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Ditch the Performance Review?!?

Do you have a way of setting and measuring employee goals? Is it working well for you and your business? Good investment in time? Increasing morale? Achieving business results?

No, no, no?

It is a rare person who enjoys giving or receiving a performance appraisal. All too often, I hear – and have experienced myself – fear and horror stories around performance reviews. Just yesterday, I facilitated a workshop for managers to introduce their new performance management system, and you should have heard the awful past experiences they listed off, such as 5-minute meetings or in some cases, no feedback or meetings, managers unprepared, arguments over what had been achieved, crying over surprise feedback and low ratings, long and complicated forms that were difficult to understand.

The days of the long and complicated rating-focused annual performance review need to be put behind us. They provide a poor return on effort, and research shows they are disengaging good people, decreasing morale and lowering productivity. Instead you need a framework ensuring more regular conversations happen that are future focused.


What’s the new and best way?

I have worked with a number of clients recently to implement and reinvent their performance review systems. The new approach includes:

  • Simplifying documentation
  • Increasing frequency and quality of conversations
  • Eliminating ratings
  • Strength and values-based approach
  • Rebranding the performance review system
  • Focusing on strong goal setting
  • Separating performance discussions from pay conversations (but still performance-based pay)
  • Training managers on the new system and how to have better performance discussions

Why do it?

It’s about creating a culture of purpose, feedback and development. Our clients and many great companies (eg Accenture, Microsoft and Morgan Stanley) have followed the above approach and are realising significant benefits such as:

  1. Increased employee engagement
  2. Saved time from revamping inefficient processes
  3. An increase in quality and frequency of conversations

Growth-focused conversations

When you take a growth mindset approach to the conversations in the way you talk and provide feedback to your people, it looks like this:

  • We can get better at most things.
  • We can change.
  • Effort is central to change and improvement.
  • Feedback is helpful.
  • Stretch goals are good.
  • Other people’s success inspires us.

This is a great deal better than a fixed mindset approach of limited thinking, no capability to grow, not learning from others, and fear of stretch goals. You, your people, and your business will only prosper through a growth mindset approach to performance and development.

Top 5 Tips

My top 5 suggestions for revamping the way you review performance and development are:

  1. Set clear expectations from the beginning, which will give employees clarity about what they need to do.
  2. Feedback regularly, in the moment and based on strengths. Make it personal and authentic.
  3. Align individual goals to business goals and employees understand how they fit in to the bigger picture.
  4. Systemise a way to provide regular in the moment feedback, example short daily huddles, weekly 1 on 1, quarterly check-ins, allocated time at end of meetings, reflection time, project review meetings.
  5. Get training and coaching on how to better give feedback, set goals, and have quality conversations with their team.


Author:  Claire Harrison, Managing Director – Harrison Human Resources (Brisbane HR Consultants), Author – The CEO Secret Guide to Managing and Motivating Employees, 1300 001 447

This article was first published by HerBusiness.


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