The New Annual Review

There are lots of new terms floating around the performance management world, like “engagement” and “ongoing feedback”, but what do these really mean in relation to the annual review process?

Many times companies scrap the annual review to do monthly reviews that no longer include scores, or they require meetings between managers and employees that end with no documentation. While it’s great to make sure communication is happening, these options leave you with little data to report on and little documentation to go back to when looking at employment decisions. They can also leave managers burnt out and employees unsure of where they stand.

A great solution is to keep the annual review…that’s right! There is still an enormous benefit to sticking with an annual process that allows you to clearly evaluate staff, provide them the feedback they desire and give HR the data they need to make informed decisions. There is just a new way of going about it!

The main issue with annual reviews is the fact that no one remembers the entire year. The solution to this is giving your staff a system where employees and managers can document notes on performance and the ongoing discussions they are having during the year. That information can inform the review, which in turn, cuts back on the time it takes to complete these reviews, while also providing a more accurate perspective of the entire year.

You can also require managers and employees to have ongoing touch-points that focus on goal progress and what’s going well or what needs to be worked on. Those touch points should also be noted in annual reviews as well.

This new vocabulary has also led to the trend of removing ratings from reviews. While this works well for some companies, it’s not for everyone. Many organizations need the ability to run reports and by removing ratings from your reviews, you’ve essentially removed the ability to pull any data you may be using for employment decisions, bonus structures or merit increases. There are ways you can still use ratings, without making employees feel like a number. For instance, the feeling behind a 3 out of 5 rating is different than seeing you are “meeting expectations,” even though they are the exact same thing. You can use descriptions and titles that show employees where they are on a scale, without giving them the formal number they are used to seeing.

While the annual review might not be for everyone, it is still a viable option for most organizations out there. The key isn’t to create more reviews and more work for your staff, but having them work smarter by providing feedback that matters and a system that will centralize it into an accurate and engaging review.