Why you should ditch the annual performance review

Traditional annual performance reviews are increasingly being replaced by more frequent performance conversations or ‘check ins’.

Traditional annual performance reviews are increasingly being replaced by more frequent performance conversations or ‘check ins’.  This is hardly remarkable considering that to achieve success people need to know how they are going at all times not just at the end of the year or on completion of a project. 

Research tells us that in order to create a learning culture, we need to effectively use all the data we have around us and continuously learn from it. 

Research also tells us that annual performance appraisals, cause stress in individuals, can be subject to subjective bias and do not necessarily ‘measure’ the most appropriate attributes or competencies.

There is an increasingly large body of research that articulate why we should ditch annual performance reviews in favour of regular feedback and discussion; here are my top 3; 

They focus on the past

Behaviours, failures or successes that have occurred in the past should have been dealt with at the time.  If a child demonstrates a behaviour that is unsatisfactory, or a team loses a match, we do not wait until the experience has been stored in the recesses of the brain to provide feedback.  It is instant, or at the very least at the earliest possible convenience.  This way, expectations of both parties are managed.  Workplaces should be no different.  It is the definition of insanity to allow the same thing to happen over again and expect a different result.  Providing feedback as we go and focusing on immediate improvement will bring about the best results.

Frequent feedback sparks creativity

It is the millennial way of life, we are fast paced and increasingly able to adapt to changes around us.  Regular check-ins enable us to make changes iteratively.  Feedback that is given constructively and focusses on development can inspire individuals to perform and try things they would not normally try.  Typically, individuals will take the safe option when they think they are being evaluated, it may be that we have rewarded this type of behaviour in the past, however, I would argue that maintaining this mindset may not be the ideal status quo for any business. 

Frequent feedback increase in staff morale

There is an increasing amount of research that suggests that departing from annual performance reviews in favour of on the job feedback increases staff morale and reduces turnover.  This is hardly surprising, the brain is constantly seeking feedback, ‘Am I doing what is expected of me? Am I doing it right? Am I adding enough value to maintain my position within the team?  Answering these questions or questions such as these, satisfies one of the core requirements of the brain.  Answers to these questions enables the brain to learn, and develop, providing constant and never ending improvement which in turn keeps staff engaged, increases morale and ultimately reduces turnover.

There are of course some fundamentals that must be followed if you will be relying on more frequent feedback loops when it comes to performance management.  You can read about those in my next blog.

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