Performance Management Resources

A practical look at building and implementing your perfect performance management process.

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5 Perks of an Online Performance Management System

An online performance management system take the hassle out of formal performance reviews. That matters because most performance review systems are a hassle. According to SHRM, 95% of managers say they’re dissatisfied with the performance management process. 

The process becomes more complex as organizations increase review frequency and add employees. Not only is it hard to conduct the reviews, but also to document the reviews—a critical part of the process for employee performance management and compliance.

Online performance management systems like PerformYard can help.

PerformYard can help you upgrade from a manual review process. Learn More

What is an Online Performance Management System?

An online performance appraisal system is a digital platform that gives HR leaders, managers, and employees all-the-time access to performance management information. Tools like PerformYard help companies conduct and document performance management meetings while tracking goals and progress. 

Most of these systems exist in the cloud, accessible wherever employees and their managers may be. Remote access has become a major benefit of these systems since the shift to remote work, but there is a range of other benefits that companies and HR leaders gain through the use of an online performance management system.

What Are the Benefits of an Online Performance Management System? 

Traditional performance reviews rely on tedious administrative processes to track, document, and communicate performance review information. HR leaders have to remind managers to fill out reviews. The HR person may have to collect reviews in their email or a cloud storage drive. It's hard to see data from all the reviews in one place, which means it's difficult to gain any insights.

Online performance management systems remove that administrative burden and provide additional benefits. 

1. Promote a more transparent company culture

Online performance management systems allow broad access to information about employee performance—and how it aligns with company performance. This transparency ensures everyone knows how they and their colleagues contribute to company success. More transparent company culture is created through:

Continuous feedback

Though some companies still conduct formal reviews annually, online employee performance management systems allow for continuous feedback throughout the year. Continuous feedback is a best practice contributing to organizational success. Managers, employees, and HR leaders have 24/7/365 access to feedback on employee performance.

Clear goals

Having an in-person performance management conversation is a great idea, but only if you can document the discussion. Leaving it to chance that both manager and employee will recall specifics leads to miscommunication. Online performance management systems track goals to ensure everyone understands what needs to be accomplished.

PerformYard's digital performance management system displays goals on employee dashboards. Every employee and manager can see goal progress throughout the year and use the data as a reference point in meetings.

online performance management goals

Frequent feedback

Employees need frequent feedback to perform effectively. Online employee performance appraisal systems provide a convenient, seamless, and accessible way to document that feedback. Some companies default to using email to provide feedback, but that approach fails to tie feedback to the overall review process.

In PerformYard, it's easy to give feedback within the platform. That feedback is stored in the employee's dashboard where it's available to view during the employee's annual or quarterly review.

performance management feedback

PerformYard can help you upgrade from a manual review process. Learn More

2. Align individual goals with company goals

In some organizations, employees may work hard but fail to align their work with company goals. That’s a waste of resources—both time and money. Online performance management systems ensure that individual and company goals are aligned

Real-time goal setting helps employees work on tasks that support department, division, and organizational performance. Dashboards with progress tracking allow employees and managers to monitor performance and make course adjustments. Reports provide quick visual insights into progress.

Cascading goals

Optimum performance management happens when goals cascade from the top of the organization down to the front lines. 

  1. The organization’s strategic objectives drive goal-setting for senior leaders. 
  2. Senior leaders create and assign goals to their direct reports, and so on, down through the organization. 

Cascading goals can also be viewed horizontally to quickly visualize and track interdepartmental dependencies. 

Goal progress tracking

Online performance management systems provide a clear line of sight into individual and organizational performance, visible to everyone in the organization. Traditional methods of goal progress tracking are often siloed and not up-to-date. Online tracking provides visibility, real-time reporting, and easy access for all. 

3. Get manager buy-in on the review process

We admit it; performance review and evaluation are not at the top of most managers’ lists of the things they enjoy most. In many organizations, there are good reasons for that. Performance management can be burdensome— especially when managers are responsible for multiple employees. 

Online performance management systems reduce the friction of performance management, leading to manager buy-in and enhanced value for all.

Email notifications

Email notifications help keep managers on top of the deliverables and dates associated with managing their staff members and providing regular feedback. PerformYard updates employees and managers with email notifications every time a review is due, as seen below.

performance management system notifications


Online performance management systems automate the administrative elements of the performance management process. These systems ensure documentation and provide easy access to information when needed.

PerformYard is designed to turn your existing review process into a simple system. The platform doesn't force you into a complex performance review system; it makes it easier to run your existing system. Click here to learn how easy it is to set up PerformYard.

4. Streamline review scheduling

Coordinating the calendars for two people—let alone two dozen—can be challenging. Online performance management systems use automation to take the complexity out of the review scheduling process. No more struggling to run reviews on work anniversaries

Using an online performance management platform like PerformYard relieves the administrative burdens of needing to remember work anniversaries and schedules around them. The platform will always let you know when an employee is ready for their next review.

Track multiple review cycles in one dashboard 

What are performance management systems good for if they don't make your job easier? The more employees you have to track, the more challenging the process can be. Tracking multiple review cycles in one dashboard lets you quickly see which reviews are coming.

5. Birds-eye view of employee performance

Managers often struggle to track performance across teams. 

  • Who’s contributing the most? 
  • Who’s lagging behind? 
  • Who needs course correction? 
  • Who needs more kudos? 

An online performance management system gives you a birds-eye view that you can see at any time, wherever you may be. The reports will highlight top performers and reveal which employees need help.

Managers can see historical review data

Having access to historical data can help track employee progress. It can also be a significant aid when a manager is taking on a new employee or taking over another department. With traditional systems managers would need to request and access hard-copy files that may not be complete, thorough, or up-to-date.

Managers can see employee metrics in a report

Employee metrics can help you track individual employee performance. These metrics can include goal completions, sales metrics, or anything else you can dream up. Metrics and reports also give you insights into how employee performance may vary. You can compare employees across teams or compare one department to another.

You’ll have best practices to share with others and see who may need additional training, resources, and support to improve performance. 

PerformYard helps you track and monitor the following metrics in reports:

  • Reviews completed
  • Employee ratings
  • Goals attained
  • OKRs
  • KPIs
  • 360-reviews
  • Self-assessments
  • Exit interview information
  • ...and more.

What Are the Best Online Performance Management Systems? 

When choosing an online performance management system some important criteria stand out: simplicity, flexibility, and the ability to tie into your existing review process are key. 

PerformYard offers this functionality and more. Whether you need a simple solution for annual reviews or a platform that can help you manage more complex performance management needs, PerformYard has the features and flexibility you need. 

PerformYard can help you upgrade from a manual review process. Learn More

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2023 Performance Evaluation Process Flowchart, Tips & Timeline

Performance management systems focus on the most important resource in a company; the people. Yet, a study by Deloitte found that over 50% of companies surveyed did not feel their performance management system was worth the time and effort.

This statistic shows HR professionals must be thoughtful about performance management. What are you measuring? How are you measuring it? Why does it matter?

A well-designed performance evaluation process flowchart helps organizations clearly define goals and expectations while providing a path for employees to improve.

This article contains  resources to help you develop your performance evaluation process. Start with the flowchart then work your way down through the detailed explanation.

What are the Steps of the Performance Evaluation Process Flowchart?

performance evaluation process flowchart

PerformYard makes it easy to start a performance management process. Learn More

1. Setting goals

First, you must clearly articulate the responsibilities and core functions of each role in your organization. According to SHRM’s Guidelines for Establishing Effective Performance Goals, the goals you set for employees must be:

  • Clearly defined
  • Directly linked to organizational goals and values
  • Measurable and reasonable
  • Targeted – no more than three goals at a time

Defining and tracking goals can be difficult if you're relying on emails and Google Docs. PerformYard allows companies team to define and track their individual goals in a dashboard. You can tie employee goals to company wide goals. The software simplifies the process for managing goals  throughout the year, and has functions for documenting conversations between employee and manager.

2. Quarterly check-ins

Meeting one-on-one with employees every three months gives you a window into their strengths, weaknesses, and needs. In these check-ins, you will discuss short-term goals for your employee, defining milestones and benchmarks for success.

Check-ins are also a great time to offer feedback on how employees can improve their performance and offer coaching to meet any gaps in their skills.

3. Post Check-in Review

After the check-in, the manager and employee should fill out a survey detailing how the process went and how it could improve. You can collect this feedback via a brief used to refine the process for the next quarterly review.

4. End of Year Review

The end-of-year review, often tied to compensation, is a time for employees and managers to review long-term goals for professional development and set goals for the coming year. These longer-term goals can align with job functions or relate to personal growth. 

While the end-of-year review tends to reflect on the previous year’s performance, the most effective end-of-year reviews are future-focused. Think about how the employee can improve in the coming year.

5. HR Evaluation of Review Process

Because the performance review process often relies on qualitative performance assessments, HR needs to evaluate how assessments are performed and how employees are rated. Evaluator bias can unfairly impact an employee’s professional growth and the opportunities they are afforded. Including HR oversight in your performance evaluation process can prevent bias from negatively impacting your organizational culture and impeding growth.

PerformYard helps HR professionals track performance management. Learn More

What is the Purpose of the Performance Evaluation Process Flowchart?

The employee and manager can both uncover valuable information by following the performance management process flowchart. For the employee, performance evaluations are an opportunity to get feedback on their performance and clarify the expectations they must meet.  

For the company, the performance evaluation process measures the value of an employee’s work. The organization can use the results of an employee’s performance evaluation to inform salary negotiations and identify candidates for promotion.

HR can use negative evaluations to identify employees who need additional training or referrals for performance improvement plans. When managers flag deficiencies in performance in the evaluation process, they can plan for the next steps including coaching, retraining, demotion, or even firing.  

Example Performance Review Process Timeline

A robust performance review process combines multiple elements:

  • Scheduled annual and quarterly reviews
  • Goal setting
  • Coaching
  • Ongoing informal feedback and evaluation

Each of these elements contributes to a growth-oriented work environment that elevates performance by encouraging employees to develop their skills.

Annual Reviews

Annual reviews are the most common type of performance review. These reviews can be scheduled around company-wide evaluation periods or tied to individual employees’ work anniversaries.

In these reviews, employees and managers discuss all that has been accomplished in the previous year, highlight opportunities for improvement and create a plan to meet goals for the next year.

Disadvantages of Annual Reviews

While annual reviews have an important role to play in your overall performance review process, they aren’t enough on their own. Engaging in meaningful and productive performance management requires frequent evaluations and feedback opportunities.

Leaders in large organizations may feel there isn’t enough time or resources to review employees more often. Failing to invest in your organization’s continuous improvement may save time in the short term but it will cost you the opportunity to increase productivity in the long term.

Another disadvantage of annual reviews is that, instead of fostering ongoing dialogue between employees and managers, yearly evaluations feel like a final grade.

How can a manager accurately measure an entire year of performance for even one of their direct reports?

What is the value in telling an employee in December that they failed to meet expectations in June?

Research shows that these summative evaluations can cause real problems for retention. In one poll, 85% of Americans said that a negative review would be enough to make them start looking for another job.  

A lot can change in an organization in a year. Organizational changes can impact how an employee’s performance is perceived and measured, even if the employee hasn’t changed how they do their job. How do you evaluate employee performance if the goals are always changing?

Examples of this type of organizational change include:

Changes in the organizational structure can result in the realignment of teams and direct reports.

Introducing new software can expose weaknesses in technical competence that can negatively impact performance.

Shifts in organizational culture can change what skills and qualities are valued and which are to be discouraged.

When to Use Annual Reviews

Annual reviews work best when manager and employee work to set goals for the year and establish a plan for reaching those goals with defined milestones and measures of success.

These reviews are also an opportunity to revisit quarterly evaluations and discuss further opportunities for growth. Finally, this more comprehensive performance review should give HR the information it needs to determine salary increases or award other performance-based incentives.

Annual reviews work best when the employee and manager can see data from all the 1:1s, quarterly reviews and 360 reviews that happened throughout the year. Without this data, annual reviews turn into an exercise in remembering what happened. PerformYard stores all data from all review cycles in every employee's profile.

This data makes it easy to conduct annual reviews based on the data from the past year.

Quarterly Check-Ins

Quarterly reviews are opportunities for managers and their direct reports to discuss short-term goals and opportunities for growth. These performance reviews offer more useful feedback than annual reviews simply because they happen more often.

When employees and managers check in regularly and discuss expectations, this open dialogue creates an environment where employees feel supported. Plus, employees who feel that their managers are invested in their success are more engaged and committed to growth.    

Continuous Feedback

Quarterly and continuous feedback can indeed be resource-intensive, but these frequent interactions are essential to improving productivity and elevating performance. Not to mention, no employee wants to wait a year to find out their manager has noticed that they have been doing their job wrong. Why would a manager be willing to wait months to address something that could be corrected today?

Some employees want to do a better job but are afraid to ask for help. They may be afraid to ask a manager or coworker for help because it may make them appear incompetent. Without timely feedback and support, these employees will continue to make the same mistakes.

When managers offer constructive feedback to employees, they empower them with greater clarity about expectations for their performance. The feedback empowers employees to ask for additional guidance.  

Implementing the Performance Evaluation Process Flowchart

Managing a robust performance evaluation process is simple if you have the right tools. PerformYard’s Performance Management software makes it easy to support employee development.

The simple dashboards show a range of performance data in one place, from annual reviews to quarterly goals, self-evaluations, and competencies. With this comprehensive tool, managers can easily track performance and generate reports and data that support HR decision-making.

Performance management is more than just a tool to evaluate success or failure. With effective performance management process steps in place, you can encourage ongoing dialogue, clarify expectations, and develop your employees by encouraging personal growth. The process ensures employees and managers continue to align their work with your organization’s values and goals.

Start your performance management process with the right tools. Learn More

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The Perk of Modern Performance Management

The landscape of perks is shifting. Today’s HR leaders do more than add a list of perks to their offer letters, they design employee experiences.

The Perks People Want

The landscape of perks is shifting. Today’s HR leaders do more than add a list of perks to their offer letters, they design employee experiences.

This new world is bringing together compensation, benefits, perks, culture, role design, style of work and much more to create a comprehensive package that is more closely aligned with the priorities of people today.

That’s because people are less swayed by all the extras adjacent to their work; office spaces, catering, on-site massage, etc, and more focused on the experience of the work itself; personal growth, strong working relationships, impact on their organization and the world.

It’s not uncommon to hear a parent or grandparent say something like, “I can’t believe she left Fooble, the benefits were amazing! and to join a 5 person non-profit!?!”

Today’s best jobs offer people a meaningful and fulfilling professional life with the flexibility to also pursue a fulfilling personal life.

