Turn the dreaded Performance Review into an Engagement Tool

Published on
March 7, 2014
Martina Mangelsdorf
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Image courtesy of the Institute of Management.

“In the world of organizational life, there’s no single discussion that causes so much fear and dread on the boss’s side and so much anger and resentment on the direct report’s side than the performance review” a Forbes article states, listing the “10 Biggest Mistakes Bosses Make In Performance Reviews”. The Wall Street Journal goes as far as asking organizations to “Get Rid of the Performance Review!” because it “destroys morale, kills teamwork and hurts the bottom line.” Really? And even worse, if they already knew that back in 2008 (when the article was published!) why are performance reviews still a common practice?

Maybe they are because this process is a relic from a time when Baby Boomer managers desperately tried to motivate a couldn’t-care-less Generation X to perform in exchange for rewards and the prospect of a bonus. The ever-skeptical Xers in need of proof for how performance would be measured were probably delighted at the time to follow a structured and rigorous process to earn their recognition once a year and otherwise be left alone to autonomy. Even though they are amongst the critics complaining about the annual review these days, it must have worked at least for some time because otherwise there is no reason why the process would have stuck around for as long as it has. Well, let’s face it, the tides have turned and this practice has run its course. Generation Y won’t be satisfied with an annual review anymore. Their thirst for continuous feedback, social appraisal and instant recognition will sooner or later drive a very different model. Then again, we’re not quite there yet, so what can supervisors and people managers do in the meantime?

Here is an idea: Why not turn a dreaded outdated practice into a timely tool that’s useful, relevant AND helps resolve a couple of your most pressing business issues?We’re talking about employee engagement and talent retention and we know that many organizations struggle in these areas, especially when it comes to corporate Gen Y populations. Keeping your talent engaged and motivated is pure money in your budget because replacing even a junior associate who walks out on you can easily cost you 150% of their annual salary and that is money you’d certainly rather spend differently! Let alone the hassle of finding, interviewing and onboarding new talent…

This article was originally published on GAIA insights.