Think Check-Ins, Not Performance Reviews

By Laura Ransone, Director of Membership & Events, Women in Government Relations, AMG Associate

 Laura RansoneSay goodbye to formal annual performance evaluations and hello to more informal and regular check-ins. Why the move to more fluid feedback benefits not only managers and employees but also associations.

Have you heard? Annual performance reviews are dead.

But don’t fear! Their replacement comes as a breath of fresh air to all generations in the workforce—not just young professionals.

On September 4, 1998, Google was born and revolutionized the way people access information and do business. Today’s young professionals grew up in an age where they could ask, “What does Google say?” and they could have an answer in seconds. So, it should come as no surprise that the expectation to obtain instant answers is applied to many aspects of life, including performance evaluations.

Organizations are already moving toward a more fluid form of feedback. Timeframes range from quarterly, monthly, weekly, or at-large project checkpoints. The stiff corporate title “performance appraisal” has gone by the wayside and been replaced with the modern term “check-in”.

Check-ins are quick and informal, providing employees the opportunity to constantly get feedback and grow. They provide managers the ability to serve as coaches instead of managers, building a deeper connection. I find weekly coaching to be both helpful when I’m being managed and when I’m managing. A quick check-in on the status of a membership recruitment project has redirected my efforts and saved me hours of unnecessary work. It has also allowed me to grow in my position at a faster rate and helped the organization as a whole.

Last year Harvard Business Review highlighted Deloitte’s efforts to adopt a check-in format, which involved asking team leaders to hold weekly check-ins with employees. The company found that if you want employees to do their best work “in the near future,” they need to know what that entails and if they are on the right path. Most importantly, Deloitte found “a direct and measurable correlation between the frequency of these conversations and the engagement of team members.”

In addition, the Society for Human Resource Management offered up some other options for organizations to modernize their performance-appraisal processes. SHRM’s guidelines advise employers to provide examples of positive and negative behaviors, focusing on strengths more than weaknesses, and centering on the things an employee can work to change. Many organizations are no longer using a rating system, which has proven to be rigid and inaccurate depending on who is filling it out.

Associations are fast-moving vehicles. We don’t have time to slam on the breaks midway through the race to check all the systems in a lengthy review. Quick check-ins are important to make sure projects are on the right track and employees on pace. And while you may think you don’t have time to constantly check-in with employees, in the long run, this new process will be more productive and will take less time. After all, most managers meet with their staff at least once a week to cover updates on projects and tasks.

By incorporating check-ins into these meetings and giving feedback in emails when projects and tasks are completed, you can provide your employees with micro-corrections and the ability to grow at a faster and more efficient pace. Employees on their toes means engagement. A few small changes in your workplace can shift the culture to productive and on-task, creating greater employee retention and overall happiness.

 

This blog post originally appeared on Associations Now October 4, 2016.