So then how can HR deliver professional fulfillment and better compete for top talent?

What is Professional Fulfillment

Professional fulfillment is a vibe, and no one passes the vibe check better than WeWork. Yes they’ve got their issues, but their slogans speak to the modern workforce better than anyone else. 

WeWork offices are plastered with neon signs like, “Do what you love,” “Make a life, not just a living,” “Can’t believe this is my job,” “The future is yours to create,” “Pursuing my life’s work,” “Don’t just exist.” 

What WeWork has identified in people is a desire to do what they’re good at, and passionate about. A desire to pursue work that has meaning and impact. A desire for strong professional relationships. A desire to grow and try new things. A desire to be seen and recognized.

It can be tempting to write off these ideas and think they’re reserved for people who start a YouTube channel, or quit the corporate grind to found a dog rescue, but this is the new expectation for more and more people at more and more jobs.

Despite the loftiness of “professional fulfillment” it is easier to support than you might think.

The Performance Management Perk

Helping your people find professional fulfillment at your organization starts with good communication.

People who have clarity on what success looks like, can see the impact of their work, understand their trajectory, and feel heard by their manager are far more likely to feel fulfilled at work.

Enter modern performance management.

Performance management has evolved from a compliance exercise to a foundational part of the employee experience. HR and leadership are becoming increasingly involved in ensuring employees get what they need from their managers. 

While traditional performance management was focused on ratings and rankings, today’s processes are as much focused on inspiring quality performance discussions, increasing the frequency of feedback, driving alignment and uncovering opportunities for development.

All of this comes from prioritizing and making time for conversations when an organization adopts modern performance management practices. It’s not enough to tell managers that this matters. Today organizations direct these activities from the top to ensure the best employee experience for everyone.

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Setting Up PerformYard is Easy—Here’s Why

Implementing performance management software is simple with PerformYard. Hear from our Director of Customer Success on how we make sure you are successful during implementation, training, and growth.

When looking into performance management software, many people feel overwhelmed by the thought of implementation. 

How do you translate your process into a system? How do you set everything up so that it’s intuitive to use? And what about training employees? 

There’s a lot to consider. And because performance management touches every person in your organization, the stakes are high. How can you ensure a successful implementation process? 

We asked PerformYard’s Director of Customer Success, Lauren Staley, what her team does to help our customers get onboarded smoothly and efficiently. 


PerformYard is simple to set up, so you can do it on your own if that’s your style, but you won’t ever be left without support. Every new customer gets a dedicated Customer Success Manager who’s an expert on our software. They strategize with each customer to figure out how their individual process can be set up in PerformYard.

“We want our customers to feel empowered to use the software for their unique needs,” said Lauren. 

The first step of the implementation process is a kickoff meeting where your Customer Success Manager. In the kickoff meeting, your Customer Success Manager will ask questions to get a detailed understanding of your current process. Our Customer Success Team sees a wide variety of approaches, ranging from simple annual reviews to complex strategies with check-ins goals and continuous feedback.

Your Customer Success Manager can then collaborate with you to create the roadmap to launch PerformYard and invite all your employees to the platform. This can include everything from reviewing relevant functionality to scheduling training.

The primary steps to getting PerformYard launched are building your forms, configuring your cycles and adding employees to the system. 

Training for the Entire Organization

Once you’ve nailed down your process in PerformYard, your Customer Success Manager will discuss a training plan with you.

Training at PerformYard isn’t a one size fits all approach—we do what’s best for your unique organization and situation. Your training plan will be catered to the priorities of your performance management process. We’ll also consider if any elements of your process are specific to different teams, roles, or even regions to determine how the training should be presented.

Your training plan will then be catered to the priorities of your performance management process. We’ll also consider if there are any elements of your process that are specific to different teams, roles, or even regions to determine how the training should be presented.

Our Customer Success Managers often host live training sessions for entire organizations. These trainings are recorded in order to train new hires who join an organization after PerformYard has been adopted. That way every employee has a training resource that’s not only about PerformYard but about how your organization uses PerformYard. In addition to video training, we also have a robust support site, handouts on specific features, and other training resources for our customers. 

Ongoing Support at No Additional Cost

Even after customers have fully implemented the software, PerformYard offers ongoing support at no additional cost.

Your Customer Success Managers will stay with you and is committed to the success of your process. If you’re collecting feedback from employees, we can collaborate on improvements to make your process even better before the next cycle.

Lauren shared that “all our customers are working on meaningful projects and often there is a lot riding on a successful implementation. I love giving them the confidence that comes with having a partner who has been there before.”

If you decide to roll out additional features or make changes to your performance management process down the road, we’ll continue to be there to help you get the most out of PerformYard. 

We’re also here for quick questions or when challenges arise. You won’t need to worry about logging cases or chatting with a bot, support at PerformYard means working with a Customer Success Manager who knows you.

What Our Customers Are Saying

As you can see, we believe in excellent support and make implementation go off without a hitch. But don’t just take our word for it . . . Here's what our customers are saying.

“The hands-on direction, support, and lift received from our Customer Success Manager was beyond any experience I've had with vendors. He was a collaborative teammate from point of contact to roll-out and constantly went above and beyond to ensure I met the milestones set for implementation and had the answers I needed for last minute changes.” 

"I can't say enough great things about our Customer Success Manager. We had a complex review process and she enthusiastically helped with any questions we had. Not only is PerformYard a great product (especially because of the customization aspect), but it's the incredible customer support that made PerformYard stand out for us." 

“Our Customer Success Manager really strives to know us as a company and provide a tool that allows us to develop our employees. PerformYard has become a great tool for our organization and I truly view our Customer Success Manager as a crucial partner." 

“Our Customer Success Manager was fantastic and made it so that the implementation of PerformYard was seamless. She took the time to meet with us to ensure we understood everything, would go more in depth if we had any questions, etc. I appreciated the help through the set up of PerformYard, as well as the resources they have on their website that provide step by step instructions.”

If you’d like to see more examples of how PerformYard accommodates our customers, check out these case studies

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Free Employee Goal Setting Template

Our free employee goal setting template will help employees set clear, effective, and inspiring goals to pursue and provide them with a wealth of goal-setting knowledge.

Need to help employees set and manage goals, but unsure where to begin? Download our free employee goal setting template.

Why Goal Setting Is Critical for Organizations

Goal setting is one of the most important tools that an organization can use to create change in the workplace at the individual, team, or organizational level.  

Well-set goals are the key to ensuring that change is enacted within an organization. It isn’t enough to express a desire for an outcome without setting some sort of goal to achieve it. Goals must be set and progress must be measured.

Tips for Effective Goal Setting

Setting effective goals can be difficult—especially if you’re not used to setting goals frequently. The tips below will help you to create an effective goal-setting strategy. 

1. Specify Goal-Setting Criteria

When your employees and their managers sit down to set their goals, it’s critical that they understand the criteria their goals should meet.

Criteria will vary from organization to organization, but any criteria set should ensure that goals will lead to positive change within the workforce.

Ineffective goal setting leaves you with unfocused goals that are difficult to measure and track. When criteria is specified, it’s easier for managers and employees to set realistic goals that will lead to improvement and development.

2. Ensure That Goals Are Challenging

Calibrating the difficulty of goals can be complicated. Employees will want to achieve, but they may be concerned that setting goals that are too difficult may set them up for failure. They may try to set more conservative goals for themselves in order to consistently hit their goals. 

This can be tempting, especially if your organization makes critical business decisions based on how your employees hit or miss the goals they set. However, it is important to remember that the end result of effective goal setting is positive change. 

Conservative goal setting often leads to a continuation of the status quo. If a recruiter made 20 hires last year without breaking a sweat and sets their new goal as making an additional 20 hires, it's likely that no change or employee growth will occur by achieving that goal.

Goals need to be challenging. They should push employees slightly beyond their current skill set. 

Conversely, these goals should still be attainable and realistic. If an employee worked diligently one year and made 100% of their target for the year, doubling their target for next year may not be realistic.

This calibration takes time and is best done through partnership between the employee and their manager.

3. Set Up a Process to Track Goals

Goals need to be tracked throughout the process. And tracking should be more than simply checking in at the end of the process to determine whether or not the goal was achieved. This does not set up the employee for success.

There are several different ways to track goals, but the most important thing is to make sure the system you use is used across your entire organization. 

If one team is using Excel spreadsheets, another Google Docs, and another the Notes app, it will be difficult for HR to compile everything when review time rolls around. Here are two options for setting up a system to track goals across an organization:

Manual Methods

HR can implement a manual system across the company to set and track goals. An example of this would be spreadsheet software, such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. 

Each employee could have an individual spreadsheet that they and their manager had access to. These sheets would then be saved within a team folder that is then nestled within an organizational folder. These sheets could be easily accessed by those who need the information (managers, HR) while being housed in a centralized location.

Dedicated Performance Management Software

Building out multiple spreadsheets, making sure everyone has the right permissions, and following up on progress via email can quickly get complicated.

Performance management software lets employees set and track goals, complete frequent check-ins and formal reviews, and solicit and complete feedback in one dedicated, centralized platform.

With performance management software, employee goal progression can easily be turned into clean charts and dashboards. This provides executives, management, and team members the understanding of where employees are at in relation to their goals.

4. Frequently Revisit and Reassess Progress

Imagine that you had a goal of saving $10,000 this year. You checked your bank account on January 1, then didn’t check it again until December 31.

What are the odds that you saved that $10,000? Probably almost zero.

Just as it's difficult to hit financial goals without checking in on your progress, the same is true for organizational goals. It’s important for managers and employees to discuss goal progress regularly. 

Frequent check-ins will also help employees recalibrate their goals. Maybe the original goal was to create 48 email campaigns in 6 months, but after the first monthly check-in, the team determined this was unrealistic, and the goal was altered to 24.

Goals are dynamic concepts that ultimately drive positive change. If they are no longer driving that change, they are no longer effective. Use these frequent check-ins to make sure the goals are serving employees and their development. 

Gain insight into goal progress with PerformYard. Learn More

These tips will help you create an effective goal setting process for your organization. But the best way to create any goal-setting process is by setting really effective goals. 

The power of goals starts with what you choose and how you word them. Getting that step right is necessary to see any value from your goal-setting process.

Download our free employee goal setting template to get a step-by-step guide of how to set clear, effective, and inspiring goals.

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A Playbook for Aligning Employee Goals with Corporate Objectives

Goal alignment in performance management ensures that everyone in the organization, at all levels, are working together to accomplish the same business objectives.

When employee goals aren’t aligned with corporate objectives, employees may be working hard and may appear to the casual observer to be exceptional at their jobs, but what are they working to accomplish? 

Goal alignment in performance management ensures that everyone in the organization, at all levels, are working together to accomplish the same business objectives.

What Goal Alignment Should Accomplish

Goal alignment should promote shared values, provide greater transparency into what’s happening at an organizational level, and provide context to help employees to define individual and team goals.

PerformYard is designed to help companies align organizational goals. Learn More

Promoting Shared Values

Employees don’t—or shouldn’t—work in isolation. They should understand what the organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives are. 

Why does the organization exist? What does success look like? How do their individual efforts contribute to that success?

Goal alignment helps promote shared values by making sure employees’ contributions have an impact in ways that are meaningful and measurable. 

Shared alignment leads to stronger collaboration across departments and teams and creates a sense of camaraderie that can increase morale, reduce turnover, and boost productivity.

Providing Greater Transparency

All employees need insight into how they’re doing. That insight can come through direct feedback they receive from their managers, along with information about how their team, department, and organization as a whole is performing. 

Goal alignment offers greater transparency in order for employees to see the impact that their efforts—and the efforts of their colleagues—are having. Providing greater transparency ensures that goals and initiatives are taken up by everybody in the company.

Providing Context

Most employees can’t achieve success independently. They work as part of teams to achieve specific goals or objectives. 

Goal alignment helps employees understand how their individual work contributes to team and organizational goals. This context helps employees to feel more satisfied with their work and become more effective.

How to Align Personal Goals With Organizational Goals

Effectively aligning personal goals with organizational goals requires a few steps to help ensure understanding, support, and engagement. Here are three keys to aligning personal goals with organizational goals:

1. Set Cascading Goals

Starting with organizational goals, the first step in aligning personal to organizational goals is to set cascading goals that will flow down through the organization. This can be something that is done once, twice, or even four times a year. Leadership sets the direction for the organization, then departments, teams, and individuals set their goals based on that direction.

Goal Alignment in Performance Management

Betterment, an investment firm, found this approach to be extremely effective. They focused on just two overarching company goals:

  1. Grow net deposits
  2. Increase efficiency

CEO Joe Stein said, “We thought it was perfect, having one revenue-driving metric and one efficiency metric. It was a clear signal to the team what was most important.”

Objectives were broken down across teams, each with 1-3 goals that tied back to the objectives. Teams came back with their own numbers that were aligned to the overarching plan.

2. Track Everything in One Place

As noted earlier, providing employees with the ability to see how they’re doing on an ongoing basis is an important part of goal alignment. After cascading goals are set, set up a system to track individual, team, and organizational goals all in one place. 

Tracking everything in one place ensures that metrics are accurate and everybody is looking at the same numbers. It also helps employees remember what the organizational goals are and how their contributions are making an impact.

3. Make Metrics Available

Making metrics available for everyone to see helps every employee understand how they and their team are progressing towards company goals. Betterment did this in a couple of different ways. They sent out a regular email to all employees sharing current numbers and also posted top-line metrics on walls for the whole company to see.

This broad level of awareness “built in the ethic that there was no opportunity for teams to deviate from their goals to help another toward theirs,” said Stein. Instead, making metrics available created “a shared sense that it was all hands on deck to make sure everyone got where they needed to go.” 

The more robust the system a company has to track metrics, the easier it can be to make these metrics available to everybody. 

But even without an automated system, companies can simply email updates to employees or highlight them in recurring company meetings. 

The most important thing is that  metrics are widely and regularly made available to all employees in order for them to see how they (and the company) are doing.

Case Study: Goal Alignment in Performance Management

So what does aligning employee goals with corporate objectives look like?

InvestiNet is a full-service accounts receivable management firm. Bob Collins, the company owner, wanted all of his 100 employees to consider InvestiNet the best place they had ever worked. He recognized performance management as offering an opportunity to align work around company goals and individual strengths.

InvestiNet used a tiered system of diverse and frequently updated goals. At the highest level, the company will set thematic goals. These have a period of about 6 months and set the direction for the company. They include both core success metrics and transformation projects.

Individuals will then have semester goals. These set special focus areas for employees over the next 90 to 120 days. Everyone has up to 3 semester goals.

