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Proliant By Proliant • May 12, 2017

Goodbye to the annual performance review. Say hello to the "virtual thumbs up"

Do you dread annual performance evaluations? You’re not alone. Most people agree with you.  And more and more companies are moving away from them in favor of regular and timely discussions between workers and their managers about how things are going.

Generational differences are driving this change. Today’s younger workers increasingly expect ongoing feedback. They don’t like surprises and they don’t like having to wait to find out how they’re doing. They want to know now: How am I doing? What are my weaknesses? Is there anything I could be doing better?

It’s becoming generally acknowledged that the traditional one-hour annual performance evaluation cannot possibly adequately satisfy these expectations.   

Whether it’s a chat with an employee as you stop by their desk, a pat on the back, or a formal raise request, performance recognition should be a daily part of work life.

Some advocate for frequent "check-ins," during which managers provide coaching and advice. These check-ins are designed to communicate what is expected of staff and to allow managers to give and receive feedback, assist employees with performance enhancement, and to guide them in their growth and development.

While in theory this sounds great, others argue that the burden of this can be onerous.  According to the WSJ, there is a downside to the “Never ending performance review.”  

“Welcome to the era of the never-ending performance review. Companies say they are staying current with young workers accustomed to instant gratification in the form of Facebook likes and Yelp ratings. Managers and employees say it’s tough learning to give—and receive—constant critiques and praise.”

In other words, information overload.  For both manager and employee.  Not only is it time-consuming to come up with constructive criticism or advice on a nearly constant basis, it’s tough to process it as an employee. Both parties may spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing what they did right or wrong, instead of just performing their jobs.

Here’s a better idea that strikes a balance between too much and too little --- bite-sized feedback and lots of it.

Consider a simple employee Coaching application as part of a company’s HR suite.  Managers can issue a simple thumbs-up or down on individual tasks or projects.  It only takes a few seconds and can be delivered and received on a mobile device.   Managers can add a few sentences of explanation if they wish, but mostly it’s just a pat on the back or a gentle suggestion on opportunities for improvement.   Everything is retained for easy reference for a more in-depth performance review down the road.  Simple and short and everybody wins.

Let us know what you think.  Thumbs up?