Traditional Performance Reviews
Performance reviews can be painful. Let’s face it. Usually HR or your manager kicks off the annual ritual by asking for feedback on yourself, sometimes without involving you immediately. Sometimes the feedback is anonymous. Feedback results are revealed to your manager with consequences for your career and salary.
It’s not always a fair trial and it doesn’t always result in more learning as well. Nor does it result in more trust and a more meaningful relationship with your manager and colleagues. Sometimes it’s more like just a verdict from an anonymous source. Some experts even call it “workplace bullying”.
This article describes a new way of reviewing people’s performances. Why big data should be created, yet gathered in small steps, day-by-day, week-by-week, on a continuous basis without huge effort and why this will result in better quality feedback, better performance reviews, and better relationships.
In a 2012 Globoforce report, 770 HR professionals were interviewed and the number two finding was as follows: “Performance management remains stuck in neutral. Annual performance reviews continue to under-serve the needs of many HR leaders, opening the door for more feedback-rich technologies.”
Traditional 360º Feedback Tools
Firstly, traditional annual 360º feedback measurements are inaccurate and disengaging. The concept of 360º feedback – bringing in more perspectives, is good. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that the quality of once-a- year feedback is low. It’s given too late to be accurate, there are too few data points and the feedback often misses context (the specific situation the feedback was about) so learning from the feedback is low. Deloitte underlined in their recent Human Capital Trends report (2013): "Modern organizations turn to just-in-time feedback". Delayed feedback serves no purpose.
According to Deloitte: “For team members, on-the-spot improvements based on immediate feedback from their peers can have a big impact on performance. Plus, as individual and organizational goals are increasingly tied to project cycles that last a few months or weeks, the fiscal year can become less relevant.”
Consider Paul. He is a senior account manager, and has worked for 8 years at the company. This year, he has been involved in over 80 client meetings, performed over 200 conference calls and meetings, participated in 7 projects and met over 50 unique people, both internally and externally. He’s even written a few blogs and joined a dozen discussions on a forum, and visited quite some network events. He spoke with Sandra, his manager, about 4 times this year, 3 times on the fly, one time for about 45 minutes for the mid-year review. Except for the mid-year review there’s no record of their discussions. Paul performed all of his work jointly with many others (some external to the company) on many different occasions.
Now look at what Sandra does. She’s requested by HR to prepare Paul’s annual review. She wants to ask 4 people, and uses an internal feedback tool to ask 40 questions. The tool Sandra uses is anonymous. Building trust and creating actionable learning results aren’t HR’s objectives for now. Let’s analyse the data points collected this way:
- 4 people asked, 4 givers of feedback: 100% response rate
- 160 data points all clustered at year-end: that’s disappointing, given the true dynamics of Paul’s work and the high number of people he comes in contact with during the year
- lack of accuracy (some people interacted with Paul 6 months ago and couldn’t remember the situation very well)
- lack of context (Paul received the feedback but doesn’t understand who said it and what situation was being referred to) no learning opportunity for Paul (without context and name of person he can’t figure out what he could have done differently)
- no relationship building (anonymous feedback means you can’t build peer-to-peer mentoring.
Social Continuous 360º Feedback Tools
The new generation of mobile feedback tools empower employees to ask for feedback on the competencies they want to focus on, when they want it, from whom they want it, no matter wherever they may be. This still generates 360º feedback but the employee is in control using the feedback to learn, gain personal insight and build trusting relationships with their network. The feedback is of higher quality because it can be requested within hours of an event while people’s memories about it are still strong.
Now, look at what happens when Paul and Sandra deploy a mobile feedback tool for continuous, social 360º feedback. Feedback is asked continuously, limited to 3 questions per request, keeping response rate and reliability high and workload low (30 seconds). Feedback tips can be given via a private note to speed-up learning and create actionable results. In addition, a feedback score generates a continuous flow of data points. This means a lot of data generated over the course of the year in a continuous flow that can increase learning by 30 percent. Let’s analyse the data points collected this way:
Paul uses the application once a week or 50 times a year asking 3 questions each time to 3 different people generating 450 data points spread out through the year
Paul has contact with different people in his role so at year end he has feedback from 50 unique people over the course of the year
Most of Paul’s feedback is received within 48 hours of an event so reliability is high
Paul knows who he has asked so he starts to respect and build trusting relationships with those who take the time to give him honest and open feedback
Learning happens continuously as Paul’s tips can be employed the next day and Paul understands the context of the feedback
The New Performance Reviews
Organizations can revamp their performance review processes by embracing the new generation of feedback tools on the market that will empower employees to get their own feedback, gain personal insight and drive their own development. The big data generated by these continuous feedback systems can also provide organizations with a more accurate profile of their people’s competencies. In the new performance review process the manager takes the role of a coach: accommodating and accelerating team members.