In addition to semester goals, individuals will also have 1-2 job specific goals. These define what the organization expects from the employee’s position over the course of a year.

Finally, everyone has at least one professional development goal. The focus of development is almost always “strengths based.” Occasionally someone will spend some time improving on weaknesses, but most often these goals are about doubling down on what already makes you special. 

Weekly touchpoints between employees and their managers focus on what employees were working on and how their work supported their goals. In these meetings, any misalignment is addressed with a focus on making a connection between daily work and the broader organizational purpose.

An annual review included employee self-appraisal with their managers’ review, but the approach they take is a litter different, Collins said, “The question is ‘did we, the organization, have you working on the right things and what were our results?’” 

InvestiNet’s process illustrates how companies can strategically drive better business results by aligning individual goals with team and organizational goals. Doing so gives employees insight into what’s important to the company and how their efforts can make a positive difference.

PerformYard is designed to help companies align organizational goals. Learn More

Resources for Goal Alignment

Looking for additional resources? Here are some resources we recommend to start your search on goal alignment. 

Betterment Tested Three Performance Management Systems So You Don't Have To

What are Cascading Goals & How to Use Them

What Is Organizational Alignment? (And How to Achieve It)

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How Apple Does Performance Management (And Ideas for You to Consider)

Apple’s performance management techniques can provide inspiration for your own strategy. Here are a few elements that Apple has incorporated into its performance management strategy.

Many people dream of working at Apple—and for good reason. Aside from providing discounts on its products, Apple works consistently to increase employee retention and prioritize its workers.

So how does Apple help its employees feel valued? One way is through a strong performance management process. 

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t make it easy to recreate their process. The company mostly keeps its performance review system under wraps, but they’ve let a few secrets slip to give some ideas for your own performance management process.

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Apple’s Performance Management Practices

Apple’s performance management process relies on strong communication to create a snapshot of how every employee contributes to the organization.

It includes three main features that set it apart:

360 Annual Performance Reviews

Apple’s annual performance review process includes a semi-annual review and an end-of-year review. Each employee is reviewed by three or four executives, in addition to being reviewed by direct reports and peers, making it a 360 process. This helps Apple to get a broader view of every employee’s performance, creating new perspectives on how each employee impacts the organization and where improvements can be made.

Employee performance is measured against three categories: teamwork, innovation, and results.

Based on those categories, employees will receive one of three ratings: exceeds expectations, met expectations, or needs improvement.

Not only does this help employees understand how management and other team members believe they’re doing, but it also helps HR determine skills gaps among employees.

Managers can then work to help underperforming employees develop the skills needed to excel, or HR can focus on recruitment efforts to find new employees with skills that are missing among current employees.

Employees' annual raises are directly tied to their performance reviews, ranging from 0-8% of their current salary. 


Apple is tight-lipped about their specific feedback practices, but based on our research, we’ve found that feedback is a key component of Apple’s performance appraisal system.

Apple incorporates continuous feedback, and employees receive feedback once a week. Whether feedback is delivered through check-ins or written in their performance management system, continuous feedback provides insight into performance and helps Apple employees understand where they can improve in their daily efforts.

Cascading Goals

Apple’s performance management strategy focuses on how individuals meet organizational goals through the use of cascading goals.

Cascading goals begin with the company's ultimate vision and are reinterpreted for every department and employee to ensure individual and team performance are aligned with those goals.

What Apple Employees Are Saying

Communication, employee engagement, and high levels of achievement are all important to Apple’s performance management process. 

Their strategies sound good on paper, but only Apple employees can tell us whether these methods actually work. Let’s take a look at a few anonymous Glassdoor reviews to see what Apple employees are saying.


"Everything is driven toward a common vision that our fearless leaders cast extremely well.”

"Others are so incredibly supportive. You are surrounded by people who care to be the change in the world and value your well-being."

"Most of the people at Apple are very smart, but luckily, not in an intimidating way. Everyone has been very welcoming and willing to let me in."


"Lack of transparency between various organizations can cause unnecessary overlap in work or common shifts in priority."

"Promotion and progression are completely dependent on your manager's desire to be your champion, which is sometimes divorced from your results, hard work, or historical track record.”

"They should reduce unnecessary processes, streamline the employee review process, and make it more transparent."

Takeaways for Your Organization

Although we don’t know every detail of the Apple performance review process, you can still use its general tactics to inform your organization’s process.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Apple gives employees weekly feedback so employees are always focused on achieving their goals.
  • Apple uses a 360 process, illuminating new perspectives and uncovering creative strategies for improvement.
  • Apple measures employee performance against three categories: teamwork, innovation, and results.
  • Goals are set from the top down, with each goal being broken down into cascading sets of goals that are personalized for each department and employee.

More Inspiration

Apple’s performance management techniques can provide inspiration for your own strategy. Check out these articles to see how other top companies are doing performance management:

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The Purpose of 90-Day Reviews for New Employees

New hire reviews—specifically 90-day reviews—can make a big difference in average tenure for employees, manager-employee relationships, and saving time at your organization.

New hire reviews are one of the most frequently overlooked and grossly underrated parts of a functioning performance management strategy. A 90-day performance review is a chance for employee and manager to check in with each other after the employee has had a chance to settle in.

Whether well-meaning managers allow new hire reviews to fall through the cracks or companies choose to skip them altogether, the idea behind new hire reviews often gets lost in the onboarding process. 

But new hire reviews—specifically 90-day reviews—can make a big difference in average tenure for employees, manager-employee relationships, and saving time at your organization.

In this article, we’re outlining what 90-day reviews should and shouldn’t provide—no matter what your organization does for performance management.

A 90-Day Performance Review Should Provide . . .

1. A Benchmark for Measuring Performance

90-day reviews function as an important checkpoint for an employee’s progress. In order to fully understand the importance of 90-day reviews, it helps to analyze the patterns of new hires.

Employee retention numbers today are critically low. According to a study from an HR technology company, approximately 17% of new hires leave within the first three months at a new job, while 30% leave within the first six months.

Performance management software can help you set and track benchmarks.Learn More

These statistics prove that a new employee’s first 90 days are critical. Organizations that choose not to implement 90-day reviews into their performance management strategy must rely on annual reviews to evaluate employees. If the above statistics are true, annual reviews either occur after one quarter of an employee's entire tenure or after an employee has already left the organization.

90-day reviews serve as an excellent benchmark during onboarding to measure a new employee’s performance in a realistic timeframe. After 90 days, new employees should feel independent enough to be held accountable for their performance at the company.

2. An Opportunity to Ask Questions

A successful 90-day review gives employees the opportunity to assess themselves while simultaneously giving and receiving feedback. 

The review provides employees the chance to discuss any questions, requests, or concerns that may have surfaced during their first 90 days at their new job with their managers. They can receive feedback on their initial performance to help them understand what’s working and where they can make improvements. 

The 90-day timeframe gives them a chance to make changes early, ultimately setting them up for success in their annual performance review.

3. A Solid Foundation for Manager-Employee Relationships

While the 90-day review could technically be considered a formal discussion for managers to communicate and clarify their performance expectations for new hires, this review can also be an important opportunity for managers to build a solid relationship with their employees. A well-planned 90-day review can help solidify long-term employee engagement at your organization.

Strengthen your manager-employee relationships with performance management software.Learn More

Connecting socially can also help your new hire to better understand the culture of your company. While a large percentage of starting a new job has to do with tasks and projects, there’s also a large social component to a new hire’s first 90 days. A 90-day review can help your new hire ask questions to better understand the lingo, meeting dynamics, and general culture of your organization that they’ve observed.

Ultimately, 90-day reviews help managers assess a new hire’s potential success going forward. After 90 days, managers have had ample opportunity to observe a new employee’s progress, and a formal discussion can help managers more quickly evaluate whether a new hire is a great fit for the organization or not. This step can help save time and resources at your company, which is one reason that 90-day reviews can be an effective part of any performance management strategy.

A 90-Day Performance Review Shouldn’t Be . . .

1. A “Probationary Period”

The first 90 days of a new hire’s employment are often dubbed a “probationary period”—a phrase that has led to many common misconceptions about 90-day reviews. 

Employees can misinterpret their first 90 days in a new job to be a correctional period that they are immediately placed in on their first day of work. This can potentially harm their view of the company, leading employees to believe that they must “hit the ground running” instead of taking the time that they need to get up to speed.

Instead, 90-day reviews should be adopted into performance management strategies with the intention to structure the review as a reflection of the position. The reviews should be designed to get new hires up to speed in a thoughtful and deliberate way, ensuring that the new employee is able to add value to the company as soon as possible while also feeling valued as a contributor.

2. A One-Sided Q & A

If your approach to 90-day reviews consists of nothing more than a checklist of questions for your new hires, chances are you won’t get much out of using them in your performance management strategy. It’s important that managers treat 90-day reviews as a performance review for both employees and management. 

When the review consists of nothing but feedback from management, a new employee may feel that the effort they put into their first 90 days was overlooked. Because new employees are often stressed by the multitude of new tasks and responsibilities on their plate, overloading them with feedback can cause them to feel overwhelmed.

Struggling to implement your performance management process? PerformYard can help.Learn More

Giving new hires an opportunity to share both positive and constructive feedback can help new hires feel that their opinions are heard and their voice matters. It also helps the organization understand what is and isn’t working, which can lead to improvements for the overall organization. 

Feedback for both parties is a key component of ensuring that both managers and employees get the most out of 90-day reviews. 

3. Postponed or Shrugged Off

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common mistakes that companies make regarding 90-day reviews. When managers promise to conduct a 90-day review and then fail to follow through, employees miss out on a formal opportunity to understand how they’re performing and share how things are going from their perspective.

It’s important that management puts forth the effort to create an organized agenda when it comes to 90-day performance reviews. Studies show that organizations that follow through with 90-day reviews see direct benefits in increased employee engagement and tenure. 

The key to achieving a well-structured onboarding program that sets your new hires up for success may be as simple as sticking to your 90-day review plan.

90-day reviews can be a highly effective tool to add to any performance management strategy.

No matter what your process looks like, conducting 90-day reviews with new employees can increase productivity, extend employee tenure, and help new hires reach their full potential at a quicker pace.

Check out our 90-Day Employee Performance Review Template to get inspiration for what your 90-day review process should look like.

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How to Implement Manager Performance Appraisals—Best Practices

Here's how to successfully implement manager performance appraisals, along with the key benefits of having employees review their managers.

Most organizations have some type of performance review process for employees. But what they don’t always consider is a performance review process for managers. 

Manager performance appraisals are different from employee appraisals . . . or at least they should be. 

In order for these appraisals to be effective, you won’t just be able to use your standard employee review form. Manager performance appraisals will have their own process and questions that are specific to managers. 

In this article, we’ll share how to successfully implement manager performance reviews, along with the key benefits of having employees review their managers.

Benefits of Employee Feedback for Managers

Feedback is important for employees at every level of an organization to help improve performance, identify strengths, and determine opportunities for personal growth and development. 

Performance management software makes implementation easy. Learn More

For managers, this kind of feedback can be especially insightful, especially when it comes from their direct reports. Managers can benefit from employee feedback in a number of ways, including the following:

More Sources of Feedback

It’s likely that managers receive feedback from their own managers, but it can be difficult for a manager’s manager to see how they interact with their direct reports. 

Since most managers will have more than one direct report (and often many), additional feedback from a manager's direct reports can help company leadership, HR, and the managers themselves see how they’re performing from multiple perspectives.

Better Communication

Manager performance appraisals give employees the chance to share how effective their managers are in providing them with the coaching, resources, and support they need to perform effectively. 

When given the chance to provide upward feedback, employees feel that their input matters. Upward feedback also provides a formal opportunity for employees to openly share their thoughts and feelings with their manager, helping improve communication between managers and employees.

Improved Leadership

Manager performance appraisals can help managers tap into opportunities for growth that might otherwise never have been uncovered. Feedback from multiple sources should provide managers with many ideas and opportunities to improve their leadership skills. 

Like any employee, managers can benefit as much from learning about what they’re doing well as they can from learning about opportunities for improvement. Getting feedback from their direct reports will help managers understand what they should keep doing and where they need to make adjustments. 

How to Implement Manager Performance Review

Manager appraisals are different from employee appraisals in a couple of key ways:

  • Manager appraisals focus more on employees' interactions with their manager than on a manager’s operational performance.
  • Manager appraisals assess how effective the manager is at getting work done through others, rather than how they get their own work done.
  • Manager appraisals typically include multiple sources of feedback, which can be helpful in seeing different perspectives.
manager performance appraisal

Because of these distinctions, there are some best practices that can help you establish an effective manager performance appraisal process. 

The process you implement should provide HR with the information it needs to assess managerial performance, managers with the knowledge they need to continually improve their management skills and approaches, and employees the opportunity to share their voices. The following three best practices for implementing manager performance reviews will help you to accomplish those objectives. 

1. Consider Soft Skills

Management is primarily about interactions, relationships, and engagement, all of which require soft skills that can be challenging to measure. 

Collecting information on these critical management skills requires a thoughtful approach for gathering feedback. 

As mentioned earlier, multiple sources of feedback is a major benefit of employee feedback for managers. 

Because of these multiple sources, it’s possible to compare “outlier” responses. For example, 8 of 10 employees may rate their manager as a 10 when it comes to “communicating in a respectful manner,” but the other 2 employees may rate their manager as a 1. HR may do a deeper dive into what’s behind those ratings in order to find out why the 2 employees responded differently than the others. 

Additionally, HR should measure the soft skills that are specific to the manager’s role and type of work. Employees in IT and financial services have different needs for interaction and support from their managers than employees in customer service or marketing.

2. Ask Questions That are Unique to Managers

The questions you ask in manager performance appraisals should be unique and specific to a manager’s role. This isn’t just a matter of repurposing your standard employee performance evaluation form and asking employees to use the same form to evaluate their managers.

Carefully considering the types of competencies effective managers need will help you develop an assessment that’s specifically focused on managers and not just general questions that could apply to anyone. This will also provide you with richer input to identify competencies across the organization that need improvement.

3. Use Performance Rating Scales

While open-ended questions in manager performance appraisals can be useful, not all employees know how to give high-quality feedback. Because of this, you may consider using a performance rating scale to quantitatively measure managers' performance.

While the responses will be based on personal opinions, having them on a scale allows HR to consider collective responses and make comparisons between individual competencies across departments.

Google’s manager survey is a good example of how to assess managers’ soft skills along with company-aligned strengths. Google gives 13 quantitative “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” statements addressing eight competencies.

