The business world is becoming faster, more efficient and more innovative. In coordination with these changes, many HR professionals are evaluating classic annual reviews to see if there is a better way to do things. Let’s take a closer look at some of the modern performance management alternatives that are often discussed.
One-on-ones are an informal opportunity for managers and employees to regularly meet face to face.
- Demonstrate interest in the employee. Quite simply, one-on-one check-ins let the employee know that they matter to the manager. These can help build an employee/leader relationship.
- Act as an early warning. These informal meetings can help identify struggles or issues early on.
- Opportunity to listen. Many people are looking for an opportunity to be listened to, and these one-on-ones provide a chance for employees to tell their story.
- Easy to postpone. It can seem simple to postpone or cancel these one-on-one meetings. If this becomes a regular habit, it can send a message to the employee that their role or work isn’t as important.
- Time-consuming. These meetings can be hard to manage if a manager has multiple direct reports.
- Hard to measure. These meetings often don't have a formal reporting structure to help capture an employee's progress against goals throughout the year.
As the name suggests, these mini-performance evaluations happen with an employee four times a year. These can be formal or informal meetings to discuss performance from the last quarter.
- More interaction with employees. Meeting an employee at least four times a year provides an opportunity to deepen the leader/employee relationship.
- Timely feedback. Instead of asking an employee to keep a yearly scorecard, managers can provide feedback as things happen. This allows an employee to act on recommendations immediately.
- Reduce admin load. Managers can pull together information from these conversations to perform annual performance reviews.
- Manager commitment. If a manager has many direct reports, this meeting frequency can become a burden.
- Lack of long-term focus. When you are reviewing progress on a shorter-term basis, it can be hard to focus on the big picture.
Project-based reviews are distinct from other types of reviews because they focus on the last project an employee completed. Project-based reviews combine feedback from project managers and others from different teams who also worked on the project.
- Goals are clearly defined. Project-based work tends to have very clear objectives, scope, and deliverables. This can help guide reviews.
- Timely, relevant feedback. Managers and employees can discuss relevant feedback from others who worked on the project while the work is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
- Meaningful performance records. Project-based reviews can quickly surface patterns of excellence or signs of trouble in an employee.
- Not a one-size-fits-all solution. Projects can be too big or too small for this to work. Daily or weekly project reviews would quickly become overwhelming, and multi-year projects could leave employees with very infrequent reviews.
- Time-consuming. Since input needs to be gathered from a variety of sources beyond the direct manager, this style of feedback can be time-consuming for both the manager as well as peers and project leaders.
Goals and Goal Check-ins
These meetings focus the discussion on creating and measuring performance and progress of an employee’s SMART goals. It typically doesn't involve a formal analysis but could be documented.
- Provides timely feedback. This helps keep employees engaged with and thinking about their goals throughout the year. It also provides an opportunity for discussions when things are not going well.
- Goal tracking. This also allows managers to track an employee’s activities related to goals and objectives.
- Can be too focused. If employees and managers are only discussing goals, there may be other successes or challenges that are not being discussed.
- Overly impersonal. Discussions about goals and progress against goals can be very impersonal. These meetings don't often contribute to building a strong employee/manager relationship.
In a nutshell, continuous feedback includes any assessment that happens on a regular basis. These can be formal or informal meetings.
- Provide immediate evaluation. These meetings help address issues and celebrate successes as they happen.
- Summary of objectives. Employees are reminded of their responsibilities and overall objectives and can be sure that they are on the right path for success.
- Hard to see the big picture. When you are meeting on a regular basis, it can be harder to identify the milestones in measurable goals.
- Keeping a consistent schedule. Continuous performance reviews can only be successful if they are indeed continuous.
Organizations have many performance management options. The best process for your organization may actually bring together elements of several of the processes described above. The bottom line is that any employee performance review process needs to accurately reflect performance and ultimately be effective.