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Employees dread it and managers find it energy-draining: the infamous annual performance review. For better or worse, it has endured over the decades, though not without some improvements along the way. Today, we will explore its advantages and disadvantages, and then ask if there are new ways to approach it and what variations exist.

Annual Performance Reviews

 

We are all familiar with the annual performance review where the employee meets with their supervisor to discuss their performance and ultimately find out whether they will receive a salary increase, and if so, by how much.

 

For many companies, this so-called traditional model is no longer suitable. Why? Simply because these annual meetings do not allow for quick feedback, which is crucial for success in a fast-paced environment. Today's organizations must be agile and able to make quick adjustments.

 

Furthermore, Generation Z employees entering the workforce need frequent feedback to work effectively and progress. It's also worth noting that Millennials and Generation Z perform better in flat organizational structures and prefer regular interactions with their superiors in a collaborative spirit.

 

 

Advantages of This Evaluation Method

 

This evaluation method was long praised if it included clear objectives and measurable criteria. On paper, everything seemed perfect, and it was considered fair for everyone.

 

 

Disadvantages of This Evaluation Method

 

Who hasn't felt completely anxious as an employee, dreading this daunting evaluation with “the boss”? Is it easier to be the evaluator? Not at all. Most managers dread the moment they must assess their team members, especially when one shows signs of underperformance. This doesn't even account for the time needed to prepare the evaluation report.

 

For employees, aside from the stress associated with this meeting, they often find it demotivating. This is partly because references to areas for improvement are often too far in the past, and partly because some of their general skills (e.g., adaptability, team spirit, communication, etc.) are not considered at all.

 

 

New Approaches

 

Although traditional performance evaluation methods are not universally agreed upon, should we throw them out entirely and abandon formal evaluations? Certainly not. Companies that have tried this have noticed a 10% drop in employee performance and had more difficulty evaluating employees without a clear framework.

 

What, then, are the best ways to evaluate employees while considering all their skills, making the process more pleasant and less stressful (for both employers and employees), and obtaining more meaningful results than a simple score or form in a file?

 

 

What to Expect from a Good Performance Evaluation

 

  • Identification of employee difficulties, not to reprimand, but to help find solutions based on the issues the individual faces, whether personal, technical, related to professional adaptation, or simply because they need a role change to feel more stimulated.
  • Recognition of surpassed expectations, whether related to soft skills (e.g., caring for new hires) or organizational contributions (e.g., creating a tool to save time).

 

 

Variations in Performance Evaluations

 

How can we, in our constantly changing companies, make performance management a positive step in an employee's career? By encouraging continued investment in the company and providing a source of satisfaction for the manager, who gains a better understanding of their team members and their strengths through this process.

 

 

Frequency of Meetings

 

Both literature and field experience show that more frequent meetings are beneficial for both employees and employers. What is the ideal frequency? There is no single answer. Depending on the nature of the job, meetings may need to be held monthly or quarterly. For new employees, weekly meetings are recommended to ensure successful integration within the first few months. The same applies to underperforming employees, whose performance levels need close monitoring.

 

 

Feedback

 

Since Generation Y and Z employees need feedback, it is suggested to include this practice if possible, using a user-friendly platform and clear guidelines. As we know, feedback can tend to eat away at supervisors’ time.

 

The advantage of frequent meetings is that shortcomings are quickly identified and corrected. Similarly, achievements are more easily shared and celebrated. Recognition is one of the greatest sources of motivation for workers, so let's not forget it!

 

 

Recognizing Each Individual's Strengths

 

Finally, more frequent meetings and feedback allow managers to better understand their team members. Some team members may be more reserved and harder to read. When meetings are closer together, they are more likely to remain natural. You might discover unexpected creativity or a sense of humour!

 

Some leaders seem to have a sixth sense for discerning an employee's strengths. These strengths are their natural ability to perform certain tasks, and sometimes, these employees are unaware of their own talents.

 

 

In conclusion, new methods require flexibility and adaptation of companies and managers, but in the end, everyone benefits. Managers need agility and the ability to maintain open communication that fosters constructive feedback. Many are already working on these skills as they are useful in many of their responsibilities. Subsequently, they need to recognize and reward their top performers, which they already have the skills to do!

 

At Bedard Human Resources, we can help you implement or modify your performance management process. Contact Stéphane Pépin for more information about our HR consulting services.

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