“The next two weeks are going to be a nightmare!”
“I need to start getting some feedback on the projects I completed at the start of the year!”
“My mentor never replies to my emails - how am I going to be ready for the review?”
If you have uttered one of the above phrases at some point in your career, don’t worry you are not alone. In a recent Adobe Survey, it was found that a staggering four out of ten employees would switch jobs to a company that didn’t have a formal performance review process even if the pay and job level were the same.
Often conducted annually, employee performance reviews generally have a negative stigma attached to them (specifically at large organisations). Traditional review processes have been described as time-consuming, cumbersome, demotivating and painful.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all solution but there are several underlying principles that every organisation should follow.
Are you actually helping your employees constantly grow and improve?
It is common to fall into the trap of following a process and neglecting the underlying reason for that process existing. Employee performance reviews should exist to develop the career of employees and this should not be just a box ticking exercise.
Employees benefit from ongoing feedback throughout the year, allowing them to learn, adapt and grow as professionals. Ongoing coaching ensures employees are provided with actionable improvements that can be implemented during a current or forthcoming piece of work. Awareness is the first step to change and without ongoing feedback, there can be only limited change. Statistics also support more regular feedback with a PwC study finding that 60% of their respondents preferred feedback on a daily or weekly basis. This percentage increased to 72% when looking at employees aged under 30.
“If you want to win in the 21st century, you have to…empower others, making sure other people are better than you are. Then you will be successful.” Jack Ma, Ali Baba Founder
Employees are often told that they need to take control of their own career and shouldn’t rely on their mentor. Although employees do need to drive their careers, employee development is a two way street. A mentor has significant influence over the career progression of an employee and great mentors will ultimately help develop great employees.
Organisations need to ensure they select the most suitable people as mentors. Do not select a manager to mentor an employee just because they have been at the organisation a ‘long time’. Not everyone is cut out to develop and coach others, and that is fine. Select the people in the organisation that have the skills and the mindset to successfully develop the next generation of leaders.
The Adobe survey found that 60% of managers consider the review process as outdated and that the time they spend preparing for them negatively impacts their work. To put this into perspective, an organisation with 500 employees dedicates upwards of $200,000 to an annual review on time alone. Prior to implementing their new review process, Accenture reported that they spent a staggering two million hours a year on performance reviews.
Arguably, one of the most painful parts of a review is the time spent preparing for it. Reviews are often matched with online submission of key performance documents. As an employee, you don’t want to spend more time submitting your review documents than the time spent actually putting them together. This creates additional frustration in what may already be a cumbersome process.
Adobe has revamped their performance review process. Adobe implemented a “check in” process where they replaced annual reviews with ongoing conversations between managers and employees. The ongoing process of feedback and dialogue has no formal written review or documentation. Adobe estimates that it saved 80,000 manager hours (previously spent on the formal review process) in the first year of the initiative.
Sometimes simplicity is key with any internal process. By developing a review process that adds value to the career of your employees, your organisation is more likely to retain and attract talented people. Disrupt your employee performance review process before it’s too late.
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.