Year-round Employee Evaluations in the Age of Feedback Culture

Amanda Luzzader

Year-round Employee Evaluations in the Age of Feedback Culture

In 2016, General Electric stunned the business world by announcing the elimination of its infamously rigorous annual performance evaluations for its more than 300,000 employees. It had been discovered that the annual evaluations were simply too time-consuming, inefficient, and stressful, and G.E. quickly moved to a new arrangement in which feedback about employee performance would be exchanged year-round, in real-time.

Many large firms in the United States had preceded G.E. in doing this, and many large firms followed suit. This was the rise of a new attitude toward evaluating, monitoring, and data collection by companies and organizations across the country and throughout the world.

This new movement is commonly known as “feedback culture.”

As we’ve discussed several times before in this space, feedback culture is centered around the ideal of always keeping a finger on a company or organization’s pulse, whether that means employee performance, customer satisfaction, or project success. In other words, collect continuous data and then continuously use it to incorporate improvements, course changes, and new ways to be successful.

So, what do year-round, real-time employee performance evaluations look like? They’re probably simpler than you might think. Here is a collection of suggestions, tips, and strategies for employee evaluations in the world of feedback culture.

Make it Routine

One problem with annual or even semi-annual performance reviews is that they are blind-siding and stress-inducing. Although the annual performance review has been a venerated corporate institution since the mid-1900s, employees and managers alike generally despise them. According to an article by HR Brew, a management and business education company, 34% of a group of Millennials surveyed in 2017 reported crying during their annual performance reviews. In a survey of business managers, reported by the Harvard Business Review in 2016, nearly half of the managers polled (45%) said they did not see value in their annual employee evaluation systems.

HR Brew suggests that along with a change in the culture of data collection, the culture of evaluation and feedback must change. That is, frequent and candid exchanges about projects, performance, and goals must be expected and routine. In other words, an employee who is accustomed to receiving feedback or evaluation every week (even if it is critical) is much less likely to be frustrated, defeated, or defensive as opposed to an employee who receives an entire year’s worth in a single afternoon.

Acquire Tools

First, you’ll need tools and procedures for collecting, dispersing, and exchanging employee performance data. Pulse For Good’s kiosk system gives you both the hardware and software you’ll need to easily manage this. Our tools can be customized to make a system of year-round employee evaluation easy to set up, use, and modify going forward.

Collect Data Frequently

In an article by Rainmaker Thinking, a management research, training, and consulting firm, one suggestion is that managers regularly meet with employees to review work and request accountability for in-progress work. These interactions needn’t be complex nor lengthy. Most companies have some form of staff or team meetings (weekly or monthly?). Such reviews and accounting could take place at these meetings. The use of a data-collection tool could then be used to record each check-in, and both quantitative data (a goal-setting rating from 1-5, for example) and qualitative data (“Brenda seems stressed about her progress–follow up with guidance”) could then be established. This would result in a rich showing of a continuous data stream of each employee’s progress and performance and would provide data to analyze for future employees and managers.

Check-in Informally

However, even informal conversations between managers and workers can have untold positive impacts on employee performance, especially if they are frequent and expected. Human resource data suggests that far from avoiding or disliking manager feedback and evaluation, most employees want more. In an article by TechRepublic, senior vice president for human relations at CompTIA Colleen Hughes is quoted as saying that frequent conducting frequent check-ins “helps the employee as far as validating, ‘I’m doing well. I’m on track. I’m contributing.’ All the things that we as human beings need to hear,”

Technology by itself doesn’t completely solve this problem. The fear that email will be tracked and IP addresses recorded can keep people inside of the vulnerability gap.

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