How to improve your performance management process

With companies like GE, Adobe and Accenture revamping the way they do performance reviews, many others are now jumping on the bandwagon. But how do you make your new process truly work for your unique work environment? The best way is to start by asking your team.

Beginning a new policy with a survey gives employees ownership of the process and ensures you’ll get the information you need to make it successful. The main issue you’ll have to watch out for is how to get answers that you can then use to shape your new process.

This starts with asking the right questions. Rather than simply asking: “What do you think about the way we do performance reviews?”, ask questions with a specific goal in mind. To do this think about the most important components that make up the process for your company and make a list. For example:

Employees: Development & Engagement

Managers: Improving their team

Company: Creating a dynamic workforce

Asking the right questions

Now think about how these objectives can be broken down into solid questions. For example:



Do employees receive regular coaching and follow-ups from managers after the review period?

Are employees able to translate the information into goals?

Do they understand how these goals will contribute to their personal development and reaching our company’s objectives?

Your questions can follow two different formats

Multiple choice questions are the most common and allow you to gauge likes and dislikes with a range of responses, such as: Strongly Agree; Agree; Sometimes; Disagree; Strongly Disagree. Examples of this type of question include:

Qualitative questions go more in depth asking the respondent to explain and provide more detailed information. You should leave space for employees to write in responses to qualitative questions. Examples include:

What to avoid

To keep your questions as neutral as possible be conscious of your word choice. Leading questions can sway the reader towards a particular answer. For example, “Why are annual performance reviews burdensome for you?” The word burdensome already denotes a negative connotation for the reader, influencing their response.

Putting too many thoughts into one, or a double barreled question, can confuse them. For example, “Are the stretch assignments and leadership opportunities you’re given helpful for your professional development?” When in doubt it’s best to split them in two. At the same time remember that too many questions will make participants weary of filling out the survey and lead to less and incomplete responses.

Getting started

Send out a first e-mail explaining the importance and impact of the survey. It’s essential that you explain your intention to overhaul the company’s performance management process and would like their feedback to create an effective new strategy.

Keep in mind that a long e-mail may be ignored. The best strategy is to keep it short and to the point: why they should participate in the survey. Provide links to further optional information to learn more about real-time feedback and case studies.

If it’s possible to hold workshops or talks this would be a great way to be certain employees are informed about the changes you want to make before participating in the survey. If not be sure to spread information about the survey on all of your company’s internal communication channels.

Once you’ve sent the survey be sure to give sufficient time for employees to answer and send reminders. After the survey is completed, share the answers with the rest of the company.

Put your results into action

The most important rule of conducting an employee survey is to never ask a question about an aspect of the workplace that you don’t intend to change. For each question you ask, you should already anticipate possible fixes. If your employees don’t feel they get enough follow-up, encourage your managers to implement weekly or bi-weekly 1-on-1s with each team member and provide extra training to develop your managers. If employees feel the results are not always accurate, consider introducing 360-degree reviews to get a more diverse range of perspectives. If you find many employees get demotivated by what tends to be a long and arduous process, consider adopting a platform that can simplify this process and improve the value they receive overall.

Performance reviews and employee surveys are two of the strongest tools at your disposal to create an engaged and effective workforce. If you want to learn more about how you can build your performance management processes to improve engagement, download a free copy of our Impraise Guide to People Enablement Programs, below.

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