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The Paleolithic Era Called, They Want Their Performance Reviews Back

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I’m going to go out on a limb here to say what most of you are probably thinking, performance reviews suck.

I used to get an email from my manager once a year asking me what I did over the past twelve months, how I think I performed, and what were my strengths and weaknesses. So instead of working that day, I spent hours carefully crafting a document that painted me in the best light possible.

Sound familiar? That is the standard employee performance review. It was invented by cavemen to see how other cavemen were doing with their wheels. The only problem is that many companies are still using this outdated process.

Well I am happy to report that there is a better way. Some businesses are soliciting regular employee feedback and using that information to support employees on a daily or weekly basis. So when review time rolls around, performance has been recorded and guided towards continuous improvement.

Bonus: An epic guide to rethinking the annual performance review process. Complete with stats, case studies and links to resources. Read the guide.

For your reading pleasure, here are my favorite articles on the subject of the ever-evolving employee performance review:

1. Why Businesses Should Rethink The Annual Performance Review

By Donna Morris

The SVP of People and Places at Adobe recognizes that annual reviews can actually sabotage an employee’s professional growth. They are also time consuming, are dreaded by employees and managers, and often resulted in voluntary attrition.

In 2011, Adobe shifted out of the old paradigm. They focused more on forward progress than past performance, and realized that ranking and rating employees ran counter to their otherwise collaborative and creative environment. The new strategy was called Check-in. Managers articulated clear expectations and goals, and a process was created for managers and employees to regularly share genuine feedback.

2. Why That Yearly Performance Review Isn’t Working

By Dan S. Kennedy

In his book, No B.S. Ruthless Management of People and Profits, Dan Kennedy writes that contemplating one’s own thinking, actions, and progress only once a year makes no sense. He advises replacing annual reviews with personal development interviews. Rather than simply evaluating behavior, PDIs are used to encourage, support, and motivate employees.

15Five Caveman Performance

3. DOD Hashing Out New Civilian Performance Appraisal System

By Andy Medici

When the Feds develop an employee review process that is more cutting edge than yours, you know that it’s time to re-evaluate. Congress has ordered the Department of Defense to develop and institute a new system to rate performance in a way that is “fair, credible, and transparent.”

What is most impressive is that the DOD is creating groups to communicate on the appraisal throughout the year, not just at year’s end. The system will also give employees a voice by taking their feedback and concerns into account.

4. 31 Things You Should Never Say During A Performance Review

By Jacquelyn Smith

Employees can easily get defensive and resent the review process, but it is beneficial for them to listen and demonstrate that they are open to the growth opportunities that come from receiving honest feedback. Smith highlights 31 phrases that often come up for employees while their past performance is being scrutinized. She strongly urges people not to utter the following:

“I’m going to find another job unless…”

“If you think I’m bad, you should see…”

“You’re wrong” or “Are you kidding me?”

“I’m not paid to…”

No matter which side of the process you are on, the annual performance review has value for both talent and management. But taken by themselves, reviews are quite frustrating and not an accurate reflection of actual performance over a 12-month span.

Soliciting employee feedback each week provides employers with detailed information about accomplishments and challenges that can be acted upon in time to make a difference. That information provides an objective historical record of performance over time that is complete, comprehensive, and qualitative.

I’m not suggesting that you reinvent the wheel. Just use more of them more often to move your business forward at a much faster pace.

Miz_15FiveDavid Mizne is Content Manager at 15Five, the leading web-based employee feedback and alignment solution that is transforming the way employees and managers communicate. David interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement. Follow him @davidmizne.

Image Credits: Lord Jim, Duncan Hull (edited), & Michael Coté

Are you still using the same old annual review process or have you discovered something better? Tell us about it below!