How To Update Your Performance Review Methods

by Guest Writer

This guest post about updating performance review methods is by David Mizne, Chief Contributor and Editor of the15Five blog. It ties in nicely with the “Self-Review” solution card from our Choose Happiness @ Work card game and facilitation tool.

Everyone — from employees to HR professionals — has realized traditional performance management techniques aren’t delivering the results or insights businesses need. That’s precisely why 70% of multinational companies have at least begun investigating other methods.

Annual performance reviews are stressful for everyone involved, and they provide employees with limited opportunities to address weaknesses. On the other hand, a continuous performance management approach offers them many opportunities to learn and grow.

Why Continuous Performance Management is Effective

Continuous performance management is superior to annual performance reviews for many reasons. First, this strategy is more likely to yield useful insights by allowing managers to constantly monitor employee performance.

When preparing for an annual review, managers must prepare to evaluate an employee’s work and development over the course of an entire year. As a result, it makes sense that they’ll often overlook information and details that could have been valuable to an employee. Continuous management, on the other hand, involves gathering relevant information on a weekly or monthly basis. This results in a more accurate understanding of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses.

Additionally, continuous performance management helps employees grow more effectively than annual performance reviews. If they receive feedback regularly, they have more opportunities to coordinate with management as they make efforts to improve their performance. If you were to identify an area where an employee needs to improve, they’ll feel more comfortable in their ability to do so when you can meet again soon to determine if the steps they’re taking are yielding the desired results.

It’s also important to remember that employees want fair performance reviews. Continuous performance management lets them participate more actively in the review process, boosting the odds that they’ll believe your process is fair. Because continuous management involves a degree of self-review, employees will also take more ownership over the changes they need to make.

The Value of Self-Review in Continuous Performance Management

Self-Review: Choose Happiness @ Work!
Self-Review: Choose Happiness @ Work!

Managers should use the self-review process to contextualize an employee’s role within the overall organization. During your review, allow your employees to consider how the work they do impact the entire company. This demonstrates the recognition of their contributions, and it encourages them to focus on achieving clear goals.

That said, it’s important to understand how to organize the best self-review to achieve the desired results. These points will help:

1. Start by Describing the Job

Research indicates that workers experience greater “psychological safety” when their roles are clearly defined. As a manager, you should begin the strategy for continuous performance management with a self-review process. During this time, start by clearly describing an employee’s job and outlining their responsibilities. Although this may seem redundant, it can help them feel more comfortable at the start.

2. Ask the Right Questions

An effective self-review in the scheme of a continuous performance management strategy shouldn’t merely ask vague questions like, “Do you think you are succeeding in your role?” Asking the right questions is key to getting useful insights. The following are examples to consider:

What are your three main strengths? Since your last review, how and when have you applied them to your work?

Psychological researcher Mihály Csíkszentmihályi popularized the idea of a flow state: a state in which a person is engaged in an activity to such a degree they don’t even notice how much time has passed. A person in a flow state is typically more productive than at any other time. They also feel their task is rewarding, which can boost engagement at work.

Flow is more likely to occur when a person applies their skills to a task that matches their abilities. Thus, asking your employees to assess their own strengths can help them find ways to enter this productive state more often.

What three accomplishments or “wins” that have occurred since your last review would you most like to celebrate?

Numerous surveys and studies reveal that employees want to be recognized for their contributions. However, evidence indicates that typically doesn’t happen often enough. A Gallup poll indicates that a mere 19% of workers feel their managers genuinely acknowledged their most recent successes.

Luckily, it’s also been shown that engagement tends to rise when management reviews employee accomplishments. Give an employee the chance to discuss their proudest moments at work, and engagement will follow.

How would you like to improve? How would you like to impact the overall company by the time your next review occurs?

Letting employees honestly evaluate their weaknesses is just as important as acknowledging their accomplishments. That’s because managers who provide employees with opportunities to grow to see engagement levels rise. However, for an employee to feel they have such opportunities, they must first be able to discuss areas where they wish to improve. Only then can management offer them the resources they need to do so.

Remember these points as you modify your own performance management techniques. Again, self-review can be a very useful component in the process. Using questions like these during the process will yield valuable insights that boost everything from engagement to productivity.

Replacing Outdated Models

When employees, managers, and HR agree that annual performance reviews aren’t working, it’s time to make a change. Shifting to continuous reviews is the best strategy. This method helps managers accurately keep track of an employee’s performance, and it gives employees far more opportunities to grow. That’s ideal for everyone at the company.

“Self-review” is one of the science-based solutions featured in our card game & facilitation tool, Choose Happiness @ Work.