Employee performance reviews and management is one part of the job that many of us don’t look forward to.
But, performance reviews are an invaluable contributor to satisfaction and the employee experience for both supervisors and employees.
Though that annual review can feel uncomfortable, companies need an engaging way to justify raises and promotions. At the same time, employees need a platform where their successes are highlighted and they can voice their goals and concerns.
Can employers make the performance evaluation process more pleasant, practical, and in line with today’s changing workforce? We’ll take a look at the concept of digital continuous performance management, and find out how our template and regular evaluation can boost productivity and employee engagement.
The Importance and Purpose of Performance Evaluation and Employee Performance Reviews
Most employees and supervisors have been through the traditional performance review process. Neither side particularly enjoys it – they can be confrontational, uncomfortable, and often unproductive.
As they are usually performed on a yearly basis, often without any true follow-ups, performance reviews can feel like a big task that doesn’t add value to the business or employees’ career development.
But, performance reviews are meant to serve an invaluable purpose. They’re meant as fair treatment towards the employees and staff members, both for their evolution within the company, and making well-founded decisions regarding promotion, demotion, or dismissal.
Faced with an evolving professional landscape, including changes in demographics, a shift toward agile business practices, and – most pressing – rapid workplace digitalization, HR teams are seeking alternatives to get the most value out of performance evaluations.
Why performance appraisals are still important (even if you don’t love them)
Whether they’re done in-person or across the country remotely, performance reviews are well worth any discomfort or anxiety the parties involved feel before, after, and during.
They’re one of the best ways to inform decisions and boost engagement. Performance reviews are important because they:
- Identify opportunities for additional/needed training
- Justify compensation changes and promotions
- Let employees know they’re doing a great job
- Find areas to improve to help employees feel more satisfied
- Give leadership and HR a log of reviews to compare and look back on for data
And, most importantly, performance management activities are another tool that brings in genuine feedback from teams.
Define the goal for your employee performance reviews
Before you launch a digital performance review form or sit down to speak with the employee being reviewed, there should be a clear purpose and intent behind the review.
This could be anything like skills development, identifying opportunities to better employee engagement, or just using reviews as a way to log and track growth and progress. Some rely on them mainly as a channel for employees to log feedback, and hold them biweekly or even weekly.
Additionally, it’s important to hold different ‘types’ of reviews separately. Is one meeting concerning compensation? Try to restrict that to its own meeting, and schedule a different session or activity to appraise the opportunity for career/personal development.
Modernizing Employee Evaluations
Industries that champion tech have led the way to modern performance management.
Frequent performance reviews are quickly becoming the norm. Supervisors can give meaningful, real-time feedback to their employees, thanks to reviews taking place not just once a year. And for employees, the added value is clear: Knowing what you’re doing well, where you need to improve, as well as being given a platform to share your concerns is undeniably positive for career development and job satisfaction.
Here are some tips start in on first to modernize your performance management:
Tip #1: Consider increasing the frequency of evaluations
With the pacing of how we work changing every day and the expectations of the workforce shifting along with this, it makes sense to adjust performance management to keep up.
Employees want (and need) regular feedback more than ever, according to this report, and by ramping up the frequency of one-to-one evaluations organizations can address this need.
Swapping out annual or infrequent reviews fits into what the digital workforce of 2022 needs and the lifestyle they’re living, and cuts out much of the anxiety and stress teams feel during the weeks leading up to the yearly performance evaluation.
Tip #2: Implement Continuous Performance Appraisals
When performance reviews and meetings are a regular part of life at work, many aspects of the organization and employee experience will benefit.
Weekly to monthly check-ins provide a consistent feedback loop between employees and their supervisors. Workers routinely perform self-evaluations, highlighting their performance, and raising any potential concerns.
On a continuous basis, this transparent communication ensures employees are being heard, and that management is aware of issues before they escalate.
Feedback can be easily and systematically obtained from employees and tracked in a database. Quick and straightforward weekly feedback surveys can offer managers direct and current insight.
This continuous and real-time data is invaluable for business leaders looking to understand the state of their workforce, both from a performance and employee engagement perspective.
Profound formal reviews
Continuous performance appraisals stay on top of a worker’s progress throughout the year. Supervisors have a greater understanding of their employee’s workload, strengths, weaknesses, and development.
When it comes time for a more in-depth quarterly, semi-annual or yearly review, both parties have a much richer starting point for discussions. Details regarding training needs, potential reorientations, salary, and promotions are backed by systematic tracking throughout the year, making these types of formal reviews more of a summary than a high-pressure interview.
Goals and performance monitoring
Goal setting is one of the hallmarks of traditional, annual performance appraisals. But a downside is that many things can change over the course of a year. In a continuous appraisal environment, goals can be evaluated on a regular basis, and adapted, as needed.
This helps ensure that the goals are on track, or if resources are needed to support the employee. It could even help find obstacles or problems with the previously set goals, shifting the desired end result to be more productive for the employee and the business in general.
How to Use This Performance Review Template for Employee Performance Management Success
Whether you’re planning out this year’s performance management cycle or overhauling it all from scratch, our template and best practices guide will help you get off to a great start.
Like we’ve mentioned above, performance reviews don’t have to be an uncomfortable experience for the interviewee (or the one overseeing the process, either), and they definitely don’t have to impede the employee experience and engagement by making teams anxious or worried.
