance reviews, build engagement, and improve both morale and motivation.