For example, a statement like: “My manager gives me actionable feedback on a regular basis” can effectively indicate how communicative a manager might be. A statement like: “My manager assigns stretch opportunities to help me develop in my career” assess more Google-specific corporate goals related to their managers’ roles in driving employee development through stretch opportunities.

Google then uses two open-ended questions:

  1. What would you recommend your manager keep doing?
  2. What would you have your manager change?

These open-ended questions give the employee a chance for qualitative responses. 

You may consider adopting some of Google’s practices and adding both a quantitative and qualitative way of gathering feedback to your manager performance appraisals.

By considering soft skills, asking questions that are specific to managers, and using rating scales in your manager performance appraisals, you can implement effective manager performance appraisals in your organization. 

If you’d like to learn more about manager performance reviews, here are a few of our favorite articles to get you started:

Examples & Questions for an Upward Performance Appraisal

What is Upward Feedback?

360 Reviews: Self, Manager, Peer and Upward, Which Ones Do You Really Need?

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A Step-By-Step Guide to Implementing Continuous, Real-Time Performance Management

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll provide a deep dive on how you can implement continuous performance management in your organization.

Performance management has changed drastically over the years.

Major companies like Adobe, Dell, Microsoft, and IBM have abandoned traditional performance reviews, opting for continuous, real-time performance management instead. Thousands of other organizations, both large and small, have followed suit.

While this shift has undoubtedly left many inspired to implement a continuous performance management process, HR professionals should understand that a fair amount of foresight and planning is required to successfully put a continuous process in place.

We’ve helped a great deal of companies implement a continuous, real-time performance management process. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll provide a deep dive on how you can implement continuous performance management in your organization.

Streamline your continuous performance management process with PerformYard. Learn More

What Is Real-Time Performance Management?

Real-time performance management is a system where employees and managers engage in frequent, trackable communication about an employee’s performance. This includes discussing progress on goals, correcting suboptimal performance, celebrating wins, and sharing performance notes. 

The Benefits of Real-Time Performance Management

Real-time, continuous performance management yields significant benefits for organizations.

Real-Time Performance Management Helps Employees Hit Goals 

Continuous performance management provides frequent check-ins and documentation. This can be especially beneficial when it comes to achieving goals. 

For example, if an employee set a high sales goal and they only met with their manager twice a year, it would be difficult to correct the employee’s sales tactics if they weren’t on track to achieve their target. 

continuous performance management

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But when real-time performance management is practiced, managers frequently discuss progress with employees and help them understand where improvements can be made to ensure goals are achieved. 

Real-Time Performance Management Gives a Clear Picture of the Data 

Continuous performance management provides transparent data that helps managers understand how their employees are performing. 

Managers can see a full track record of their employees progress through the year with continuous feedback. This provides insight on where employees are excelling, and where they might be falling off track. Managers can then use the insights gathered to adjust resources and change direction as needed to meet goals and expectations.

Real-Time Performance Management Simplifies the Annual Performance Review

When only one or two reviews are held every year, it’s easy for managers to overemphasize an employee's most recent wins and losses. 

Continuous performance management ensures that performance is accounted for throughout the year. 

When annual reviews come around, managers already have check-in and feedback notes written down in one place. They can use data and insights from these notes to inform the annual review and ensure an employee is being evaluated on their performance over the entire year, not just the last month.

Implementing Continuous Performance Management: A Step-by-Step Process

Now that you know some of the benefits of continuous performance management, it’s time to learn how to implement it.

The steps below outline everything you need to implement a continuous performance management system, including training, feedback standards, and a unified system. 

continuous, real-time performance management

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1. Create Feedback Standards

The first step to implementing continuous feedback is to create standards for what the process should look like. 

How will feedback be delivered? Do you drop a note to somebody in a system? Do you first talk to them in person and then document the conversation? A clear standard needs to be set. 

Next, expectations should be defined around how often feedback is given. Will it be once a week? After every project? Six times a month? 

Organizations may consider setting a quota around how often employees must give feedback in order to ensure that it’s actually happening. 

But as expectations around the frequency of feedback are set, it’s important to help employees understand the purpose of continuous feedback. The reason is not to call out others–it’s to help them improve. Organizations should emphasize that feedback needs to be constructive and not punitive. 

HR has the responsibility to make sure people are actually giving continuous feedback. This is done by setting crystal-clear expectations for both managers and employees. 

2. Set Up a System

After standards around continuous feedback are set, you should set up some sort of system to solicit and collect the feedback. 

The system may be extremely simple, like a document to track everything, or more robust, like performance management software. 

But no matter what the system looks like, it should be easy for every employee to use. If the system is complex and difficult to figure out, employees will be less likely to use it, resulting in less frequent feedback. 

The key is to implement a system that’s able to effectively solicit and collect feedback while remaining accessible to all employees.

3. Provide Training

Now that you have a feedback system in place, you need to teach employees how to effectively deliver and receive feedback. This means providing in-depth training for the entire organization.

Training doesn’t just mean sending an email to everybody at the company and holding a one-off meeting. Training should be an ongoing process. 

After employees are coached on how to provide and receive feedback, managers should ensure that employees are giving effective feedback to others and following the feedback standards that have been set. 

In order to make sure employees are providing high-quality feedback, managers and employees may review feedback the employee gave to others during a check-in. They can then discuss what went well when providing the feedback, how it could have been better, and ways to improve in the future. 

Employees may also practice delivering constructive feedback by providing feedback to their manager. This would provide an excellent opportunity for managers to coach employees in real-time. 

4. Model Expectations

HR and company leadership need to walk the walk by publicly demonstrating continuous feedback practices. 

By modeling expectations, management will set the tone and tenor for the frequency and composition of continuous feedback. Managers and employees will quickly pick up on what’s expected of them and be able to replicate the modeled behavior with a little practice.

5. Tie Feedback to Long-Term Discussions

Continuous feedback works best when it supplements long-term discussions, such as annual reviews. 

When real-time feedback is given consistently, you and your organization will have a stack of actionable data at your fingertips. 

real-time performance feedback

See PerformYard's continuous feedback feature in action.Learn More

Then when annual reviews roll around, you can collate that data to make informed assessments based on employee performance over the course of the year.

Real-time feedback brings transparency and objectivity to the process, ensuring that an employee’s comprehensive performance is taken into account—not just the last quarter or final month before the review.

6. Improve, Expand, and Evolve Your Process

Chances are, you’re not going to get this right the first time. And that’s okay. 

Solicit and gather employee feedback in order to improve your process. Discover where the pain points are, then evolve your process to correct previous issues.

Continuous performance management is dynamic, and the evolution of your process should be as well. Welcome any adjustments and continue to evaluate your process over time.

Real-Time Performance Feedback Case Study

So what does implementing real-time performance management look like? 

NGM Biopharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Historically, NGM tracked mid-term and annual reviews with Microsoft Excel and Word. 

NGM always had a culture of continuous improvement and learning from mistakes, but feedback wasn’t being tracked. The organization needed a system to store and track continuous feedback so that it could be effectively leveraged for their mid-year and annual reviews. 

After implementing a performance management system, NGM’s performance management process now focuses on real-time performance management with a formal annual review and an informal mid-year conversation.

The annual review occurs at the end of the year and includes a self-review, a 360 review with three raters, and a meeting between employees and their managers. Because NGM has fully adopted a culture of continuous performance management, they can use the annual review meeting to focus on just three questions: 

  • What are you doing?
  • What areas of improvement do you want to have?
  • What do you want to continue doing, start doing, and work on? 

Meanwhile, the mid-year reviews are more casual and informal conversations between the manager and their direct reports and are not required to be recorded.

By setting up a system that solicits and stores feedback, NGM has found that they have more time to spend on training managers on how to provide feedback because they are spending less time on administrative tasks.

NGM has also seen how continuous performance management keeps the annual review process transparent and free of surprises. 

Kristen Townsend, Manager of Culture and Rewards at NGM, summed up the effectiveness of their new real-time performance feedback:

“Now that we have a process focused on continuous feedback, it creates an easier review cycle because nothing is new to the employee. I think the most impact has come from continuous feedback—having a platform that continues to support us on an ongoing basis helps everyone at NGM be more successful.”

Continuous Performance Management In PerformYard

Many organizations use PerformYard to easily manage real-time performance feedback. 

With PerformYard, you can request, store, and track any kind of feedback throughout your organization—360 feedback, weekly check-ins, continuous feedback, and more. 

All feedback is centrally located in PerformYard, so you won’t have to search through your email to find notes from past check-ins. You can easily pull up feedback from the entire year. 

And the best part? It’s extremely intuitive for employees to use. No matter how tech-comfortable your employees are, PerformYard is easy for everybody to navigate. It’s a simple, streamlined system that makes real-time performance management easier than ever before.

Streamline your continuous performance management process with PerformYard. Learn More

Resources for Continuous Feedback

Looking for additional resources? Here are some resources we recommend to start your search on continuous feedback.

The Value of Real-Time Feedback Tools

How To Create a Feedback Culture

What Is Continuous Feedback? Real-World Examples from Adobe & Typeform

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How Netflix does Performance Management

Netflix's no-holds-barred approach to HR has gained the attention of many. Here's how Netflix has overcome 4 common performance management challenges with their unique methods.

Netflix's no-holds-barred approach to HR has gained the attention of many. They’ve not only succeeded in retaining prime talent, but also in achieving a high-performance culture.

The methods Netflix applies could be called radical, but they address challenges that all organizations face. 

Below we’re sharing four common performance management challenges and how Netflix has overcome them.

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Challenge #1: Do as We Do, Not as We Say

According to Netflix, leaders and managers need to live and breathe company values into everything they do. Your mission statement and company values are not supposed to just sound nice, they’re supposed to be displayed throughout the work of your employees.

Netflix wants to strictly reward and promote employees that demonstrate its values and let go of those who don’t. It’s that simple, but it’s a big deal. 

This strategy works well for Netflix because of its strong, well-defined company culture. Netflix’s famous culture doc clearly outlines what the organization’s values are. 

If you want to set expectations around living company values and modeling behaviors at your organization, make sure your values are well-defined and communicated clearly to every employee.

Challenge #2: Feedback Is Given Too Late

Several years ago, Netflix revamped its performance management by completely doing away with annual performance evaluations. Instead, Netflix opts for a 360 degree review process

With this new structure, employees are advised by their colleagues on what they should stop doing, start doing, or continue doing. The reviews are frequent and informal. 

At first, the reviews were anonymous to avoid awkwardness. Netflix has since shifted to signed feedback, and most recently, face-to-face 360 reviews. Opting for full transparency, Netflix believes people can handle anything as long as they’re told the truth.

While this approach works well for Netflix’s employees, it may not be effective for certain organizations and specific job types. But there are several other feedback strategies to consider.

Many companies combine 360 feedback with traditional performance appraisals to ensure that participants receive the developmental feedback they need to flourish. Others write down 360 feedback, rather than delivering it in-person. Some don’t use 360 reviews at all, but provide frequent feedback using other methods. 

Ultimately, the most effective strategy for giving feedback will depend on the needs of your employees and organization.

Challenge #3 - Needing the Dream Team

Netflix believes that in order to build a dream team, an organization must “foster collaboration, embrace a diversity of viewpoints, support information sharing, and discourage politics.” 

The company’s goal is to have one large dream team full of highly effective collaborators who are incredible at what they do, rather than a few small groups spread throughout the company. This can’t be done without hiring well.

Managers use what they call a “keeper test” to build their team. Essentially, they’re asked the question: “Would you fight for that employee?” The end goal is to give ownership of building great teams back to managers.

Netflix itself acknowledges that being on the dream team isn’t for everyone. This approach isn’t right for companies whose orientation is more about stability, seniority, and working around inconsistent employee effectiveness.

Challenge #4 - Understanding the Full Context

Netflix wants its employees to think independently and make decisions on their own. 

At every level, the leader’s main job is to provide clear and complete context to create autonomous thinkers. With the right information, employees are given the confidence to make great decisions.

Former Chief Talent Officer and co-author of Netflix’s culture doc Patty McCord said, “The best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by settling the appropriate context, rather than by trying to control their people.” 

Netflix believes it is most effective and innovative when employees throughout the company make and own decisions, but that doesn’t work for every organization. Steve Jobs’s micromanagement is what made the iPhone a great product. 

Top-down models work for many companies, depending on what they’re working to accomplish. But at Netflix, managers provide a framework for employees to make their own decisions.

How Do Employees Feel About Netflix's Approach?

If you work at Netflix, it seems that getting fired is never really far from your mind. 

The keeper test in itself is not always a source of comfort for employees. Managers also say it makes them feel pressured to fire people or risk “looking soft”. 

According to Glassdoor, the culture of fear is actually one of the most frequent cons. Many employee reviews mention the highly competitive environment makes work-life balance difficult to achieve. 

Other cons focus mostly on the transparency of the 360 review process: learning the details about why someone was let go or watching the politics carried out after uncomfortable feedback is made public.

So how does Netflix maintain a seemingly average score? What are the pros that make working at Netflix a positive experience? 

Most reviewers seem happy about the perks: free lunch, free coffee, and flexible schedules. However, the most resounding pros listed repeatedly are compensation, freedom, and responsibility. 

Netflix’s theory of responsible people thriving on freedom really works here, and employees seem to love it.

Can the Netflix Approach Work for You?

Netflix holds strong to the belief that if you talk simply and honestly about performance on a regular basis, you can get good results. 

Opting for full transparency is certainly not for everyone, however. Employees chime in on the company’s path, price increases, logos . . . literally everything. 

But can Netflix’s approach work for other organizations? 

Ultimately, creating the best performance management strategy isn’t about copying Netflix. It’s about understanding the needs of your employees and organization.

McCord’s own advice would tell managers to think like business people and ask: “What’s good for the company?” 

If you’re ready to figure out what’s good for your company, check out our Guide to Creating a Modern Performance Management System. You’ll get a step-by-step plan that shows you how to diagnose your organization’s needs, and then how to build a performance management process that’s specific to your organization.

More Inspiration

Netflix is not the only organization creating its own performance management process. These days, many organizations are thinking critically about performance management and coming up with innovative processes. 

Here are a few more examples to inspire your own strategy:

Google’s Performance Management Playbook: Inspiration for Your Organization

How Does Uber Do Performance Management?

Deloitte's Radically Simple Review

How Does Amazon Do Performance Management

How Does GE Do Performance Management Today?

3 Approaches to Performance Management: Google, Betterment and IBM

How Does Facebook Do Performance Management?

Performance Management at Tesla: What We Know

How Regeneron Build their Performance Management System

How Does Asana Do Performance Management?

And if you're ready to take the next step, check out our guide to creating your own modern performance management process.

