Stop Employee Reviews, Start Employee Development

employee development

Companies like GE, Adobe and Microsoft all share something in common. They have all joined forces with what countless studies have been telling us and realized that the annual employee performance review is ineffective and does little to change or improve employee performance. If you want to improve your organization the time is now to stop employee reviews, start employee development instead.

Employee reviews tend to look for the negatives and gloss over any positives. They can be nerve wracking for everyone involved and rather than motivating employees, they can be demoralizing. When you stop employee reviews you can instead focus on employee development. It’s an opportunity to continually offer improvement opportunities and help create the employees that will make your organization prosper.

There are three reasons employee reviews are so 1950’s

  1. It’s too little too late

    The feedback is based upon events that happened 2, 3 maybe even 9 months ago. The details are fuzzy now and can even be inaccurate. By not providing feedback and tools for improvement in a timely manner, you have only reinforced behavior and outcomes you don’t want.

    Employee development should rely upon instant feedback. If something is going wrong – or right – recognize it immediately. Learning opportunities should be happening constantly and it’s management’s responsibility to take advantage of these opportunities. Feedback that happens in the moment is relative and more likely to stick than sending an employee to a training seminar six months after an error to improve their skills.

  2. Expectations aren’t clear

    If managers aren’t clear on what is expected, what the goals of the organization are and don’t ensure their employees are on the same page, the likelihood of success is minimal.

    Employee development requires articulating individual, team and organizational goals. Having well-articulated conversations where both manager and employee are clear on the desired outcomes, timelines and needed skills, keeps projects on time, teams working effectively toward the same goals and gives employees to share any concerns before they become problems.

  3. Leaders aren’t trained to coach verses manage.

    Often annual reviews covers issues superficially and while highlighting what’s working they rarely focus on what is working or how the employee can go about resolving the challenge.

    When you provide coaching for employees you provide both positive and negative feedback. There is no judgement associated with either. This opens the conversation to solutions, tools and strategies without anyone becoming defensive or frustrated. This also allows for growing employee skills in advance for needing them. Employees that feel supported and valued will outperform those merely going through the motions.

When looking at employee development rather than employee reviews, you want to make sure you are developing the skills and habits that best support your industry, your company and your culture. You also should invest first in developing your managers to become leaders who are comfortable with challenging conversations, able to identify development plans for their team members and provide them with the right tools. There is no one size fits all.

I’ve long said that employee reviews just don’t work anymore.  If you’d like to develop your managers into coaches and your employees into rock stars, feel free to contact us for details of our Leaders as Coaches programs.


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