3 Reasons to Rework Performance Reviews

A blue and yellow tape measure on a green background.

Your employees and managers shouldn’t dread your annual performance review cycle. Reviews once or twice a year are the perfect opportunity for employees to build relationships with their managers while advancing their careers. They encourage employees to learn and grow, which is why it’s key to incorporate measurable learning objectives in reviews.

Ineffective performance reviews are rarely the sole cause of poor employee engagement. However, negative attitudes toward reviews can sink what is intended to be a constructive conversation to advance employee and business performance. Here are a few reasons it may be time to innovate your performance review process.

1. Real-time feedback matters

According to Wakefield Research, 94% of employees want their managers to provide guidance and discuss opportunities for growth in real time. Despite employees’ desire to receive agile feedback, nearly 70% of companies still limit themselves to annual or semiannual reviews.

Such was the case at Adobe, which dramatically shifted its approach to performance reviews after realizing the annual cycle wasn’t moving fast enough, according to Engagedly. Its new “check-in” process encourages regular dialogue between employees and managers and doesn’t rank employees. Perhaps most importantly, Adobe doubled down by establishing an employee resource center to prioritize year-round learning. Employees now have real-time, transparent performance data and access to subject matter experts on demand.

Your organization’s model doesn’t have to match Adobe’s, but data from your LMS can enable employees to engage with their progress toward goals in real-time by showing milestones of coursework completion, accomplishments or test scores as they’re completed.

2. Correction shouldn’t overshadow reward

Corrective feedback in the workplace gets a negative rap among employees and managers. It’s not an issue of thin skin; in some cases, the problem is that negative feedback stands out against too little reward and recognition. Only one-third of employees felt recognized the last time they went above and beyond at work, according to the TINYpulse study. Corrective feedback must be balanced with recognition to create a culture of continuous improvement.

Organizations like Netflix have moved toward a culture of “radical transparency” to ensure the value of constructive feedback isn’t lost, according to Harvard Business Review. Clear feedback, as long as it’s delivered objectively, is better received and produces more constructive results. Consider showing your employees which steps to follow or highlighting factual knowledge based on guidance in the LMS. Corrective feedback can be a useful tool to align employee goals with corporate objectives.

3. Learning data fights biases

Humans are inherently biased. It’s only natural that these biases creep into traditional systems of performance review. Buffer, a social media management software company, decided to address these biases head-on to ensure workplace equity, according to Fast Company. The organization worked to help managers “separate personality from skill set” by ensuring employees are always provided with clear goals and objectives and establishing company-wide systems of performance review.

The first step toward tackling bias is to establish more objective systems of performance measurement that empower bias-free reviews. Learning and development system data can provide objective measurements of employee progress toward learning goals and engagement with personal development. Data on courses completed or user-generated content submissions can provide specific performance examples during reviews.

Turning reviews into productivity

Performance reviews are critical, but it’s time to think beyond semi-annual reviews to understand employee development. An LMS can act as a central repository for employee goals and objectives, and provide bias-free insights into employee progress throughout the review cycle—and the whole year. Transparent learning data can help employees and managers stop dreading reviews, and start meaningful conversations.