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Google’s Performance Management Playbook: Inspiration for Your Organization

Here’s an overview of Google’s performance management process to inspire ideas for performance management at your organization.

Google has been ranked by Glassdoor as one of the best places to work since 2013. As one employee said: “All of the good things people say are true—great culture, great pay and benefits, fun projects, and awesome offices.” 

That’s an enviable position that any company would like to hold, especially in an environment characterized by high turnover and growing employee dissatisfaction.

So what about Google helps it hold onto its position as a great place to work, even during the uncertainty of the great resignation? 

There’s a number of reasons, but its great performance management practices are high on the list.

Streamline your performance management process with PerformYard. Learn More

Google’s Performance Management Practices

Google has what some say is the world’s most progressive human resource organization. Its “People Operations Practice” includes a strong focus on a merit-based reward/incentive program and developing employees to reach their fullest potential.

google performance management

Google has a robust process full of performance management practices, including:


The employee evaluates themself on five criteria and highlights their main accomplishments for the last review cycle. This gives employees an opportunity to be introspective and also to give some consideration to their own performance in preparation for a discussion with their managers.

360-Degree Feedback

Employees and managers discuss and decide together who will provide 360-degree feedback for the employee. Peer feedback is sought for input on strengths, weaknesses, and contributions to specific projects. Having a broader range of input can help employees put the feedback into perspective and gain a more well-rounded sense of how their work is perceived.

Annual Performance Review

Google’s annual performance review is split into two parts: a mid-year checkpoint and end-of-year review.  The end-of-year review uses data from the employee’s self-assessment and the 360-degree feedback provided. Managers also draft a rating for employees as part of the annual performance review. Two main things are taken into account when assigning employee performance ratings:

  • Results attained, or what the employee accomplished
  • Behaviors, or how the employee attained these results 

These two factors help maintain a focus on both hard and soft skills as part of the annual review.

Monthly Performance Check-Ins

In addition to the mid-year and annual review, Google employees meet monthly with their managers for regular check-ins. These check-ins address career development, coaching, and an opportunity to address any personal issues. They facilitate open communication between employees and managers and help both parties stay on top of developing issues or need for course correction throughout the year.

Googlegeist Engagement Survey

The Googlegeist is an annual survey given to all employees where they are asked to rate their managers and life at Google. The survey allows leaders to manage and monitor trends as well as to make comparisons across the company to spot trends, best practices, and areas that may need attention.

Upward Feedback Survey

In addition to the Googlegeist for gathering broad input on employee sentiment, Google also conducts annual upward feedback surveys where direct reports have the opportunity to rate their managers. Like the Googlegeist, this input allows leaders to identify trends, best practices, and areas that may need attention or improvement.

OKRs: How Google Sets Goals

Every quarter, Google assigns about 4-6 Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to help provide the company with clear focus and to ensure that employees understand how their work impacts their work area and the company overall. OKRs also encourages team effort. Overall targets drive the creation of sub-objectives and are set annually. 


Google has a strong focus on meritocracy, striving to compensate people based on their contributions through bonuses, equity stock option grants, and prizes.

What Google Employees Are Saying

Google has a robust ​​performance management process that encourages employee engagement, feedback, and a strong performance culture. But what do its employees think? Let’s take a look at a few anonymous Glassdoor reviews to see what Google’s employees are saying. 


“The company is amazingly open: every week Larry Page and Sergey Brin host what's called TGIF where food and drinks are served, a new project is presented, and an open forum is held to ask the executives anything you want. It's truly fair game to ask anything, no matter how controversial.”

“Google has incredible resources for learning high-tech and managing teams. There is outstanding onboarding, process documentation, and shadowing for new joiners. The community of individuals is top-notch​​—amazingly smart, driven, and courteous colleagues.” 

“Google is a fantastic company with its heart in the right place. The real gem, though, are the people. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with some of the most incredible people on the planet.”


“Sometimes being that it is such a big company it is sometimes hard to be heard when you need to voice concerns or comments.”

“Product culture is bewildering sometimes.” 

“Very flat organization structure creates for highly ambiguous roles.”

Takeaways for Your Organization

Like any organization, Google has both its cheerleaders and its detractors. But Google generally has a great reputation among both employees and customers. 

So, what can you take away from Google’s practices to consider for your organization? Here are a few recommendations:

  • Google has “Googleyness”—it places a big focus on company values and how employees adhere to them.
  • Employees are heavily involved in the performance review process. They help decide who provides 360-degree feedback, set their own OKRs, and provide upward feedback to their managers.
  • The peer feedback process is simple and focuses only on strengths, weaknesses, and contributions to specific projects.
  • Google’s OKRs are shared publicly with the entire company—everybody knows how and where they fit in and have the opportunity to know what others are working on.
  • Upward feedback is used to give employees an opportunity to rate their managers.

Having a robust performance review process with a number of elements designed to provide feedback throughout the year, engage employees in the process, and ensure a well-rounded perspective of both employees and leadership have helped Google position itself as a place where employees have a voice and an opportunity to make a difference.  

More Inspiration

Looking for more inspiration and ideas for performance management at your organization? These articles show how other top companies do performance management.  

How Does Uber Do Performance Management?

How Does Asana Do Performance Management?

How Netflix does Performance Management

Deloitte's Radically Simple Review

How Does Amazon Do Performance Management

How Does GE Do Performance Management Today?

3 Approaches to Performance Management: Google, Betterment and IBM

How Does Facebook Do Performance Management?

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14 Types of Performance Appraisals for 2022

Here's a list of 14 of the most common performance evaluation methods, along with the pros and cons of each method.

There's nothing more fundamental to the success of an organization than employee performance. Maybe that’s why there’s a seemingly endless number of performance appraisal processes for evaluating, measuring, driving, and developing employee performance.

Because there are so many options, choosing the right performance appraisal approach for your organization can be daunting. 

What are the types of performance appraisal?

The PerformYard software platform has helped thousands of organizations run hundreds of performance management processes. In this article, we'll review 14 of the most common performance evaluation methods ranging from traditional methods of appraisals like competency assessments to more extreme appraisal techniques like human resource accounting. We’ll also share when it is most effective and appropriate to use each approach. 

When building out a complete performance management system, organizations will often choose to combine a few of the following appraisals. Be sure to think about what outcomes are most important to your organization when considering the following examples.

PerformYard makes it easy to run any type of performance appraisal process. Learn More

1. Check-Ins

Performance check-ins are often confused with other types of performance reviews, but they’re not exactly the same thing. Performance check-ins happen more often, they are more informal, and they give managers the opportunity to build rapport and find out what employees are working on between cycles.

Check-ins can have set agendas or be completely open-ended. Most often, employees and managers will discuss progress towards company goals, overall performance since the last check-in, and the employee’s aspirations.

The primary role of check-ins is to create a consistent time and space for discussions about long-term performance. Managers should consistently take notes after check-ins throughout the year. Then when employee reviews come around, managers can use notes from check-ins to evaluate the employee’s performance and guide the conversation. 

Documenting the check-in is vital to the success of the performance review. PerformYard's software can remind you about check-ins and store the goal updates and discussion points. The image below shows how check-in data is stored in PerformYard where it can be referenced in quarterly or annual reviews.

performance appraisal

When to Use Check-Ins

Check-ins are less complex than many types of performance appraisals, but more frequent. They usually take place between more intensive appraisal processes to spread out performance discussions throughout the year without overburdening employees and the organization. 

2. 360 Feedback

360 feedback involves getting broad feedback from an employee’s coworkers. This can mean peer reviews, self-reviews, manager-reviews, secondary manager reviews, or upward reviews. PerformYard gathers 360 review responses and stores them in the employee's review dashboard for easy access, as seen in the image below.

360 types of performance appraisal
PerformYard's 360 Review Feature

The idea is to increase the sources of feedback in order to get a more accurate and holistic view of employee performance. 360 feedback will often be open-ended or thematic with the employee’s manager reviewing and aggregating the feedback into a single more cohesive picture of performance.

PerformYard makes it easy to run any type of performance appraisal process. Learn More

When to Use 360 Feedback

360 feedback is a great option for when employees regularly work collaboratively on different teams. 

When an employee’s primary role is working with others outside the view of their manager, 360 reviews can bring up feedback that might not otherwise be raised. Peers are often hesitant to give negative feedback outside of a formal context, but 360 reviews provide that context.

360 reviews can be a great source of feedback, but they also require a lot of coordination. The administration of 360 feedback can be a burden on both managers and employees, so it’s important to have a process in place for every stage of the 360 process.

Another key to successful 360 reviews is to train everybody in the organization to deliver effective feedback. When employees don’t have experience giving feedback, what they share may be more destructive than constructive. Giving effective feedback is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced.

3. Narrative Appraisals or Essay Appraisals

As its name suggests, the narrative performance appraisal (or essay appraisal) is created when a manager writes a freeform essay about an employee’s performance over a specific review period. 

Essay appraisals allow reviewers to discuss anything they feel is pertinent to the employee without being locked into certain questions. 

In a perfect world, this approach would allow managers to focus on exactly what an employee needs to hear and provide the most relevant feedback. But in reality, managers don’t always express themselves clearly. Essay appraisals can leave employees feeling confused on where they stand. 

The narrative appraisal is also customized to each employee, which makes it nearly impossible to make comparisons across employees. Essay appraisals are often paired with another appraisal method, such as graphic scale rating, to draw more accurate conclusions. 

When to Use Narrative or Essay Appraisals

Essay appraisals are best for employees with loosely defined jobs or who do very individualized creative work. If it's hard to quantify the inputs and outputs of employees’ work or you feel like every employee would need their own custom appraisal questions in order to get relevant feedback, the narrative appraisal could be right for you.

But a word of caution: essay appraisals can quickly get off the rails and become unnecessarily complex. Setting a standard for the style and length of essay appraisals can help keep reviewers on track.  

4. Competency Assessment

Competency assessments measure an employee’s capabilities against their critical job skills. These assessments show the gaps between where an employee needs to be and where they are now.

Competency assessments often flow naturally into a concrete learning plan focused on the competencies with gaps. 

This type of appraisal can be conducted in a variety of ways: through observation, interviews, or forms. The key is to choose the right competencies for every role at your organization.

When to Use Competency Assessments

Competency assessments are great for jobs where success is dependent on well-understood skills. It usually helps to have many employees in a similar role so that you can begin to understand the competencies that matter through experience. 

Focusing on a specific set of competencies can lead you down the road of only recognizing employees who succeed in one specific type of way. Employees who drive great outcomes but do so in unexpected ways may find it difficult to progress when they are evaluated on competencies, rather than outcomes.

To combat this issue, Western National Insurance Group paired competency assessments with open-ended questions, such as:

  • What is the employee doing well?
  • What are some of their notable accomplishments?
  • What do they still need to work on?
  • What stretch goals are they working on to improve?

They then track responses to both competency assessments and open-ended questions using performance management software.

5. Project-Based Reviews

Project-based reviews are unique in that they focus on the most recent work an employee has completed. These reviews include questions that are directly related to an employee’s contribution to a project. 

Feedback cycles can be quicker with project-based reviews, as projects often cycle more frequently than traditional review cycles. Because of the frequency, it’s important to have a system that helps project-based reviews run smoothly.  

When project-based reviews are used, employees have the opportunity to receive and internalize feedback before getting into the next project where they can then demonstrate any improvements.

When to Use Project-Based Reviews

Project-based reviews are best for companies that work on distinct projects one at a time (or almost one at a time). These reviews work best when these projects last from a few weeks to a few months. Typical examples are accounting audit teams, consulting teams, and some types of law firms. 

Project-based reviews are especially useful when organizations are bringing together new groups of employees for each project.

6. Stack Ranking Appraisals

Stack rankings and forced distributions are a controversial method of performance appraisals that rely on ranking employees against each other.

Sometimes this is a top to bottom list, and sometimes it’s sorting employees into buckets of high-performing, low-performing, and the middle with quotas for each. 

Rankings force managers to differentiate between employees to find out which ones actually have the highest performance. It also makes it very clear where employees stand in relation to their peers.

When used in combination with continuous feedback and tracked in a system like PerformYard, stack rankings can be a powerful tool to create a more productive workforce overall.

When to Use Ranking Appraisals

Ranking appraisals can work great for competitive environments like up-or-out consulting firms. In these situations, everybody knows they need to be a top performer to stay with the firm, so it’s healthier to make this process transparent and open.

Forced distributions can also be a useful approach in the short-term for organizations that have become stagnant and are being dragged down by low performers. Sometimes letting employees who have checked-out move on to a new job and bringing in fresh talent is the best decision for everybody involved. 

Rankings are not great for companies that are focused on innovation or creativity, as moments of creativity can be uneven and unpredictable. Pushing employees out after one underperforming year probably doesn’t make sense in that context. 

Stack ratings also aren’t great for organizations that need to be extremely collaborative, as they create tension and competitiveness between employees.

7. Grading/Rating Appraisals

In a grading/rating performance appraisal, managers use a numerical (1-5) or descriptive scale to record an employee’s performance in specific areas of their job. 

Because they are easy to fill out and create quantitative data, rating appraisals are very popular.

One of the keys to rating appraisals is making sure managers aren’t just doing the minimum amount of work necessary to get them done without having the difficult and important conversations needed to accompany these types of appraisals. 

Ratings send a very clear message of where an employee stands, but do a very poor job of telling an employee where they need to go. Companies may choose to combine ratings with qualitative comments and feedback to give employees a clear understanding of why they received the ratings they did. Ratings can be useful for seeing how employees stack up against each other. PerformYard's reporting software can show ratings with clear visuals, as in the below example.

When to Use Grading/Rating Appraisals

Rating scales work well at organizations that need to create more accountability because it’s impossible to spin a low rating. 

Ratings feedback is quantitative, but organizations can struggle to stay organized and manage the data. It’s important to have a system to manage all of the feedback received from rating appraisals so you can make full use of this approach.

PerformYard makes it easy to run any type of performance appraisal process. Learn More

If you’re wondering whether or not you should implement rating appraisals, remember that you'll need to do more than just tell employees they’re underperforming if you want them to step up their game. Analyzing performance data and helping employees understand where they can improve is key. 

8. Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (also known as BARS) uses behavior “statements” as a reference point for rankings. BARS measures employee performance against specific examples of behavior that are given a number ranking. See below for performance appraisal examples from the BARS system.

For example, a pizza place could use a Level 1 ranking to describe an employee who takes more than 10 minutes to make a pizza, while a Level 5 ranking would describe an employee who makes a pizza in under 5 minutes.

BARS is helpful because it combines qualitative and quantitative assessments. The behavioral definitions can also aid in eliminating ranking bias.