Follow our template, and use these best practices to guide your employee performance management to new heights of success and boost your workforce’s professional development.
Performance management best practices
While having the right template can make a world of difference, it’s also key to know the why of each step and understand the best practices driving great employee performance reviews.
You need to know the employee’s history with the organization to date, who their team is, their successes, and more.
Essentially, when conducting a performance review, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with their files, have every form or piece of training loaded into a workflow to follow up with and see their previous reviews.
Be honest and listen to your employee
The reports are in: Employees want more feedback than ever before. If organizations prioritize honesty in their comments and discussion during the performance management process, they’ll be rewarded with equally transparent feedback.
Listening to whatever comments employees give during reviews is key, too. Don’t dismiss their ideas, and work with them to realize any plans or goals they lay down in their performance evaluation.
Lead with the positive when providing comments
Where it’s possible, try to keep the pros at the top and the cons at the bottom of the performance review. Evaluations shouldn’t be overwhelmingly negative or positive, but instead blend together constructive criticism and acknowledgement of successes to keep the experience engaging and honest.
Be aware of limits, for both the employee and the organization
Don’t sign off a digital performance review form by tasking employees to completely change their game over the course of just two weeks – and don’t leave everything up to the rest of the organization, either.
Stay realistic with any planning that follows an employee evaluation form You need to know what is achievable, and what resources you can lean on to accomplish things.
Set achievable goals
Again, map out plans for employees that are achievable.
There aren’t many things more discouraging or disengaging than failing at a project you’ve been assigned, so make sure that any goals that are set following performance evaluations are realistic.
Next steps, follow-up and use feedback
After a cycle of performance reviews is completed, all of the feedback that’s accumulated needs to be tracked. When reviews are digital with forms, this is easier than ever, thankfully.
Check in with employees about the goals that were set or discussed, and schedule or assign the next review so everyone is prepared. Pay attention to the feedback they provided, and act on any opportunities for coaching or training that they identified.
It’s important to not simply complete a review and leave it until the next evaluation. Performance reviews can’t be an isolated activity – they need to tie into a bigger process that becomes part of the employees’ experience.
Other Types of Performance Reviews and Employee Evaluations
There are various approaches to performance management, and organizations tend to have different evaluation templates for specific situations.
Having a toolbox full of options is never a bad thing for employee performance reviews. Here’s a highlight reel of some of the more popular types of evaluations your organization can put to work.
You may have heard of 30-60-90 day plans. 30-60-90 employee performance reviews are similar and are an excellent tool to assist new hires in their first three months at the organization and track how they’re feeling.
Reviews take place three times: at the 30 days mark, then 30 days later, and 30 days later again.
Managers can steer their newly-onboarded team members through their first 90 days, and ensure that they understand their duties and have everything they need to succeed.
360-degree performance reviews
These reviews feature feedback being given to the employee from (typically anonymous) coworkers and different departments. Usually, this feedback would be pulled from surveys, other forms, or discussions.
The feedback gathered from 360-degree reviews can lead to some great discussions, and also give the employee in question an opportunity to elaborate on or explain the feedback they receive.
Other approaches to employee performance reviews
Past these, there are even more ways to conduct performance evaluations. From peer reviews to self-evaluations, there are options for every occasion.
Peer reviews see colleagues providing feedback on each other’s performance at work. They’re an excellent tool for holding team members accountable and shining a light on the great work they’ve been doing.
Forms are submitted anonymously, and the comments pulled from them can be used in 360-degree employee performance reviews, too.
Self-evaluations can be part of the standard performance review or be used as a standalone evaluation. For example, a regular review can be initiated by an employee filling out the form about themself and then submitting automatically to their direct report for review and more comments.
Introducing Digital Performance Reviews
Maintaining a regular continuous performance appraisal system may seem like a lot of added work for HR teams and managers. However, using a digital platform, like an employee app, makes employee appraisals easily accessible, straightforward, and hassle-free to ensure routine and timely reviews.
Digital platforms can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Not only is the data quickly and easily transmitted, but extensive employee data analysis can also be performed. In real-time, managers and HR can view comprehensive employee data across teams or the entire organization.
Digital performance appraisal integration in an employee app can be much more easily accessed, updated, and verified than traditional paper forms, spreadsheets, or email attachments. As soon as a self-appraisal is finished, the supervisor is notified. They can also see if documents are overdue, and can be directly contacted regarding questions or concerns.
An employee app can house a number of effective tools to offer organizations more meaningful performance appraisals:
- Templates for performance reviews, including flexible forms customized for each team or function
- Easy-to-assign due dates and automatic reminders
- Instant participation tracking with integrated follow-ups
- Quick data outputs to analyze results in real-time
- In-app digital training courses can be instantly recommended or assigned to employees to address performance issues or to prepare for job promotions
Make the Switch to Digital Performance Reviews With our Template
Not only does shifting performance appraisals to a digital platform make it easier to reach all employees, but it also takes a lot of the stress and hassle out of the frequently uncomfortable evaluation process.
Using a template, best practices guide, and an employee app powers a flexible and customizable evaluation management process.
The continuous feedback and routine check-ins add value to business operations and help employees manage their workloads, remain engaged, and ultimately ensure long-term employee satisfaction.