Following the lead of powerhouse enterprises like Adobe and Accenture, many companies are abandoning formal performance management reviews and moving to a more informal model of measuring and managing employee performance. The move is based on the idea that ongoing, informal feedback is more likely to be timely and actionable for employees. Ongoing conversations also provide more natural opportunities for coaching and career development, which are closely linked to employee satisfaction and retention. In addition, since performance feedback is integrated into normal workflows, an informal process is thought to be less time-consuming for management than annual reviews, which are famous for generating significant administrative work.
The concept of abandoning performance reviews has been popular among employees, as the annual meetings are widely loathed. A recent study by IDG, however, has revealed that employees are somewhat ambivalent about how well the move is going.
Here are some things employees are thinking (but might not be sharing):
- It’s great in concept, but it’s not working very well yet.
Although most employees (87%) like the concept of informal performance management, many have some concerns about how it’s actually working in practice. More than a third (37%) say the process simply isn’t working. Perhaps more distressing, nearly half (43%) of employees think that informal performance management isn’t fair. Without employee confidence in the process, it’s going to be difficult to get their buy-in and full participation, which will certainly hinder efficacy over time.
- Managers are not doing a great job of carrying it out.
There’s a similar lack of confidence when it comes to the role that managers play in the informal performance management process. More than half (52%) of employees say that their manager is not a strong communicator or coach, and 66% say that managers need more training around coaching and feedback. Because the new model focuses so heavily on employee-manager dialogue, organizations would be wise to invest in developing coaching and feedback capabilities among their managers. And, ongoing education for the entire employee population will help ensure that individual contributors understand their own role in the process, too.
- They’re not getting enough feedback.
Nearly half (48%) of employees say they’re not getting enough feedback from their managers, and even more (52%) say check-ins are not scheduled frequently enough. Many companies have moved to informal performance management precisely because they want to increase the frequency and timeliness of feedback. Making this happen, however, may require more frequent communication than expected, including nudges for both managers and employees. Successful companies are ensuring that accountability for feedback is shared—so if employees are not getting the feedback they want, they’re empowered to ask for it.
While these concerns might not set off alarm bells, they should raise a few eyebrows. Is it possible that you’ve moved to an informal performance management process and ended up with no performance management at all? These concerns from employees point to areas where companies can focus in order to ensure their new process works as well as intended and achieves the business results that set it into motion in the first place: increased employee satisfaction, greater administrative efficiency, and optimal company performance. If you want more details on IDG’s research and how you might leverage it to improve your own process, get the whitepaper.
Joe Larocque is co-founder and VP of Solutions at GuideSpark. Joe leads GuideSpark’s solution development, working closely with HR leaders to deliver employee communications that are personalized, mobile, measurable, and ultimately drive to the right outcomes.