When to Use BARS

Because BARS creates the ability to design a unique performance management experience for every position within an organization, it’s typically best for organizations that have groups of positions or departments made up of similar types of jobs. 

BARS is also helpful for companies that struggle with bias challenges in their current performance management process. The emphasis on behavior produces objective ratings that are difficult to distort.

One of the biggest challenges of BARS is being able to articulate exactly what great performance looks like in advance. Using BARS may mean that you have people who live up to your expectations, but not people who surprise you and surpass your expectations in new ways.

9. External/Client Appraisals

External and client appraisals involve bringing in third parties from outside the company to help with performance reviews. 

For employees that primarily engage with customers or clients, this can be the most important source of feedback.

When to Use External/Client Appraisals

Client appraisals are great for service roles where an employee's primary job is to interact with customers. Gig-economy companies like Uber rely exclusively on client appraisals to manage their contract workforce.

External appraisals are also a good option for employees that work as closely with a client as they do with their coworker, like a consultant on site with a client for an extended period.

Keeping track of the process is one of the most challenging aspects of client appraisals. Managers and HR professionals have enough on their plate without emailing questions, sending reminders, and following up with clients to keep the process moving. 

If you’re considering client appraisals, make sure you have a process in place to keep track of all of the moving parts.

10. Management by Objectives (MBO)

Management by objectives (MBO) measure employee performance by how employees achieve specific objectives. These objectives are decided on with equal input from employees and managers. 

Effective objectives should align with organizational goals. Managers and employees should equally participate and communicate to ensure the objectives are met.

When to Use MBO

MBO can be an effective method for many organizations. This method isn’t difficult to implement and can truly suit the needs of most organizations without incurring major costs.

The most difficult part of MBO is the communication required. 

To set and achieve successful goals, a substantial amount of input and feedback is needed from both managers and employees. 

It’s helpful to have all of this feedback stored in one place for both parties to refer back to. This helps managers and employees easily track progress and see what’s needed to meet the objectives.

11. Checklist Appraisals

In checklist appraisals, managers are asked to answer “yes” or “no” to a series of questions or statements about an employee. These appraisals tend to be easy to complete and can help an employee know where they stand across a broad set of domains.

Google famously uses this approach to review their managers. Employees answer yes or no for a long list of actions Google believes good managers should be taking with their reports.

When to Use Checklist Appraisals

Because checklist appraisals are binary, they’re best used for traits where levels of gray are less important. Checklists are also great when you need to provide a lot of feedback in many areas but need to keep the appraisal easy to complete. 

A major con of checklist appraisals is that they don’t allow for explanations or detailed answers. This method is most effective when combined with a more detailed method, such as narrative appraisals. 

12. Critical Incident Appraisals

For critical incident appraisals, managers keep a log of specific examples of both negative and positive behavior exhibited by employees. The standard for behavior can be based on company values or an employee’s job description. 

After a period of time, managers and employees meet to discuss the log and evaluate performance. A continuous log makes sure that performance reviews focus equally on performance across the year and concrete moments, rather than general sentiments.

When to Use Critical Incident Appraisals

Critical incident appraisals are simply descriptions of events and that can make it hard to compare employees or make decisions based on them. 

They can also be overwhelming and hard to interpret. We recommend pairing critical incident appraisals with some sort of quantitative method.

13. Human Resource Accounting / Cost Accounting

Also called cost accounting, human resource accounting analyzes an employee’s performance through the monetary gains they bring to the organization vs. the cost to retain the employee. 

When to Use Human Resource Accounting

Human resource accounting is most useful when employee contributions and costs are measurable. This can happen in situations where executives are judged on their P&L, or for positions like sales where the ultimate measure of success is revenue generated.

Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to perfectly understand all of the costs and benefits an employee has on an organization. Human resource accounting also doesn’t account for technology, which can greatly reduce the overall costs in an organization by automating processes that were previously done by employees. 

14. Psychological Appraisals

Psychological appraisals are unique in that they consider an employee’s future performance, rather than focusing on their past. 

In this appraisal, psychologists look at the employee’s internal traits and qualities that could affect their performance in the future. 

The psychologists can look at specific scenarios when performing their appraisal to discover how an employee is likely to perform in similar scenarios in the future.

When to Use Psychological Appraisals

Psychological appraisals can help organizations see employees’ potential. They can be used in specific scenarios, such as determining which employees should be pushed toward leadership roles or managing reorganizations of the org chart.

While useful, psychological appraisals can be time-consuming and costly, especially for small organizations. They are also difficult for organizations to manually administer. There is also controversy over how well the psychological traits will actually predict future performance as people are not static.

Choosing an Approach and Next Steps

Hopefully you’ve been inspired by one or more of the types of appraisals we’ve outlined above. Which ones you choose to implement will all depend on the needs of your own organization. We have a number of other articles that can help you determine which is the best fit and how to implement it: 

No matter what direction you take, it’s vitally important to get your process right. Most appraisals fail because employees resent how cumbersome and irrelevant they are. Choosing the right type of appraisal should make them more relevant, but you still need to make them more streamlined.

Look for ways to automate form assignments and generate real-time alerts for employees when they need to complete self or manager review forms. 

Simplify the sign-off flows so everyone knows when a form is ready for sign-off and can easily send forms back for changes.

Track cycle progress so you can quickly intervene when managers are falling behind; even better, automate reminders.

The more you can rely on a well-designed system to run your review process, the less you’ll force your managers to deal with the administrative minutia they resent.

Once you’ve nailed the approach and the process, you’ll be well on your way to effective performance appraisals.

See how organizations use PerformYard to streamline their processes. Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best form of performance appraisal?

The best performance appraisal is the one that serves your organization’s needs. If you’re just getting started, consider a narrative appraisal with a few simple rating questions that focus on overall performance.

What type of performance review provides the best feedback?

Checklist appraisals can provide a broad array of feedback quickly, however, for the best overall feedback, it’s hard to beat a well-written narrative review. Unfortunately, not all managers will take the time to write comprehensive and thoughtful narrative reviews.

What is the best way to evaluate employee performance?

If you’re looking to generate quantitative data on employee performance, consider using ratings appraisals that ask simple questions managers likely already have conviction around. Good questions include, “Is this employee ready for promotion?” and “How hard would you fight to keep this employee at our organization?”

What should I include in a performance evaluation?

One thing to include in every performance evaluation is space for context and ways for the employee to improve their performance going forward. It’s important that employees have enough information to understand their feedback and know what to do with it.

What is the most common performance appraisal method?

Formal check-ins, narrative appraisals, and competency assessments are the three most common appraisal methods used today.

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Best Goal Management Software for 2022: Top Tools to Track Goals

Goal setting is one of the cornerstones of organizational and individual development in the workplace.

Goal setting is one of the cornerstones of organizational and individual development in the workplace. But setting goals is simply the first step in the process of achieving results. Progress needs to be measured, goals need to be met, and shortcomings need to be examined. 

The best way to ensure that your organization is completing its goals is through goal management software. Choosing the right goal management software for your organization often boils down to understanding what you want to focus on: performance management, project management, goal tracking, individual development, or something more generalized. 

To help you sort through which software is best for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best goal management software, broken down into categories based upon function. As you start setting organizational goals for 2022, you can use these goal management software systems to help measure your progress through next year and beyond. 

Let’s take a look at the best goal management software systems we’ve found. 

Performance Management Systems

Performance Management Software allows organizations to easily evaluate employee performance through a host of goal-setting features, check-ins, performance reviews, and data analysis. In a nutshell, this software lets you connect goal-setting with the formal review process in a single space. 

PerformYard's performance management system is easy, flexible and fast.Learn More

Instead of using one piece of software to track goal progress and another software to set up, fill out, and track employee reviews; you can use one program to run both. This reduces time spent ferrying information from one software to another come review time, and it reduces the likelihood that information will get lost in the shuffle.

Performance management software excels in supporting cascading goals for your company, tracking KPIs for employees, and driving employee development by connecting goal tracking to employee performance reviews. Employees see how attaining concrete goals equates to positive performance feedback, which ultimately drives positive compensation decisions. 

One of the great aspects of performance management software is that you can track goals at all different levels of your organization -- from the team to the individual -- across monthly, quarterly, and annual bases. This flexible approach to performance management allows you to tailor the software to your organization’s needs -- expanding or contracting the goal setting and review processes as you see fit.  


Performance Management Software is one of the most robust and integrated types of goal management software on the market. One of its key selling points is its ability to connect goal management with performance evaluation. Let’s take a look at other key features that make performance management systems some of our favorite softwares for goal setting. 

Integrate Goals into Performance Review

The primary goal management feature of performance management software is the ability for employees and managers to set trackable, quantifiable goals that are easily integrated into the performance review process. Employees set reviews and update their progress throughout the year. Managers, conversely, can see their employees’ progress on their goals, and easily bring the completion of goals into review decisions. 

manage individual goals

See goals and objectives alongside reviews with PerformYard.Learn More

This is the heart of performance management review. Employees are empowered to set individual goals and then are held accountable for those goals come review time.

Flexible Feedback

With performance management systems, managers can customize the feedback process to turn goals into positive day-to-day actions. Feedback can be provided annually, quarterly, and monthly; but it can also be provided on a continuous basis and for specific projects. 

This ability to scale up feedback can increase productivity through positive encouragement and shout-outs; it can also help draw attention to areas that need more attention before these become significant problems. In this way, continuous feedback prevents surprises come annual review time.

PerformYard lets you save feedback notes and use them during the formal review process.Learn More

Streamline Your Processes 

Performance Management Systems automate and integrate so many steps in your goal setting and performance review process. Goals are set and managed within the system that handles reviews, so examining pertinent goal data for a review is a breeze. Goal setting itself can be further streamlined through automatically messaging and reminding employees that goals need to be set, along with further messages that remind employees of their goal completion progress.

The review process itself can easily be streamlined through customizing permissions and automations -- reducing the back-and-forth needed to nominate reviewers, complete reviews, and set up in-person check-ins. By automatically sending necessary forms and goal information to appropriate parties, Performance Management Systems can further cut down on unnecessary layers of red tape. 

Performance Management Systems: Our Picks

Performance Management Systems are robust softwares that automate and streamline your goal management process. Here are out top two choices for Performance Management Systems.


PerformYard creates a custom performance management system that works for you. 

From continuous feedback to annual goal-setting meetings, PerformYard measures progress and gets your whole organization on track with goals.

PerformYard really shines when it comes to the sheer amount of customization it offers clients. You have the flexibility to structure your review process as holistic as you’d like, from simple manager-direct hire reviews to 360 feedback processes. You can create cascading goals that communicate your company-wide strategy from the executive suite to the most junior position, and ensure that individual goals support your vision. 

The data insights that PerformYard provides at the individual, team, and company level help your organization get a crystal-clear picture of your present performance as well as your performance over time. 

goal management software performyard

Find out how PerformYard can streamline performance management at your organization.Learn More

These data-powered insights, along with a streamlined and customizable review process and an integrated goal management system, make PerformYard the best performance management software on the market. 

Read how Investinet used PerformYard to keep their teams running in the same direction.

Performance Pro

PerformancePro is another formidable Performance Management System that streamlines your entire performance management process. From check-ins to annual reviews, PerformancePro automates and integrates each step of your review cycle. 

PerformancePro stands out with their unique configurable goal library that lets you tie compensation to goal achievement through merit increase modeling.

Performance Management Systems Tie Goals to Reviews 

Performance Management Systems like PerformYard excel by tying goal setting and goal completion to performance reviews. These types of software are ideal for any organization looking to streamline their review process, gain insights into employee productivity, and turn the abstract concept of goal setting into a critical part of employee development. 

Project Management Software

Project Management Software breaks goals into smaller tasks that employees can track from inception to completion. 

So if your team is working on something complicated, like producing the Super Bowl, you can use project Management Software to break this up into smaller tasks (complete Dr. Dre’s contract), and then track those tasks as you complete them. 

Project Management Software is ideal when you need to focus on organizing, tracking, and completing projects -- particularly projects involving multiple colleagues. These are project-based goals, as opposed to developmental goals or quota-based goals. 

Developmental goals (I want to take 5 LinkedIn courses in my field this month) or quota-based goals (I need to hit $300,000 in sales this year) aren’t trackable in project management software. Instead, the individual projects and steps that make up these goals (complete demo for prospect, send contract to client) are the focus of project management software. 

Therefore, we believe that project management software is a good goal management option for organizations who have a strong focus on completing projects -- particularly projects that require large teams working together. 

Project management software can also complement other forms of goal management software such as performance management systems. Your overarching, yearly goals can be comprised of projects that you can track through project management systems. It all depends upon your organizational needs. 


Project Management Software excels at helping multiple teammates collaborate on their projects. Let’s take a look at some of the key features that help teams collaborate to break projects into manageable tasks. 

To-Do Lists and Team Assignments

Project management software revolves around to-dos -- be they lists, cards, or tasks. On a user’s project board, to-do lists (comprised of tasks) can be assigned to different teammates, moved between teammates, and moved between different steps of completion. This helps all teammates understand who is working on what, what still needs to be completed, and what can be marked as completed. 

Team Communication

Project management software enables easy communication between teammates. In project dashboards, teammates can comment, attach files, affix due dates, and provide updates on each task within the goal. These updates are often automatically communicated via email or a messaging software, such as Slack, to ensure that no update is missed. 

Project Management Software: Our Picks 

Two project management software suites stand out to us: Asana and Trello. Let’s take a quick look at each to see which project management system may be best for you. 


Asana is a project management tool best at showing how team goals ladder up to organizational goals. In Asana, you have a centralized screen for each project -- and projects are comprised of tasks that you move from “ready-to-do” to “done.” Asana has some unique ways of viewing tasks, such as in list, board, calendar, and timeline view. Additionally, Asana has an inbox feature where all of your notifications related to projects are stored. 


Trello is a flexible task management system that stores projects on boards. Each board is comprised of columns (to-do, doing, done), and your columns are populated by “cards,” which equate to tasks you must complete to finish your project. Workflow-wise, it is quite similar to Asana. 

Asana does offer more features, but Trello’s free plan is available to unlimited teammates, while Asana’s free plan is only available to 15 teammates per organization.

HR Suites

HR suites are one-stop-shops for everything HR. This means compensation, time off, recruiting, onboarding, and performance management are all housed in one single portal. 

HR suites can be a godsend for a company looking to centralize a lot of disparate features. It is very helpful to have all your HR data housed in one piece of software. When it comes to goal management, however, we’ve found that HR suites are not as robust as the dedicated goal management softwares. Goal management isn’t the focus of these softwares; it just happens to be one feature.  

