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Performance Reviews Are Not Dead. They’re a Weapon of Mass Engagement


Sustained global economic growth, low employment rates and critical shortages in technology skills have increased pressure on companies to seek competitive advantage in the war for talent. HR leaders in the world’s most progressive companies are harnessing employee experience as a key differentiator and many are using performance conversations as an innovative tool to build a deeper connection and level of engagement with employees, boosting productivity and longevity.

Here are five ways to use performance reviews as a means of increasing engagement.

1. Rebrand the Performance Review

Performance discussions are much more real-time, constructive and focused on the person holistically than the old-fashioned performance ratings.  As they are now a frequent, mutual exchange of thoughts, feedback and ideas, the Performance Review needs a rebrand to reflect its more contemporary and meaningful nature.

“These discussions should be about ensuring that great people continue to be engaged and give their best”, says Tim Rayner, Senior Director at ChapmanCG in the UK.  “Based on our many conversations with HR leaders, it would definitely help if the process was re-named as something more two-way and appealing such as a ‘Individual Development Plan’ or ‘Coaching and Career Chat”.

2. Build a Trusting and Respectful Relationship

Business leaders are realising they must create an employee centric culture based on trust and respect.  This means understanding individual drivers, strengths, interests, purpose, wellbeing and lifestyle design aspirations. What were formally performance ratings and reviews of historical work, are now crucial human-to-human conversations that enable a manager to coach, develop, challenge and facilitate employee experience and wellbeing on a whole new level.

Once that trust and respect is established, it can be leveraged so that the individual, team and company can reach new heights.

Companies like Apple, Google and Netflix are 40% more productive than the average company simply by using different performance strategies that focus on trust building and different processes and organisational structure and trust building, says Fast Company.

“It took 600 Apple engineers fewer than two years to develop, debug, and deploy iOS 10,” Bain’s Michael Mankins told Fast Company. “Contrast that with 10,000 engineers at Microsoft that took more than five years to develop, debut, and ultimately retract Vista. The difference is in the way these companies chose to construct their teams.”

3. Deliver a World-Class Employee Experience

Facebook, Google, Apple, LinkedIn, Airbnb and Accenture are some of the top rated “experiential organisations” globally, according to author and futurist, Jacob Morgan.

Employee experience consists of culture, technology and physical space.  It is the human experience including the thoughts, feelings, emotions, decisions and overall qualitative experience that a person has while working at a company. It’s how someone feels, the quality of their relationships and communications and the level of performance that they are supported in achieving.  Progressive companies understand that meaningful talent development is a long-term commitment. Understanding an individual’s motivators in the context of the holistic employee experience and tailoring their development is a positive way to use performance discussions.

Using storytelling and narrative to articulate the person’s potential and the projects they will be involved in, helps them visualise their place and their future ‘story’ within the company.  Performance reviews are the ideal forum in which to do this and therefore should take into account and reinforce the purpose and the projected journey of employees.  Well planned performance reviews can make or break the employee experience, and employee engagement.

4. Think Up Creative Growth and Development Opportunities
(Millennials Love This)

87% of Millennial’s cite professional development and opportunities for career progression as the most important factors in a job, according to Gallup. Only 19 percent of Millennials say they receive routine feedback from managers and only 17 percent say the feedback they receive is meaningful. A lack frequent feedback could be causing Millennials to feel unfulfilled in their jobs thereby impacting engagement.

Companies need to respond by being on the pulse in terms of understanding individual’s needs and providing development opportunities in a non-traditional way.  Additional projects, inclusion in an innovation group, access to Apps and online learning, YouTube, Podcasts or gamification are popular methods of developing Millennials.  

5. Build People Analytics and Design Individualised Employee Support

People analytics and data are indispensable tools used to inform talent strategy.  Performance conversations are a highly effective means of collecting better data on employee strengths, development areas, interests, motivators, ideas, concerns, creativity, wellbeing and feedback. Analysing individual capabilities enables companies to move to job crafting and assigning and rotating people in an optimal way. Software and apps such as 15five, Reviewsnap and Trakstar enable performance reviews to be completed online and data to be analysed.

In Summary

By using the performance review, newly branded in alignment with your company’s internal language, as a lever for employee engagement and experience, companies will build more authentic and trusting relationships with employees.  This will ultimately have a positive impact on employee engagement and consequently company culture and success.

Return to our Global HR Update here.

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Key Contributors:

Tim Rayner
Tim Rayner

Managing Director

Consulting Team
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Tim Rayner
Consulting Team

Tim Rayner

Managing Director

Tim is a Managing Director with ChapmanCG, based in Spain. He conducts local, regional, and global HR searches for ChapmanCG’s European client base. Tim is originally from the UK and his roles have spanned the UK, continental and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Australia.

Throughout his 20-year executive search career, Tim has been deeply involved in recruitment, talent management and consulting within HR. His extensive broad business exposure has helped him build a strong knowledge base across a variety of professional disciplines and sectors on a local, regional, and global basis. Prior to joining ChapmanCG, he was General Manager for Hudson in Australia.

Tim has a BA (Hons) in Business and Tourism Management from the De Montfort University in the United Kingdom and is currently learning Spanish. He also has significant experience as a lifeguard for Surf Life Saving Australia.