Below is a guest blog entry written by Darnell George.

The effectiveness of traditional performance management techniques has become a hotly debated topic in recent years, and experts' opinions on the best evaluation techniques have never been more varied than they are now. As the modern workplace has evolved, the old once-a-year performance review has become viewed by many as ineffective and outdated. In its place are new evaluation methods, often coupled with technology.

Still, many companies – particularly, large employers – use annual reviews as a way to evaluate employee performance and set goals for the coming year. Trendy start-ups and smaller companies may eschew formal review programs altogether.

Neither method has proven particularly effective. As Dave Johnson writes for CBS Money Watch,

“I’ve yet to see a solution that really works for employers – one in which both employees and managers feel confident that good performance is rewarded and promotions aren’t awarded arbitrarily.” 
To create effective assessment programs, business owners and managers must find ways to modernize their performance management techniques. Here are five tips to help make your employee review process a success:

 Go Into the Cloud

Many companies are turning to performance management tools such as Cornerstone OnDemand learning management system software to provide constant evaluation. This tool is a cloud-based system that resembles a social media site. Each employee has a profile, and performance goals are clearly stated in the application. Feedback is provided to employees and managers on a regular basis.

Feedback between an employee and manager can be private, or responses can be shared throughout the network. This performance management plan is often used in conjunction with a more formal annual review.

Clearly Define Expectations

One of the issues with annual assessments is that employees are evaluated on relatively vague points about their performance. As a result, employees earning positive reviews don’t know what they’ve done right, and those that receive negative feedback aren’t clear on where they’re falling short. Sarah Fister Gale, writing for, explains that defining key competencies and behaviors for each employee is crucial, so they understand exactly what is expected.

“These competencies should include the five or six qualities that define success for every member of the organization, as well as job-specific skills and responsibilities for each individual,” says Gale. “This process should occur as soon as a person is hired, and should be revisited annually.”

Set a Concrete Schedule for Evaluations

Though traditional performance management methods are quickly becoming antiquated, annual reviews are still a practical choice, due to time restraints. No matter how often you plan to schedule formal reviews, set deadlines for managers to meet with their employees. This deadline is often recommended to coincide with the updating of the company’s annual business plan.

To make the most of formal meetings, more informal measures should be taken throughout the year. This can mean quick emails or conversations about a project well-done (or poorly implemented).

 Be Honest

Managers have a responsibility to review employees honestly. This means ensuring that top performers know their current methods are effective. Conversely, employees that are under-performing need to understand what could be improved.

 Use What You’ve Learned

The evaluation shouldn't end with the manager. Assessments can be a valuable tool in planning future business goals. Additionally, written performance reviews should be shared with the company's Human Resources department, as the information is invaluable to their process.

Darnell grew up in New York and has an appreciation for gourmet cuisine. He loves writing almost as much as he loves eating.
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