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The New Performance Review

The New Performance Review

Like many HR practitioners, we have been intrigued over the last few weeks by media reports giving performance feedback on, well, the role of performance feedback in the workplace.

Two news feeds, in particular, have caught our attention.

First, the news that Accenture and Deloitte have scrapped annual performance reviews. Instead of an annual event, feedback will be given in a more ”fluid” manner, on an ongoing project-by-project basis. According to reports, they will also do away with forced ranking, a topic which seems to sharply divide opinion in the HR world (click here to read the full article).

And then as if on cue, the New York Times published its article on Amazon’s work culture (click here to read the article), in which it referred to unrest caused by Amazon’s existing system of ongoing performance feedback via its “Anytime Feedback Tool”. This IT application is best described as an online mechanism by which employees can provide feedback to each others’ managers, at anytime, without the target employee knowing who said what. The article was so scathing of Amazon that it prompted its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, to publicly announce that “The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know” (to read the article, click here).

So what’s best? An annual feedback review or a daily one?

In this latest article published by the CIPD the author argues that the real issue is honesty, rather than the form in which it is given. As the author says, “Annual appraisals and instant performance management only work constructively if managers are brave enough to be honest. Difficult feedback, backed up by examples of unsatisfactory work, is not bullying or harassment, and some performance management policies expressly state this”.

Performance reviews are nothing new, and 360-degree feedback has been around since at least World War 2. What is changing, however, is the speed at which it can be given. In past times, managers would have to tediously collate paper feedback forms into some sort of amalgamated review, moderate the responses, and then present the results to an employee. Today, nobody has time for that. And with the increasing use of technology in HR, feedback can become truly ongoing and in real-time. The question, however, is whether human psychology can keep pace. It’s one thing to receive feedback reflecting over an entire year, another thing to receive it daily – especially if it veers towards the negative.