Part II – The Future of Performance Management

Preface: In part I of this blog series, we looked at the current state of Performance Management (hint – it’s not altogether great). We are in a world where giant multinationals such as Accenture, Deloitte, Adobe and GE have decided that they are moving away from the annual performance review process towards an on-going feedback system. But what exactly does this entail? Let’s take a look at how Performance Management is evolving today.

The question Accenture posed to itself when they decided to move away from annual performance reviews was “How do we get the best value out of the time and money we are spending?”1 and its answer was that performance management had to evolve from just simply trying to measure the value of an employee’s contribution after the fact. It needed, instead, to regularly support and position employees to perform better in the future. The key word here is ‘regularly’. Not the traditional ‘once-a year’ mandatory review where appraiser and employee struggle to remember all the nitty gritty, but an on-going process of review and feedback to mentor and adjust every step of the way.

“How do we get the best value out of the time and money we are spending?” – Deloitte 1

And this, like GE’s new real-time performance development process, allows employees and their managers to clarify expectations, provide feedback, and set relevant goals on an on-going basis throughout the year.

But in order to combat the ineffectiveness of the annual review, moving away from it has to come with better results, more time-saving and higher organisational performance. Reviews can no longer be a one-way street; interaction and feedback has to be both ways. And each step of the way, feedback has to be recorded, performance documented, and career paths developed.

So rather than being a once-a-year process where people are force-ranked, the general sentiment seems to be moving away from a structural and administrative burden to more frequent, real-time periodic feedback to let employees know where they stand on an ongoing basis.1 Basically ensuring that employees are consistently on the journey with the whole organisation, knowing and striving for the same organisational goals. And this focus on those same goals is reinforced with on-going feedback after every project, rather than once a year when it becomes too late.

How do we get there?

On-going feedback might sound like the annual review multiplied several times. If paperwork for one annual review is already considered insurmountable, what about on-going reviews? To execute this on a paper-based system negates the objective of higher productivity. Fortunately, technology has caught up to pave the way for a better and higher performing organisation. At the same time that annual performance reviews are slowly falling out of favor, new performance management technology solutions are on the rise in awareness and acceptance. And this is no coincidence.

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Modern talent management systems and technology are the enabler of this improved performance management process to ensure nothing falls through the gap. With this technology to aid in an on-going feedback system, numerous benefits can be realised:

  • Employees will be constantly reminded of their KPIs and can perform better
  • Employees will appreciate the interest in their success as and when they occur
  • Instruction and coaching can be implemented immediately when objectives are not met
  • Changes in objectives can be addressed immediately
  • Requests for additional support, training, resources, etc. can be met in a timely manner
  • Regular feedback can help employees build their skills and independence
  • Regular feedback also increases employee productivity, quality of work and effectiveness
  • Regular feedback can prevent cumulative problems from occurring

So in the direction of embracing on-going feedback and scaling back annual performance reviews, the future of performance management looks bright, with organisations achieving higher productivity and ultimately better performing employees, all aided by modern talent management technology that helps makes this possible.

References:

  1. 3 Things to know before eliminating performance evaluations. Chris Cancialosi, Aug, 2015