A better way to do performance reviews. Low-tech conversations make the world go round.

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a better way to do performance reviews

Don’t jump! There’s a¬†better way to do performance reviews.

More engaging. Less expensive. Better all-around.

I was asked recently by a young practitioner if there were any online “performance management” systems.

I actually guffawed. There are…tons. And they’re basically clones, in the sci-fi sense; each copy is slightly less effective than the one that came before it. For an exhaustive (and exhausting) list, click here. But, before you do, I warned – ask yourself this question: Do you want to manage performance or do you want to improve performance?

The subtext of the question was whether there is a better way to do performance reviews. Often the line between performance, engagement and employee development gets blurred between the accountabilities of leaders, managers, HR, and employees themselves. Most systems provide a “flat form” for ratings. They certainly look cooler and cooler, but mostly they suffer from the same shortcomings. No content; no assistance. And no proof they actually improve performance. Not even a hint!

So, are we building new apps and shopping solutions just to waste time? The old “pen and paper” files that still clutter your office shelves are just as effective!

Hi-tech doesn’t equal high quality

Folks who know, know this is true. Ultimately, and unfortunately, these systems generally serve as high-tech replacements for the paltry processes of the past that we’re seeking to replace. They reinforce the same top-down approach that leave leaders underwhelmed, manager’s overwhelmed, and employees frustrated. There are a plethora of great posts on how “broken” performance management really is. For a scathing yet readable review see Liz Ryan’s recent post on Forbes. The interaction between the failure of performance management and the negative impact on employee engagement is known, yet generally ignored by practitioners. Big sigh…

Some systems include 360-feedback functionality. Others veer into modeling compensation. Very few help ensure basic accountabilities are met (think tactics) yet allow for employee-driven development (think strategy) .

My advice is this. When shopping for a “better system”: Think development first!

    • Does the system enable employees to take control of their objectives and demonstrate their progress over time?
    • Can leaders ensure that managers remain accountable to hold one-on-ones and regular reviews?
    • Can HR draw forth the necessary analytics to address the core question: Do my performance reviews actually improve performance?

If the answer is no – then, what’s the point?

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