Having said that, if you’re looking to incorporate goal management into your organization -- and you already have one of these fine HR suites -- then trialing out goal management through your HR suite is a great idea. 


HR suites are one-stop-shops for everything HR for the entire lifecycle of the employee. This means hiring, onboarding, compensation, and employee development. 

As mentioned, the key feature is that this is a one-login solution for HR. You don’t need a separate system for applicant tracking, a separate system to process PTO requests, and a separate system to track goal setting. You log in to your HR suite, and you are all set. 

Because these suites cover such a vast amount of ground, they also collect a great deal of data, meaning that they can provide quite robust data analytics, as they pull from so many departments. 

There are two HR suites that have goal management tools that are worth examining: BambooHR and Sage HR. 

Let’s take a quick look at each.

Bamboo HR

BambooHR calls itself HR software with heart. It helps you through your entire employee lifecycle -- from hiring to performance management. As a one-stop-shop, it functions a little as a jack-of-all-trades, and therefore markets itself to small-and-medium businesses. This makes sense, as it allows small-to-medium businesses to handle all of their HR needs without buying a whole host of specialized software. 

For goal management, BambooHR specializes in reports. BambooHR provides managers with status reports for each employee’s goals, and it offers company-wide performance reports. It’s ideal for getting an objective view of how your employees are performing relative to their goals. 

Sage HR

Sage HR is a complete HR solution that aims to automate your HR processes and provide you with valuable data insights. It lets you handle PTO requests, track overtime, manage employee shift schedules, manage company expenses, and manage goals. 

Sage HR’s performance management software lets you break goals into three levels: individual, team, and organizational. Like BambooHR, you can track how these goals are being achieved at all three levels, providing you with some nice clarity as to the productivity of your organization. 

Goal Tracking Software

Goal Tracking Software is designed purely for tracking goals -- with no connection to performance management. These types of software can track a variety of goals such as OKRs and S.M.A.R.T. goals. We’ve found that these softwares are ideal for companies who are deeply committed to tracking and completing goals, but are less interested in tying goal completion to the formal performance review process. 


Goal tracking software is a great way to align team goals and employee performance with a company’s vision. Goal tracking software achieves this by sharing your company strategy across the company in a central location. From there, teams and individuals can set and track goals that align with the company vision. 

These goal tracking softwares allow management to examine the goals of teams and individuals, so that your organization can see how team members' progress contributes to your overarching goals. In some cases, you can make every employee’s goals and progress viewable to their respective team or entire organization, providing transparency for your organization. 

There are two stand out goal tracking software systems we’ve found: Perdoo and Ally.

Let’s take a look at both. 


Perdoo is an OKR platform that promises to turn strategy into results. With Perdoo, you can share your organizational strategy, align your overarching goals with individual goals, and gain valuable data insights thanks to their robust reporting.

Perdoo also has a visual strategy planner, and lets you combine KPIs with OKRs to create detailed and focused goals. Perdoo also prompts weekly check-ins so employees are aligned on their progress for their individual goals. 

Ally (recently acquired by Microsoft) wants to turn your goals into results. Like Perdoo, it focuses on aligning your team with the grand company strategy. Where Ally differs from Perdoo is with their target: Ally is aimed at helping remote and hybrid teams stay aligned through the use of custom OKRs and integrations into apps such as Trello, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. 

Personal Apps

Our last category of apps are Personal Goal Tracking Apps -- we’ll call them personal apps for short. 

These apps are not organization-wide apps. They’re not great for setting a company strategy, tracking performance for a team, or helping in compensation discussions at a year end review. Instead, personal apps are used for setting and achieving personal apps. 

These apps don’t even need to be work related! They could be about running a marathon, learning a new language, or just getting more consistent at cleaning the house. 

Let’s take a look at how these apps function. 


Personal apps provide easy-to-use and mobile-friendly interfaces that enable you to set and track goals quickly and easily. 

What type of goals? Saving money, training for a race, getting enough sleep, writing a novel -- any goal you can think of! 

These goals are typically broken down into daily progress that you track and input (how many miles did you run today?) that you can visualize across a calendar to see how your progress stacks up. 

Two of our favorite Goal Management Softwares are Strides and Habitica. 

Let’s see how they stack up. 


Strides (iOS) is a popular goal tracking app that helps you track your goals and build your perfect routine -- one that gets you in the habit of achieving your goals. It allows you to track four different types of goals: Habits, Targets, Averages, and Projects. These types are customizable, so that you can modify their names and tasks to fit the goal you wish to achieve.


Habitica (iOS, Android) turns your goal into a game -- literally! Completing tasks in Habitica levels up your retro 8-bit avatar. When you level up enough, you unlock rewards such as gold and battle armor. Then, you can battle monsters in-game with your fellow Habitica players or spend your gold on more tangible rewards like streams of your favorite TV shows. 

Performance Management Software: The Integrated Solution to Goal Management

Performance management software integrates goal management seamlessly into your employee review process. This way, you tie the completion of the goal into a tangible result, which both motivates goal completion and provides deeper employee development. 

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Related Questions

What Should I Look For in Goal Management Software?

Don’t get lost focusing on features you don’t need. Consider whether you want to tie goals to performance management, list subgoals for a project, or visualize your organization’s progress. Then, look for a software that provides the reports you’ll need.

Why Should I Use Goal Management Software?

Goal management software is more efficient than spreadsheets and email chains. Software gives your team accountability and offers features like progress visualization and feedback.

What Goals Should I Put In My Goal Management Software?

Goal management software can be used for any type of goal, be it project, performance, or personal. The best goal management tools can handle any goal that your organization needs to track.

Does Goal Management Software Increase Productivity?

Yes. Goal management software allows your employees to spend less time managing goals and more time achieving them.

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HR’s Guide to Effective Performance Reviews

A great performance review cycle can calibrate employee performance, identify top performers, reward excellent work, and help a company in its strategic planning.

Few company-wide strategies are so critical, yet ineffectively implemented as performance reviews. 

A great performance review cycle can calibrate employee performance, identify top performers, reward excellent work, and help a company in its strategic planning. 

On the other hand, poorly implemented performance reviews can lead to confusion, frustration, endless meetings, and a real dip in company performance.

So how can you ensure that your organization implements effective performance reviews?

As you develop or update your performance review cycle, there are a number of steps you can take to focus, modernize, and streamline performance reviews so that each review cycle works for your employees.

We’ll take a look at those steps in this article to help you create and implement effective performance reviews.

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What Makes an Effective Performance Review?

Effective performance reviews don’t just happen—they are the product of thoughtful and proactive systems that stress objectivity, achievement, and transparency.

When aligned, they powerfully reinforce good performance and help course correct where necessary.

Below are seven components of an effective performance review for your organization to consider. 

1. Reviews Should Be Frequent

Ineffective performance reviews happen rarely or sporadically, leaving employees surprised when suboptimal performance is called out months after an event occurred. Effective performance reviews happen frequently and build upon each other.

In an effective review, excellent performance is reinforced and feedback is given to correct suboptimal performance. Employees then have a chance to correct their mistakes and discuss progress by the next review.

Frequent performance reviews help employees feel more comfortable discussing goals, receiving feedback, and talking about performance. 

2. Reviews Should Be Objective and Performance-Oriented

Effective performance reviews should leave little room for interpretation and should be based on specific criteria, rather than opinions or feelings.

To ensure objective reviews, an organization may develop performance review rubrics that can be consistently used across the company. These rubrics should grade employee performance and competencies, not personalities.

3. Reviews Should Incorporate Goals

Performance reviews take place to help employees drive positive change. Goals are the best way to ensure that change actually takes place. 

Ideally, direct reports and managers will work together after a performance review takes place to set achievable goals that will guide an employee’s development. These goals should then be discussed and followed-up on during check-ins and subsequent reviews. 

Performance reviews and goal setting come together to create a system where performance is discussed, next steps are agreed on, and progress is reviewed.

4. Reviews Should Be Transparent

Performance reviews shouldn’t hold any surprises for employees. Managers can improve transparency by sharing rubrics and evaluation questions ahead of performance reviews. This helps employees understand ahead of time where their manager believes their strengths and weaknesses lie and gives them time to prepare for a discussion. 

Transparency also builds trust between a manager and employee. When performance reviews are transparent, employees know how their manager views their performance and clearly understand where expectations lie. 

5. Reviews Should Be Conversational

Every performance review should be a two-way conversation. Reviews are not inquisitions—they are opportunities to look back on past performance and position an employee for optimal future performance. This is best achieved by striking a conversational tone.

Managers should begin performance reviews by asking the employee how they think their performance has been or to highlight their wins and their shortcomings. Once the review is underway, managers can add in their findings. 

6. Reviews Should Take a Holistic Approach to Feedback

Most reviews are made up of two parts: self-evaluations and manager evaluations. Depending on your organization, this may be the best way to evaluate an employee. But many organizations are supplementing these two components with peer feedback. 

Combining feedback from multiple peers and stakeholders (also known as 360 reviews) allows managers, employees, and organizations to get a holistic view of how an employee’s performance impacts the company. This holistic view helps managers and HR make more objective decisions about scoring and compensation, leading to improved employee morale.

7. Reviews Should End With a Clear Understanding of the Future

An effective performance review should end with a good plan of action for future performance. 

Coming out of a review, employees should understand their strengths, weaknesses, and what’s expected of them in the future.

In turn, managers should provide employees with actionable ways that performance can be improved, as well as an appropriate timeline for improvement.

Tips for an Effective Performance Review

As HR manages the entire performance review process, it’s critical to train managers on how to complete performance reviews effectively.

Ideally, you should hold training sessions with managers throughout the year to provide clarity on what is expected of them during performance review cycles.

Here are some tips that you should communicate to managers that will help make their performance reviews as effective as possible.

Set Expectations Early

We believe that an effective performance review is a continual process, not a one-day meeting.

Managers and employees should meet at the beginning of the year to set goals and expectations. Expectations should be crystal clear.

Then, when quarterly or end-of-year performance reviews come around, the conversations should reflect the effort and feedback that was given over a period of time.

Use Performance Notes as a Guide

Managers should not leave a performance review to the mercy of their memory. 

Instead, managers need to take notes throughout the performance cycle on their direct report’s performance—both positive and negative.

This will ensure that an employee’s strengths and weaknesses are accurately and fairly incorporated into the review.

Give Specific Feedback

Specific feedback ensures that the review is objective. 

Instead of saying, “You don’t check your work before you send it in,” a manager could say, “When you turned in that PowerPoint on spending in our department, there were some incorrect figures and a few spelling mistakes. It is important that you check your work in the future.”

This allows direct reports to better internalize feedback and sets them up to make necessary changes in order to improve performance.

Managers should be sure to call out specific wins. When employees see their performance being recognized, they understand that their hard work directly benefits the company. This encourages positive future performance.

Encourage a Discussion 

Reviews should be a discussion, not an interrogation. 

Ideally, the employee should lead the conversation, or at least direct the conversation around their own strengths and weaknesses. 

This can be accomplished by a manager asking open-ended questions to get the employee to arrive at conclusions on their own.

Managers shouldn’t be silent during a review. They should affirm conclusions that seem accurate and push back on conclusions that don’t seem correct.

By the end of the discussion, both parties should feel that their views have been heard and acknowledged.

Effective performance reviews are critical for identifying and rewarding top talent, recalibrating employee performance, and guiding company strategy.

With some foresight and proactive planning, HR can create an effective performance review process that emphasizes frequent meetings, stresses objectivity, and incorporates holistic feedback.

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Why Is Performance Management Important?

An effective performance management system reduces turnover, lowers liability risk, and improves organizational alignment.

Over the last few years, major companies like Adobe, Deloitte, and GE have abandoned traditional methods and created their own performance management processes—bringing performance management to the forefront of many organizations’ minds. 

But performance management can be a big investment. Why should an organization invest time and resources into performance management? What difference does it make?

In this article, we’ll provide a framework for why performance management matters and discuss how implementing a strong performance management process can benefit any organization.

Performance Management Reduces Turnover

An effective performance management system can help with many of the reasons turnover occurs—unrealistic workloads, unclear expectations, poor compensation, lack of feedback, and limited opportunities for progression.

Today’s employees are making it loud and clear that development matters to them. If they aren’t given opportunities to learn and grow, they won’t hesitate to look elsewhere for those opportunities. 

Even prior to the pandemic and the “great resignation,” research from organizations like Gartner were pointing to the “lack of future career development” as a key driver of employee attrition. In fact, Gartner’s Talent Monitor report indicated that this was a factor reported by 40% of departing employees.

Performance management offers a formal opportunity for managers and employees to have conversations not just about past performance, but about future opportunities based on employees’ interests and competencies.

Performance Management Reduces Liability Risk

When organizations have a centralized and consistent process for performance management across the organization, they minimize the risk that can come from the following:

A Lack of Objective Criteria

The inconsistency that comes when managers are allowed to create their own criteria or opt out on evaluating employees entirely can lead to trouble across an organization. 

Managers need to use objective criteria to evaluate employee performance. The organization (and its HR department) needs to be able to trust that evaluations are based on consistency criteria to support decisions related to promotions, disciplines, and even termination.

Failure to Use Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is an important part of the performance management process, allowing employees to share insights into their own perceptions of their performance, strengths, and areas of opportunity for improvement. These assessments may be skipped in an effort to reduce administrative costs, which can lead to potential risk. 

If an employee has documented areas of concern related to their own performance that are consistent with areas of concern noted by managers, a disciplinary or termination decision can be readily justified. But when self-assessment is lacking, this justification can be much more difficult to support.

A Lack of Transparency

It’s impossible to understand the risks of a performance management process when the steps, criteria, and documentation are vague and poorly communicated (or not communicated at all).

That lack of transparency will also make it difficult to justify employment decisions in a valid way.

Inconsistent or Nonexistent Documentation

When records of feedback are not stored centrally and consistently, they can become lost and unavailable when they are needed to support and justify decisions related to promotions, job assignments, discipline, and termination. Documentation is a critical part of an effective performance management process.

Having a consistent and documented process for performance management that is applied across the organization can help organizations minimize risk, while improving their ability to provide employees with the feedback and development support they need.

Performance Management Improves Organizational Alignment

If an organization has strategic objectives focused on maintaining key customers and lengthening the customer life cycle but employee performance criteria are primarily focused on gaining new customers, there’s a critical disconnect that could hinder the organization’s ability to achieve its objectives.

This situation is not uncommon. Effective performance management systems can minimize these disconnects by ensuring that everybody’s performance is aligned with organizational direction.

why is performance management important

That direction, of course, may change frequently. The increased speed of business means that company and employee targets are changing faster than ever before. 

