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Questions to Ask When Redesigning Your Performance Review Process

There’s been a lot of talk the last few years about changing up the performance review (or even getting rid of performance reviews) and moving to a completely new process. Overhauling your performance management system is a big project, involving many steps. You’ll want to get executive support, and collect feedback from your managers and staff.  You’ll want to form a work group to come up with the new system. After a system is created, then you’ll focus on training and roll out. Each phase of the project presents its own challenges.

Two young businesswomen having a meeting in the office sitting at a desk having a discussion with focus to a young woman wearing glasses

Let’s look at the middle of the process, the actual development of the new system. Your work team is rolling up their sleeves, and trying to figure out what the new system should look like. Let’s review some questions your team might consider when they are ready to really dig in and start designing your new system.

The Primary Goal

First and foremost, ask yourself what you want to achieve. Beyond simply being a mechanism to document performance for HR, what business result are you hoping to achieve from your new Performance Management System? Maybe its developmental growth for your staff. Maybe its greater company agility due to more frequent feedback/coaching sessions. What company pain points can this system address? Consider your company values and culture. How can this new system support company values and help the organization achieve its strategic goals?

Building in Components

Keeping your overarching goals in mind, explore what components will be included in your process. These will be different for each company, so consider your culture, your workforce, and what has worked well (or not) in the past. You might consider options like:

  • An evaluation of competencies
  • Open narratives on performance
  • Goal setting, for individuals and or teams
  • A self-evaluation component
  • Peer feedback
  • Rating scales

You’ll also want to consider the logistics. Will each department use the same process and/or form? Will new hires use the same process as highly tenured employees? To what extent will you use technology in your process? And, of course, what documentation will be captured? HR generally likes documentation to support decisions such as compensation, promotions, and discipline. 

Manager and Employee Meetings

Consider timing. How often will managers sit down with each employee? Once a year? Quarterly? Monthly? Employees today are increasingly dissatisfied with once a year reviews, so I encourage you to lean toward frequent feedback throughout the year. Meeting often will increase agility in the organization as managers are more quickly aware of problems, and employees are more quickly aware of changing priorities and resources. Meeting frequently can help build better relationships between manager and employee. Meeting frequently can help ensure that employees understand their manager’s expectations. And meeting more frequently can facilitate employee development and growth. 

What will these meetings look like? Will the discussions be long or short? Will they cover the same topics every time? Will there be documentation? For some companies, the monthly or quarterly check-in might be just 4 simple questions.  Or maybe a competency checklist will be part of the meeting, especially for someone learning a new role. Again, this will vary for each company, maybe even by department. The trick is to figure out what will work best for your organization. 

Putting it together

I’ve just given you a lot to think about. I can’t give you the answers to these questions, as they will vary by company and maybe even by department or employee group. So how do you work through all of these questions? With an open mind and patience. Come to the table with an understanding of your ultimate objectives for the system, and feedback from employees and managers. Then be prepared to brainstorm and discuss. Consider ideas you’ve never tried before.  Look at what other companies have tried. As you start putting pen to paper, be ready to cross things off, back up, add new ideas, and try again, and again. 

Revamping your Performance Management Process is not a quick and easy task. It takes a lot of work and dedication, from quite a few people in the organization. And you might not get it right the first time. After running with the system awhile, you may realize that changes are needed. Keep your ultimate goals in mind, and modify the system as the needs of your organization evolve.  

If you’d like to learn more about revamping your performance management system, sign up for my webinar: Ditch the Performance Review! Then What?

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About the Author

Amy Esry, PHR, SHRM-CP

Posted in: Human Resources

Posted by Amy Esry, PHR, SHRM-CP

Amy believes that a company will be successful when the employees are successful, and she values being a contributor to that success at Hausmann-Johnson Insurance. She uses over 20 years of Human Resources experience to oversee the agency’s internal HR management while also serving as a HR consultant for clients. Amy recognizes that running a business is complicated enough without having to understand employment law, so she does the leg work by continually researching and determining how the law applies to specific situations. She enjoys simplifying a complex employment issue to ensure that a client is considering all options and is aware of all ramifications. Amy holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Truman University, as well as an MBA from the University of Missouri – Columbia. In her free time, she loves gardening and sinking her hands into a bag of fresh potting soil. During the winter, she hibernates with books, craft projects, jigsaw puzzles or board games with her family.

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