Ah, the annual performance review. It’s likely that leaders and the employees they manage both dread this experience, regardless of its perceived necessity. But a yearly review isn’t actually what’s necessary, it’s the chance to give and receive feedback. Employees have the opportunity to hear where they’re performing well – or where they need to improve – and, if the review is done right, they can give feedback to their managers.
Reviews are also a good place for goal-setting. Employees should know – and be able to recite – the organization’s goals, as well as their departmental goals. They should also have goals for themselves, both personal and professional. The neuroscience behind it tells us that goal-setting has been linked to positive outcomes such as increased performance, confidence, and autonomy.
For your employees, hearing a manager’s opinion on their performance only once a year isn’t exactly helpful. If your organization doesn’t have a culture that prioritizes feedback, then your employee may carry on with a project for six months without knowing they are doing it incorrectly. Not only does this put their job at risk, but it also wastes your organization’s resources. Additionally, reviews tend to focus more on a person’s recent performance, not their overall performance for the entire year. So an employee could produce stellar work for eight months, then go through a personal challenge outside of work, causing them to fall behind for the remaining four months of the year. If this happens, the employee may only be judged on those four months, resulting in an unfair and incomplete performance evaluation.
However, it also doesn’t serve you to abolish reviews altogether. So what’s the answer? A quarterly performance review coupled with a culture of regular feedback.
Organizations that give more frequent feedback – whether in the form of a review or a more casual one-on-one conversation – are known to have higher rates of employee engagement. According to Gallup, employees who receive daily feedback are three times more likely to be and remain engaged. While engagement isn’t a complete measure of the health of your culture, it does help paint a picture.
The Quarterly Performance Review
At Culture Partners, each employee participates in a Quarterly Performance Review (QPR). While we also value regular exchanges of feedback, with our QPR model, we know for certain each employee is receiving some form of feedback at least four times per year.
The QPR contains several key components:
- The employee’s understanding of the organization’s Cultural Beliefs, Key Results, and departmental goals
- This helps managers gauge the employee’s level of buy-in and understanding of the organization’s purpose.
- A list of the employee’s personal (dependent on their level of comfort) and professional goals for the year
- Setting lofty goals has been known to increase the likelihood of achievement.
- A recap of their previous goals and accomplishments.
- This helps the manager and employee see where things stand.
- It’s also an opportunity to encourage the employee and recognize them for a job well done.
- Their goals for the upcoming quarter
- Goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
- A self-assessment of their strengths and opportunities for improvement
- Managers can get a sense of where there may be gaps between their perception of the employee and the employee’s own perception of their performance.
- The chance to assess their manager’s strengths and opportunities for improvement
- Employees should feel comfortable expressing their feelings in a respectful and professional manner.
The goal here isn’t to punish your employees or make them uncomfortable. Rather, the goal is to create trust, an open dialogue, and a sense of psychological safety among managers and those who report to them.
This review model does several things:
- It allows your people to show up as their authentic, honest selves.
- It focuses on goals and achievement rather than mistakes.
- It gives the employee an opportunity to share ideas and opinions about opportunities for improvement for both the manager and the organization as a whole.
A Culture of Feedback
When organizations prioritize feedback more frequently than once per year, they create an opportunity for employees to understand the organization’s purpose. As one of the main drivers of employee fulfillment, purpose – and your ability to help your employees connect with it – guides everything your organization does. Moving from an annual review to a quarterly review not only increases the number of opportunities for feedback exchanges. Employees who receive regular feedback are happier in their roles, which only serves to increase your organization’s overall performance.
If you’d like to incorporate this review methodology into your organization, download our Quarterly Performance Review template.Download