You might agree that “the term ‘Performance Review’ is a loaded term … and many people have a negative emotional experience simply thinking about it. It’s most often preceded by the word ‘dreaded,’” according to David Hassel in his article, The Performance Review Is Dead, Long Live The Performance (er…Best-Self!) Review.
There has been debate in the last few years whether or not Employee Performance Reviews are still effective. Some companies have completely eliminated annual performance reviews while others continue to utilize them.
The problem is, according to 15Five.com, that “for years now, managers and employees have repeatedly trudged through their annual performance review process – grading people for past performance instead of improving it in real time.”
Yet, Chris Arringdale argued, in his article, 4 Reasons You Should (Not) Trash Company Performance Reviews for talentculture.com, “Performance reviews are … critical to the success of your performance management system.” His four reasons for keeping them are as follows:
- They do improve team performance.
- You can empower management.
- Employers can ensure consistency.
- Employees want performance reviews.
Robert Clothier agrees. Clothier is the Human Resources Manager for Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry. “Many companies are favoring a constant feedback approach as opposed to a traditional review process. We feel that by having a review process that is fair, structured, and consistent, both parties get the most value out of it. Scheduled reviews are a great way to document and track progress, and it’s easy to tie our review process to our training programs.”
Arringdale continued, “Most of the arguments to get rid of the performance appraisals all together are largely based on poor performance management practices. You can, however, improve the effectiveness of performance reviews in your organization without trashing them.”
That’s exactly what Team 1 Plastics did in mid-2017 when it reworked its employee performance review – the 360 Review. Clothier explained the changes. “We added a [Team Member] self-evaluation form which is filled out before the review meeting. It was created to get Team Members more engaged in their own review process and to give them an opportunity to speak about their performance by sharing strengths and opportunities for improvement, and to share any goals that they may have at Team 1.”
“The supervisor evaluation form was also changed,” Clothier added, “and is now specific to a Team Member’s position. We take each task from the job description, and the supervisor marks the Team Member’s performance based on two choices: ‘meets expectations’ or ‘needs improvement.’ Any task that needs improvement requires further review. We then try to create a training plan to boost that performance. Our goal is to have the next review come back where every task meets expectations.”
Clothier said that Team 1’s 360 review goes beyond the traditional performance review because it gathers information from multiple sources. For example, there is a peer review that is conducted via an online survey. When a Team Member’s review is coming up, links to the survey are sent to Team Members who interact with him/her on a regular basis.
“The questions for a peer review vary based upon whether the Team Member being reviewed is hourly, a Supervisor, or is in a leadership position,” said Clothier. “A Supervisor’s review expands upon the hourly Team Member’s review by asking questions like, ‘Does the Team Member encourage your development?’. An example of a leadership question is ‘Does (s)he provide leadership and vision for the company as appropriate for his/her position?’.”
Clothier said that since Team 1’s review process is tied to wage increases, Team Members are reviewed near the anniversary date of when they began working at their current positions. When Team Members move into new roles, they receive both a six-months and an annual review. After that, they are reviewed annually.
Clothier acknowledged that, if not done properly, a 360 review can turn into a meeting just to have a meeting – a lost opportunity. However, he believes that the updated review process makes it harder to have a review where the Team Member only hears some brief praise, signs a document, and waits for a year to have another review.
“We ask our team each year whether somebody has discussed their personal and professional development within the last 12 months. Team 1 does a lot of internal hiring, and we want our team to get excited about the growth opportunities that exist here.”
Clothier said that the updates to the company’s 360 Review are working. “The improvements in dialogue and written comments have been outstanding. In addition, we currently have 10 Team Members with training plans that we’ve identified through the training portion of our review.”
Are Employee Performance Reviews Still Effective? For Team 1 Plastics, the answer is a definite, “Yes!”