Are Performance Reviews On the Way Out?

Performance reviews…the dreaded checkup that causes nerves and cringing everywhere! The antiquated practice of scoring and ranking employees has mostly passed to the wayside, as new tips and tricks for effective performance reviews have come to light. Some of these new techniques and tactics for performance reviews include self-evaluations, performance ratings and goals based on actual projects and past performance rather than an objective number rating system. However, some companies are choosing to do away with the standard process altogether, and in lieu of performance reviews, managers are conducting “performance conversations” and apps to provide feedback to employees on a consistent and constant basis.

Even Jack Welch of GE has done away with standard performance reviews and stacking ranks, made popular by GE in the 1980’s and 1990’s, in which the top 10 employees on the rankings would be promoted while the bottom 10 employees would be terminated. Seems pretty cut and dry, right? But what were these rankings and numbers based on? When it comes to performance reviews, can the manager really be 100% objective? When dealing with people in general, objectivity is not always possible. People are subjective, people have opinions, and people cannot be 100% unbiased, it’s just not in our genetic makeup. So with that in mind, performance reviews will never be completely objective. Which leads to the point of this blog…why are companies making the move to performance feedback apps and performance conversations? Because it’s time for the tide to turn and for managers to rely less on objective ratings and more on honest, comprehensive, accessible feedback. And for employees to have access to that feedback year-round, not just in a 1-hour meeting for their annual performance review.

One obvious reason for this change is the rise of mobile technology, and the creation of a generation completely dependent on mobile technology, instantaneous response, and information at their fingertips. Another reason is that managers nationwide are averaging seven employees under their leadership, as opposed to the four employees of the ‘90s. This leaves less time for individual coaching, something that technology and feedback apps can assist with because of the sheer volume of management duties required for the increased number of employees to be reviewed/managed. Third, the modern world now operates on a fast-paced system that just doesn’t jive well with an annual goals system. The immediacy of life in the 21st century calls for faster response, more frequent feedback, and quicker access – something that mobile technology and feedback apps can bring to the table.

People management is possibly on the way out as news way of thinking about leadership and managerial skills are surfacing…and personal and professional growth within the workplace has become a strong presence in workplace news. So changing up the way that we manage people in the workplace makes sense. As we have now survived the challenge of the first month of a new calendar year, maybe it’s time to put a review of your company’s performance management tools on your to do list for February!