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WAYCROSS, Ga. — Employee performance reviews are an absolutely necessity, but the current annual model is “dated.” Reviews much be conducted much more frequently, Dr. Chris Walsh, founder, president and CEO of Reliant, advised during a webinar hosted Wednesday by PeopleMatter, a provider of workforce solutions and business intelligence tools to convenience stores.
In some instances, performance reviews should take place as often as once per month, but a quarterly review is generally a good model for most retailers, Walsh said during the webinar entitled “High-Impact Performance Management: Four Ways to Build Your Leadership Bench and Maximize Business Potential.” Reliant's end-to-end talent management solutions and assessments are used by more than 1,000 companies globally.
“You need to invest in a performance review,” Walsh said. “You need to identify leaders, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your company.”
Convenience store chain Flash Foods Inc., soon to be acquired by CST Brands Inc., is a big believer in the performance review process. The Waycross, Ga.-based retailer conducts quarterly reviews, and the information obtained is vital, noted fellow presenter Michelle Davis, Flash Foods training manager.
“The feedback we receive clarifies expectations, sets goals and improves performance,” Davis explained. “We also find that it increases employee retention.”
Prior to implementing the PeopleMatter Perform technology platform, Flash Foods used a traditional paper-and-pencil approach to evaluate employee performance. The difference between the two approaches has been dramatic, she relayed.
“Our store managers are getting real results of performance instead of just checking boxes,” Davis said.
REMOVING THE NEGATIVE CONNOTATIONS
Most managers and employees dislike the performance review process. In fact, they try to “avoid it like the plague,” Walsh pointed out. But he assured that the process can be made much better for employees and managers alike.
Most companies also believe they are not doing a good job of executing performance reviews. During the webinar, Walsh asked attendees to grade their performance management process and the majority responded with a “C” grade.
“That makes sense,” he said. “An average of only 10 percent of companies say they do an exceptional job in performance management.”
To improve the performance review process, Walsh recommends:
- Companies should first make sure managers are trained on how to do reviews properly.
- Companies must make sure they measure the right things. Hiring an expert to help with this aspect can be quite valuable for retailers.
- Lastly, retailers should have a quality technology solution to help execute the review process.
A major reason why performance reviews are so dreaded is employees think these reports will focus on the negative aspects of their job performance. Even worse, constructive criticism is often given with no subsequent development plan to improve upon weaknesses, which can definitely dampen employee morale, Walsh relayed. Employee strengths must be a main component of employee performance reviews as well as weaknesses, he stressed.
In addition, companies simply giving across-the-board raises following annual reviews can be a poor approach.
“There’s nothing worse for a high-performer than when across-the-board raises are given,” Walsh concluded. “Good people will leave.”