On May 5, 2016, the Colorado Rockies scored 13 runs in the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants, setting the franchise record for the most runs scored in one inning. Not surprisingly, the Giants pulled pitcher Vin Mazzaro in the sixth inning and on May 6, sent him packing. What is the lesson in this painful Giants story for HR managers? The lesson is that the Giants didn’t wait until the end of the season in October to call Mazzaro into a meeting and tell him they didn’t like his performance in May. Mazzaro got immediate feedback and the Giants took swift action.
Imagine if performance appraisals worked much the same way with immediate, actionable feedback instead of end-of-year paperwork and unmotivating rating systems. What would the impact be on your organization and your employees?
The Why of Ditching Traditional Performance Reviews
It may sound scary or revolutionary to think about doing away with traditional performance reviews, but the idea isn’t entirely new. In fact, in 2015, GE nixed their review process along with Netflix, Adobe, and Accenture. In 2016, the Harvard Business Review reported that as many as one-third of U.S. companies have followed suit.
Performance reviews weren’t created with bad intentions. Employers didn’t set out to create a painful process that produces little value for supervisors and employees. Instead, the intentions were to 1) uncover who the best employees are so they can be promoted and compensated appropriately; 2) identify the low performers that may need additional training, job reassignment, or to be terminated from the company; and 3) motivate employees by recognizing good work, making them feel valued and recognized.
Chances are good, however, that most organizations know who the best employees are without reading an annual review. They also know who the underperformers are.
And if an employee is doing a good job, why wait a year to tell her?
Enter the Better Way
Businesses have indeed taken their cue from baseball managers and realized the value of immediate, ongoing, and transparent feedback for employees. Frequent check-ins between managers and employees allow for conversation and coaching and provide time for reflection on projects and performance. This type of communication system allows for more agility and recognizes that in today’s business environment, employees’ roles are fluid and teams change over time based on company goals and needs.
Having a method in place to easily provide and track ongoing feedback may help businesses make the leap from a traditional process to a more informal one. Today, software allows managers to quickly give employees feedback. A less painful process for managers may mean that they are more willing to give ongoing feedback and allows employees to view their performance in real time.
If you’re thinking about ditching the annual review process, you’re in good company. Traditional is fine as a decorating style, but may not be effective in today’s business climate.