A lot can happen in a minute. Customers are won and lost in the span of 60 seconds. A moment of exceptional customer service or an awkward comment by an employee can turn a minute into something valuable or equally devastating.
As we attempt to evaluate our employees at the end of a year, we often fail to recall those minutes and compile them into a cohesive evaluation. But what if we had a better way of recording these small moments of success and failure—something that literally takes seconds to do, but directly impacts your company’s future? Would a guaranteed improvement to the quality of your year-end evaluations be enough to start a new habit?
Leaders will always need to make reliable judgments based on employee performance and employees will always want feedback. One survey found that nearly 85% of millennials—the majority of the workforce—said they’d feel more confident if they could have more frequent conversations with their managers. Ongoing feedback and effective coaching are the new gold standard of employee engagement. Some leaders and managers provide this type of feedback as a matter of habit—they check in frequently to ask how employees are doing, or to see if there are any issues—but few have formalized the process.
That old time-sucking stalwart of employee engagement, the annual review, is falling out of favor (more on that below) but if that’s what you use now—it’s a decent start. Read on to learn how to improve the effectiveness of your current employee evaluations and prepare your business for future workforce success, one minute at a time.
The changing paradigm of performance management
Modern performance management is undergoing a major shift. Companies around the globe are abandoning annual reviews in favor of more forward-looking models of employee development. Adobe, General Electric, Deloitte, Accenture, IBM and Netflix are among many getting attention for doing away with traditional performance reviews.
The general consensus is that annual reviews are inaccurate, stressful, time-consuming, and ineffective. Nobody really likes them, not supervisors, not employees. They do not typically boost engagement or performance and in some cases may even negatively impact productivity. As many as 70% of multinational corporations are moving away from the annual review model of performance management.
The new trend is real-time performance assessment involving frequent check-ins, collaborative goal-setting and ongoing coaching. It’s simple at face value but in practice represents a fundamental shift requiring adjustments in organizational culture, different performance management tools, and new training for managers.
60 seconds to better performance management
We’ve told you before why annual reviews don’t work and how you can do better, and the trend is clearly moving away from doing them. However, that does not mean a cold stop on all performance assessment. That would be a mistake. Instead, consider a simple tool your managers can implement today to improve employee assessments—no matter how often they are conducted—and establish best practices for tomorrow: diary-based note keeping.
We know—it’s not a shiny, exciting idea. But like meditation, this simple practice can have a huge impact. Keeping a consistent log of employee performance ensures your annual reviews run as well as an old-fashioned system can, while moving your company towards a modern practice of real-time feedback. It takes about 60 seconds per employee, per week.
To recall six months’ or a year’s worth of employee performance, attitude and work-related milestones, it is essential to have a system in place. Here is an easy 3-step process as explained in our free, downloadable white paper Winning Hawaii’s Talent War:
- Collect your notes and observations. Make it as low-tech or as high-tech as you like; whatever is easiest for you. A paper notebook, Word document, spreadsheet or note-taking app will do.
- Determine competencies. Figure out what you want to keep track of for each employee (performance, customer care, attitude etc.) and use a 1-5 scoring system where 1 is not up to expectation, 3 is satisfactory, and 5 exceeds expectation.
- Log regular updates. Take 30 to 60 seconds to reflect on each employee’s recent work. Set a reminder and do this weekly. A few words and a quick score become useful metrics when you have several months’ worth.
It is very important that managers record both positive and negative observations, with an emphasis on the positive. Research has shown that focusing on employee strengths promotes increased engagement, better customer service, and fewer errors and accidents. The best way to remember the little things is to take frequent notes.
Customers of simplicityHR have the advantage of the Micro-Evaluations® module built into HR Symphony®. With built-in reminders, customized competencies and dynamic reporting, MICRO-EVALUATIONS® facilitate the conversations that engage employees and build on their strengths instead of fixating on weaknesses.
These notes become the factual basis for your evaluations, whether they are ongoing or annual. When combined with new software and managerial training, real-time feedback will be your new best friend. But for now, do what you do better, and we’ll get there together.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.