Annual performance reviews are universally loathed by both employees and managers.

They’re time-consuming, backward-looking, and often reveal more about the rater than the person being rated. No wonder some big companies, such as Adobe and Accenture, have jettisoned them in recent years.

However, without a well-thought-out alternative, ditching annual reviews can leave employees feeling left in the dark about the rationale for pay and promotions. In this article, we present six strategies that have proven to be effective in supporting and motivating employees, from regular and timely discussions to self-reflections, “feed-forward” feedback, and involving co-workers in performance assessments. Read on to learn how to replace the dreaded annual performance review with a more effective and engaging approach to managing employee performance.

How to Ditch Performance Reviews and Keep Your Employees Happy

If you’re a manager, then you know that annual performance reviews can be a tedious and unproductive process. They’re dreaded by both bosses and employees alike. While many companies have tried to eliminate this dreaded ritual, some have found that their attempts to remove performance reviews have backfired. So what’s the solution?

First, it’s important to realize that the key to effective performance management is regular communication. Instead of relying on annual reviews, it’s better to have regular, timely, and meaningful conversations with your employees. This can be done in a number of ways, including frequent check-ins, coaching, and feedback.

Another strategy is to focus on the how, not the what. Instead of just looking at what an employee has done, consider how they did it. Look at their skills, behaviors, and competencies. This can help identify areas for improvement and growth, and provide opportunities for coaching and support.

Managers should also be trained to have meaningful conversations. It’s important to ensure that individual raters’ idiosyncrasies don’t influence performance ratings. This can be accomplished by using software platforms that help keep track of employee progress and performance, and remind managers to have ongoing discussions with staff.

Involving co-workers in performance assessments can also be helpful, but it’s important to avoid the pitfalls of turning the workplace into a surveillance state. To do this effectively, a company must have a fairly open and honest culture.

Lastly, consider looking forward, not back. Instead of focusing on the past, look at ways to identify and cultivate your best people for the future. One effective strategy is to provide “feed-forward,” which links the performance discussion directly to the employee’s own development.

The key to effective performance management is to build trust between bosses and workers. By ditching annual performance reviews and focusing on regular communication, coaching, and feedback, you can improve employee engagement and create a more productive and positive workplace culture.

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