Quarterly Performance Reviews are Misleading: Here is A Better Way to Assess Employees

A recent study from Reflektive revealed that 94% of executives feel employees are satisfied with their performance review process. But are they really? It turns out that 61% of office professionals feel their company’s review process is outdated, and they’re on to something. 

Diane Gherson, Chief HR Officer and Senior VP of HR at IBM, experienced firsthand how business in 2019 has outgrown traditional performance management models. IBM is no stranger to adapting strategically to rapidly changing business conditions, as it was founded in 1911 and has managed to maintain relevance, showing significant revenue growth since 2017. In 2015, Gherson found herself at the forefront of the reinvention of IBM’s performance management.

Like many companies today, IBM turned to “cloud, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity services,” and essentially sought to take advantage of the incredible technological tools that are revolutionizing the way that we work. Gherson found what some HR managers have yet to discover: revolutionizing the way we work means transforming the ways that we evaluate.

Gherson explains that in the traditional models of performance management, “a manager will oversee the work of an employee and, therefore, have firsthand knowledge of how they’re doing.” But now, we’ve drifted away from direct supervision in favor of efficiency, with the help of remarkable collaboration tools. She adds, “that traditional model is long gone” as work has become “more fluid.”

That fluidity itself is not bad. In fact, it’s opened up a plethora of possibilities for what work can look like in the future. But when it comes to performance reviews, most managers are stuck in the past. The quarterly or yearly review systems just aren’t sufficient for the fluid, innovative, diverse work being done in 2019, and don’t do justice to the employees accomplishing that work.

Wasting Time

Reflektive found that 46% of executives only conduct reviews on a yearly basis, though 74% of admitted they would prefer more frequent feedback. Yearly and quarterly reviews may seem like an improvement over the direct-supervision model. Exchanging the vigilance of direct supervision with just a few meetings, or even just one a year? What a bargain! 

But it turns out what appears to be a discount of time spent on reviews is just a redistribution of valuable minutes in--and even outside of--the work day. Executives spend an average of 15 hours outside the office making sure they have everything they need for a yearly review, yet Reflektive also discovered that 58% of executives frequently reschedule or delay reviews so that they “have more time to prepare the necessary materials.”

Then, even when the review finally happens, corners are often cut for the sake of time as 67% of executives have simply removed negative feedback from evaluations “because too much time has passed to bring it up.” Unsurprisingly, 62% of employees find themselves feeling that their reviews are incomplete. 

The sparse frequency of the traditional review system means that when review time comes, it becomes information overload for executive and employee alike, especially if there isn’t already some kind of productivity reporting system in place.


Vague Expectations

Midst all that confusion, it’s understandable that many employees find themselves baffled by their reviews. CEO coach Lonnie Martin warns that “a key contributor to employee discontent is having the employee thinking they’re doing a great job and then learning later they weren’t producing all the right outcomes.”

It’s like those professors in college who graded everything without a rubric, or at least some clear instructions. And if it was a project simply mentioned on the first day of class and never checked in on again? Well, then most students forget about it too, and the good ones can be found scrambling to compose something they can only hope will be passable.

Sure, your employees may not be naive college students, but if you don’t outline clear expectations and the corresponding metrics, trying to ace that yearly review is extremely stressful, if not impossible. According to Reflektive, 68% of office professionals, upon starting at their company, did not find out what performance metrics they would be evaluated by. And 16% still don’t know. 


Inducing Anxiety

So performance at work is traditionally judged by outdated standards, which are evaluated at infrequent intervals with vague expectations. Sounds terrifying, right? Indeed.

Stress in and surrounding the workplace is already an epidemic, exacerbating health issues, absenteeism, and extremely costly employee turnover. Reflektive reports that 54% of employees feel anxious or stressed during their performance review period. Such a spike in anxiety can really affect not just one’s personal life, but how productive they can be. In fact, since the restructuring of their performance management program, IBM has seen a 20% increase in employee engagement

The reality of an entire quarter, or even an entire year’s performance being reviewed in one meeting puts an incredible amount of pressure on the employee in question and is likely not a fair assessment of their performance overall. Not to mention the stress it puts on the manager to collect and maintain all the relevant information.


A Better Assessment

If the way we work has changed, the way we evaluate work should too. Fortunately, just as methods of collaboration have transformed with technology, so have the methods of measuring productivity.

Now, multiple metrics can be tracked in a single application, like Prodoscore. Prodoscore measures every activity including e-mails, Google Workspace Business applications, CRM, and more. It tracks these activities across your entire team, generating a Productivity Score™ for each individual based on what they accomplished.

Everything is in real time, so you’re not tracking down records when you want to give feedback. Machine learning technology even suggests insights for each user to boost productivity and improve their score, making the evaluation process streamlined so that you can coach on your terms.

Your business is in the 21st century, and it’s time you used 21st century resources to measure your progress. Give employees clear goals and clear feedback with help from Prodoscore.

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