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People Management | 5 min

How to make performance reviews proactive

How to make performance reviews proactive

When it comes to traditional performance reviews, most of us do not exactly look forward to them. Whether you’re on the employee side, the manager side or the HR side, performance review time usually isn’t the most exciting period on the work calendar. It takes a lot of work to prepare everything, only for all parties to often be left feeling like they’ve derived little value from the whole experience.

This animosity toward review periods usually comes down to three main problems with traditional performance reporting:

  1. It’s completed on an annual basis
  2. It requires a significant amount of administration to compile each report
  3. The findings are not actionable

When these three issues combine, we are left with a performance review process that is reactive, not proactive and therefore, provides very little value for everyone involved. In fact, conducting your review process this way may be slowing your organisation down, rather than invigorating it like intended.

Below we’ll explore how to make performance reviews proactive by addressing these three key issues.

1. Make the review process continuous

 

In another recent post of ours, 5 HR Process Mistakes, we looked at why completing performance reviews annually isn’t so productive.

In summary, it’s near impossible for most of us to remember what we did an entire year ago. Even if we did, what is the point of getting feedback on something you needed to improve 12 months ago when you could have been working on it the whole time had you known?

What’s more, most new employees form a decision on whether they want to stay or leave a company within their first 90 days, and one in five new employees leave before their probation period is up.[1] With figures like those it is easy to see why huge attrition problems can arise when reviews are not regular.

Rather than sitting down with staff once a year to see how they are going, start a continuous feedback process. Ideally, managers should be having a one on one catch up with each of their direct reports at least once a month. It only needs to be a 10 or 15 minute conversation, but it’s a vital opportunity to intervene on potential problems, ensure your people have all the tools they need to do their job and provide recognition.

 

2. Never compile a manual review again

So a continuous process sounds great in theory, but how is it feasible when everyone is already time poor? Well, the truth is it doesn’t need to take additional time. In fact, it doesn’t need to take any time at all.

When you use intelliHR, everyone in the organisation is entering valuable information into the system every day. Managers are entering diary notes and sending out monthly feedback, HR is recording promotions, employees are tracking their goals, recording training and completing their check-in forms, and so on.

Now all of the key information that has historically been collated into performance reviews once a year is already being captured for you. Most importantly, it’s effortless to bring all this information together. “Performance Summary” reports can be generated for any staff member at any time, for any period, and they will always include all of the key information you want to include.

Do we really need to convince you to stop preparing reviews manually? Not really. Let’s move on.

 

3. Make performance reports valuable

Simply put, performance summary reports are only valuable if they provide information that is actionable. They must provide direction on where to make improvements moving forward.

Increasing the frequency and taking the manual effort out of the whole process already goes a long way toward achieving this. The final step is how does the performance report summary contribute to a positive review outcome.

First, consider what information both employees and managers will require in order to make positive improvements.

You will most likely be looking for the following items at a minimum:

  • Skills gaps
  • Goal progress
  • Training records
  • Diary notes
  • Performance management
  • Employee and manager feedback

Skills gaps are one of the most crucial elements to detect early on. If you’re asking employees about their training needs in their regular check-ins, this feedback will be included in the performance summary report. Further skills gaps can also be identified by looking at training undertaken by the individual compared to the rest of their team members. From here, managers are able to compare these insights against team and company-wide strategic goals, working with individuals to decide on a training plan to fill these skills gaps.

You will also want to look at goal progress and performance management entries as measures of performance and progress. These are both important points for discussion if you detect areas for development or positive reinforcement are in order.

Diary notes left by managers are also worth considering to determine patterns in behaviour. Diary notes can also be used to share notes of recognition with a staff member so these should also be included.

All of this information is valuable because it can be acted on. From here, each individual’s performance summary report can be discussed between them and their manager, a conversation which should focus around how to proactively move a role forward in line with the company’s strategic objectives – looking forward is much more important than spending too much time reflecting on the past.

In conclusion, if you can action the tips above you will easily transform your existing performance review process into a proactive, value-adding exercise.

Questions about any of these tips? Get in touch.

 

SOURCES

[1] People Management (2017). One in five employees have left a job during their probation period. https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/employees-leaving-job-during-probation

 

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