This article amounts to an overview of each of the different styles of review processes; annual, bi-annual, quarterly, 360 degree feedback and the engagement survey. None of these are perfect as each has both pros and cons. As each business has its own unique needs, there is no ‘right’ review structure…but I do have my favourites ;-)
Annual reviews are the once a year reviews where managers meet with their employees to discuss performance, highlight areas for improvement and plan for the upcoming year. While, I have no problems with the agenda of such a meeting; I do have one with the frequency. Do you ever make a New Year’s resolution: “I’m going to go to the gym 5 days a week”; only for your resolve to fade in the second week. Just like your priorities change; so too do those of a business. For this reason the annual review has become a relic, reminiscent of old-school HR processes. Aside from the infrequency of the meetings being wholly impractical from a business perspective, their infrequency also stacks a huge amount of pressure upon both sides. A manager has an entire work years’ worth of performance to discuss in one short meeting. In addition, unless your manager is highly organised and has kept thorough notes on each employee on their performance throughout the year, it becomes very difficult to recall things from ten or eleven months ago. The annual review has become outdated and with good reason.
As the name suggests, bi-annual reviews are held twice per year. They are much the same procedure as the former; annual reviews. They are meetings between managers and their employees. They are used to discuss performance, highlight areas for improvement and plan for the next six months. They have largely the same pitfalls as the annual review, as their effectiveness is marred by their infrequency. However I would still recommend a bi-annual review cycle over an annual one.
Quarterly reviews are held every business quarter, so four times per year. Once again they follow a similar format to the previous two types of reviews. For most contemporary companies, this the optimal review period. Quarterly reviews are frequent enough so that incidents are more easy to recall as less time has fallen since the last review period (when compared to either the annual or bi-annual reviews), but not so frequent as to become a burden. Additionally, most business work in terms of quarters, therefore, having your review period at a same time to this cycle of quarters can be advantageous as, goals and objectives can be more closely aligned with those of the business. They enable easier evaluation of these goals and have the capacity to be more easily reset.
360 Degree Feedback
This type of feedback is perhaps the jewel in the feedback crown. 360 Degree feedback provides feedback and input from those all around you. So instead of the traditional model of evaluations being only from your managers, 360 Degree feedback combines feedback from your peers, your managers and those who report to you. By receiving feedback from each of the above you receive a more rounded view of your performance, skills and competencies. Crucially, the peer feedback can very often be the most valuable as they are the people who know you best. They work closely with you on a daily basis and collaborate on projects, therefore they are perhaps the best positioned to provide you with accurate feedback. In a sense, the feedback can be seen as more valid and objective as it is from such a varied audience. As the feedback a person receives is more diverse, this provides a unique opportunity to uncover areas that may need development or open up gaps in knowledge that could be valuable. Such feedback can then be incorporated into employee improvement or development plans.
Happy employees are the best kind of employees. They produce better work, are more engaged with the company and its objectives, and also are more likely to stick around. There’s no surprise that companies with the highest rates of employee engagement like Google, also have similarly high rates of employee retention. There are no standard drivers of engagement, however, some commonly assessed factors are: advancement, recognition, pay and benefits, job role, training and development opportunities, leadership, work environment, etc. One particularly advantageous quality of employee engagement is that it calls on employees to engage with the company and gives them a voice to provide feedback and opens up a direct channel between them and management. This inclusion in the planning and development of a company’s human process makes the employees feel valued; that not only is their voice listened to but their opinions are valued too.
Where to now?
While each of the above review processes has both advantages and disadvantages; none of them on their own is enough to adequately measure employee performance, engagement and general job satisfaction; instead, I would advocate for an amalgamative procedure whereby two or more of these are combined. For example combining quarterly or bi-annual reviews with 360 Degree feedback means that employees remain engaged, and, by default you begin to foster a culture of continuous learning and development within your company. Your review cycle is also shorter as you hold performance management meetings more frequently and therefore they are more easy to prepare for, in addition to their increased relevance due to their more timely nature.
360 Degree feedback systems are employed by HR departments as a means to more effectively encourage in-office communications and encourage a feedback culture. Contemporary 360- Degree software solutions can dramatically increase the amount of feedback your employees give each other; particularly as they can be anonymous, enabling employees to rid themselves of the fear giving feedback. One considerable bonus of using 360-degree software is the streamlining it provides to HR processes. Regular check ins and conversations which are encouraged by the 360-degree nature of the progress make the annual or biannual performance reviews a much less daunting task for managers as the information is clearly and readily and available via automatically generated reports as provided by your software solution. I you would like to learn more about how a software solution can work for you request a demo from Impraise the 360-Degree software that’s taking the HR world by storm!
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