The ability to ensure that goals can be cascaded through an organization quickly and consistently provides a fundamental competitive advantage.

Leaders expect their vision to be adopted across the entire organization. But if the importance of the cascade of goals isn’t articulated, it will be impossible to know if that alignment is occurring. 

An effective performance management process helps deploy cascading goals from the executive suite to divisions, departments, and individual employees. This ensures transparency, goal progression on a continual basis, and the ability to evaluate how overall strategy is being achieved through individual performance. 

As the Center for Corporate and Professional Development at Kent State University said, “Having a systemic process provides employees and management with the understanding of potential talent gaps and provides an avenue for linking development plans to fill specific skill or performance gaps.”

What is the Main Goal of a Performance Management System?

The main goal of an effective performance management system is to drive the achievements of organizational goals and objectives. 

That’s a tall order, especially in large organizations. 

HR departments must oversee a lot of moving parts across a wide array of people and a variety of departments and roles. That burden can be both costly and time consuming.

The burden on HR is minimized and organizational effectiveness is improved when performance management software is used to manage the process.

A performance management system also ensures that documentation is being stored, encrypted, and easily accessible for the analysis of individual, department, division, and organizational performance.

See how PerformYard can streamline and automate your performance management process. Learn More

Even if you’re not Adobe or Deloitte, performance management is worth investing in. An effective performance management system reduces turnover, lowers liability risk, and improves organizational alignment. 

If you’d like to learn more about implementing performance management, here are a few of our favorite articles to get you started:

Creating a Modern Performance Management System

3 Elements of Performance Management (And Why You Should Focus On Them)

The Purpose of Performance Management: 5 Options

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The Value of Real-Time Feedback Tools

We’re sharing the key benefits and features of real-time feedback tools to help you better understand the value they bring to organizations.

Real-time feedback creates a culture of continuous feedback that helps direct employee efforts, helping them understand where they’re succeeding and where there’s room for improvement.

But in order to consistently provide real-time feedback, it’s critical that your organization has real-time feedback tools that can solicit, distribute, and store feedback effectively. 

Real-time feedback tools should allow feedback to be accessible to managers, requestable by employees, and shared in 1-on-1 meetings. 

In this article, we’re sharing the key benefits and features of real-time feedback tools to help you better understand the value they bring to organizations. 

See how PerformYard's real-time feedback tools can help your business. Learn More

What Is Real-Time Feedback? 

Real-time feedback is a modern approach to performance management where managers and colleagues provide frequent, trackable feedback to guide and develop employees and their performance.

When real-time feedback is given, employees are more aware of where their successes and shortcomings lie. With this awareness, they are able to adapt their performance as needed to better meet expectations. 

PerformYard: Manage Real-Time Feedback

PerformYard’s performance management software is the leading real-time feedback software. PerformYard helps organizations manage, track, and maintain any kind of feedback. 

Real-time feedback software differs from traditional feedback software in that it allows employees to request and complete feedback frequently and repeatedly. 

This feedback functions similarly to weekly check-ins or 1-on-1s with one distinct difference: this feedback is trackable. 

During a typical 1-on-1, a manager may convey positive feedback to an employee directly, which can be great for employee morale and direction. 

By using real-time feedback software, the employee still receives this direction, but the feedback is stored on the employee’s profile—allowing managers and HR to pull up the feedback at any point. 

With PerformYard, a manager has flexibility to provide instantaneous feedback through custom templates or quick comments that can be shared among many different stakeholders. 

In turn, employees have the ability to request feedback from anyone in the organization. All of this feedback is stored and easily accessed in PerformYard’s single sign-on platform.

The key benefit that PerformYard brings to real-time feedback is feedback management. 

With PerformYard, employees get feedback fast. Organizations can store, track, and analyze feedback all in one place.

Key Features of Real-Time Feedback with PerformYard

PerformYard’s real-time feedback tools are a great way to fine-tune employee performance, boost morale, and track employee performance over time. 

Here are the top real-time feedback features you’ll get when you adopt PerformYard.

real-time feedback tools

Give Feedback at Any Time, to Anyone

Rather than waiting until review time to share feedback, PerformYard makes it simple to give real-time feedback at any time. 

And because feedback can take all different types of forms, PerformYard allows you to share your feedback with a number of different groups, including:

The Entire Company

It’s important to recognize employees who go above and beyond expectations. With PerformYard, a colleague or a manager can write a public comment for everybody in your organization to see.

The Subject

1-on-1 feedback can be a great way to document wins, works-in-progress, and opportunities for improvement. PerformYard allows any employee to provide private feedback to another employee with ease.

The Subject’s Manager

When an employee has an excellent win, it can be great to share that feedback both with the employee and their manager. 

And in instances where an employee hasn’t performed optimally and the situation needs to be addressed, the feedback should only be shared with an employee’s manager who can then discreetly address it with the employee. 

PerformYard provides a way for employees to share real-time feedback directly with an employee’s manager, or both the manager and subject. This helps keep managers informed about employee performance in a privacy-conscious manner.

Keep Performance Notes 

PerformYard allows you to keep private notes about any employee in your organization (including yourself). These notes are particularly helpful when it comes to completing holistic reviews. 

For example, if a manager and employee are working on a project in March but annual reviews aren’t held until December, the manager can stash away a series of private notes on the employee’s performance to draw from months later. 

These notes can be organized by topics and company-suggested hashtags, making the notes easy to find months after being written.

Send Feedback Requests

A formal feedback request is a great way to promote a culture of growth and feedback. 

Employees in a company may have feedback about another employee, but not think to write it down and submit it to the subject or their manager. 

With PerformYard, employees can request feedback on their performance from anybody in the company. This feedback helps both employees and managers understand how an employee’s contributions are being seen from others in the organization.

Store Feedback in One Place 

The great thing about PerformYard is that all feedback and reviews are stored in one convenient, single sign-on platform. 

Each employee can easily see every review they’ve completed or received, as well as every piece of real-time feedback they’ve requested or received. PerformYard centralizes all of this feedback and makes it easily accessible for employees, managers, and HR.

real-time feedback tools

This means no digging through emails and Google Docs to find random notes and feedback for every review cycle. 

Instead, all pertinent feedback is readily accessible, so managers and HR can cleanly see an employee’s performance over time. This makes completing annual review cycles and compensation decisions simple and informed.

The Benefits of Using PerformYard for Real-Time Feedback 

Employees can’t be expected to perform optimally without feedback. 

There’s nothing more frustrating as an employee than to be working for months, thinking that your work has been excellent, only to hear otherwise in a performance review.

Real-time feedback fixes this problem. Through real-time feedback software like PerformYard, employees immediately know what they’re doing well and where they need to improve. 

This real-time feedback gives employees validation, confidence, and direction. They see their wins being called out and understand that good work will be documented and rewarded. These same wins can then be highlighted in annual performance reviews, building compelling cases for compensation. 

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Managers can see all of the feedback their direct hires receive, giving them evolving and accurate views of how their employees’ performance impacts the organization. This helps steer how managers develop their employees, along with helping managers create more accurate annual reviews.

Great Resources for Real-Time Feedback 

Interested in learning more about real-time feedback? Here are some excellent resources we recommend to start your search.

How To Create a Feedback Culture

What Is Continuous Feedback? Real-World Examples from Adobe & Typeform

A Short Guide to Giving Feedback

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16 Features of Automated Performance Management Systems in 2022

Purchasing an automated performance management system is a big commitment for your organization. The best features include flexibility, ease of use, and great support.

Purchasing an automated performance management system is a big commitment for your organization. We think the best options include features in three categories: flexibility, ease of use, and great support. Software that excels in these three areas may be a great fit for your managers and employees.


Good performance management software accommodates a wide range of performance management strategies like annual reviews, quarterly goals, or continuous feedback. The best software adapts when your company’s needs change.

1. Performance Tools

All performance management systems should blend goals, feedback, and check-ins in their process. Goals set direction, feedback ties goals to the day-to-day, and check-ins provide space for long-term performance discussions.

2. Review Cycles and Timing

There should be exhaustive options for review cycle design and timing. You should be able to decide who conducts reviews, when reviews take place, and in what sequence reviews occur. 

3. Form Question Types

The software needs to accommodate questions you want to ask your employees, not just commonly asked questions.

4. Goal Options

Effective software allows you to choose the type of goals you want to set like KPI’s, S.M.A.R.T. goals, long-term goals, or any other type of goals.

5. Feedback Flexibility

Good software makes it easy to provide downward, upward, peer, or external feedback and edit visibility settings so reviewers choose who sees their feedback and when.

automated performance management

6. Self-Serve Administration

HR should be able to track the progress of reviews and goals at a glance and customize the software on their own.

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Ease of Use

Valuable performance management software is easy for everyone to use, including employees and managers. The key to high participation rates is enabling employees to focus on feedback, not bells and whistles.

7. Clean Design

The best automated performance management systems will have clean dashboards that give employees everything they need to see the moment they log in.

8. Robust Notification System

Great performance management software has a flexible notification/reminder system so employees don’t have to keep the software open.

performance management system

9. Single Sign On

The software you choose should integrate with an existing system like your HRIS, your SSO provider, or be compatible with your own SSO solution. For example, PerformYard integrates with HRIS systems like BambooHR so you can easily transfer employee data.

10. Simple Flow

Managers should be able to launch check-ins from their inbox and forward them to the right people with a single click.

11. Smart Automation

The right system automates mundane tasks like distributing forms, collecting sign-offs, tracking cycle progress, collating data, and more. 

Dedicated Success Manager

The best performance management companies assign a dedicated success manager to your organization. Everyone from the CEO to the newest hire is involved in the performance management, so the stakes are too high to rely on help pages or support tickets that may go unanswered. The best support teams will:

12. Create Custom Implementations

Great performance management strategies are designed for their organization. You want someone who will listen first, then support your efforts.

13. Train Your Employees

Live employee training by experts ensure every employee at the organization has what they need to be successful.

14. Develop a Long-term Relationship

A good success manager will partner with you as long as you use the software so you don’t have to re-explain your situation every time you have a question.

15. Reach out Proactively

Strong support teams go above and beyond answering questions by regularly contacting you to support your ongoing process.

16. Be Knowledgeable on Automated Performance Management Systems

A knowledgeable support team will understand the software, performance management processes, and can advise you on best practices.

When your performance management vendor is outsourced or offshoring the support teams it can be a sign that the organization is interested in cutting costs more than ensuring your success.

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Your Next Step

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360 Review Process Guide

A 360 review is about more than peers providing feedback to an employee. 360 reviews help companies gain a holistic view of how each employee functions within their respective department and the greater company.

Getting the 360 process right requires a host of factors: visibility, anonymity, nominations, staging, and question types. The sheer number of variables can be daunting. 

PerformYard understands that nailing the process is key to the success of any 360 program. We've helped hundreds of organizations implement 360 review processes that are effective and streamlined. 

Let’s look at some real-world tactics you can implement to run a successful 360 review process.

What is a 360 review?

When a company launches 360 reviews, employees are asked to provide feedback to colleagues who fall outside of their traditional work hierarchy. 

Instead of having a manager review a direct hire, employees from all levels provide feedback for other employees at different levels within an organization.

Are 360 reviews effective?

The answer depends on your company's process. With each additional exchange beyond manager to direct hire, you add opportunities for conflict. 

Employees who fear conflict may hesitate to write anything but positive feedback. Others, not versed in providing constructive feedback, may cause unnecessary conflict by providing overly harsh feedback.  

A focused 360 review process gives your employees a helpful guide to keep their feedback meaningful and useful. Process will help you generate better feedback, filter it, and present it in the most effective way.

With the risk of office friction, hurt feelings, wasted time, and strategic confusion; it is critical that we get the 360 review process right. 

Start with the Purpose of 360s

When building out your process, always think about the purpose of the 360 review cycle. 

The true purpose of a 360 review is to give managers and employees a broader number of perspectives on performance. Through 360s, you collect a more diverse set of ideas about what employees are doing well and what they can improve on. Leadership, managers and the employees get to see a full picture of performance rather than just a single opinion.

360 review

When do you do a 360 review?

Oftentimes, peers or supervisors will have a perspective on an employee that their manager does not. This perspective is often missed in a traditional review process, but picked up with a 360 review.

360s are especially useful for collecting perspectives when a manager is not always directly working with the employee, such as when employees work on project teams or have a cross-functional relationship with different departments.

Figuring out why you want to surface diverse feedback will help guide the rest of your decisions and help you get new perspectives. 

Four Key Questions to Answer

There are four key questions that your organization needs to answer to create an effective 360 process. Your answers should be unique to your organization so your 360 review process reflects your organization’s needs.

Getting the right answers to these questions is critical to building an effective 360 process. Be honest and be thoughtful. 

1. Who Will See the Feedback and Reviewers? 

In the traditional review, the employee and manager are the only people who contribute to a review. With a 360 process, this is not necessarily the case -- peer reviewers include feedback. 

You need to decide how your employees will receive their 360 feedback:

  • Present feedback raw
  • Have managers or HR sign-off on feedback first
  • Have managers filter the feedback
  • Have managers read and summarize the feedback to their employee.

Each of these options presents pros and cons.

Raw feedback allows employees to understand how their peers see their performance. However, it can exacerbate the effects of inappropriate comments and will likely present a less-than-clear picture of what the employee should focus on.

If the manager reads and summarizes the feedback and that’s all the employee sees, they may wonder how accurate a portrayal of the peer feedback the manager’s summary is.

You should make this decision based on how well your employees give and receive feedback. At a minimum, we’d suggest the manager or HR sign-off on all feedback and have the manager summarize everything into a cohesive narrative.

The second part of the question is whether employee feedback will be anonymous for the receiver. Making this decision often boils down to how well your employees have been trained in giving feedback. 

If employee feedback focuses too much on personality issues, then the feedback can cause conflict and distrust. We suggest that you present anonymous or summarized feedback until your employees have had a few review cycles to become acclimated to this holistic feedback approach. 

As you continue to train your employees and they become more comfortable with 360 feedback, you can adjust the process to align with your company’s strategic vision.

2. How Will You Stage the Process?

Unlike a simple manager review, 360 reviews include multiple steps in the process. Make sure you give yourself enough time to account for these additional steps.

Here's what a typical process might look like:

  1. A nomination period
  2. Peer and self-reviews
  3. Sign-offs
  4. Manager review
  5. Final sign-offs
  6. Review meeting between manager and employee. 

Consider the number of peer and manager reviews your employees will need to complete to determine a timeframe. 1-2 weeks is typically an appropriate amount of time for each employee to submit their reviews. Longer will result in a dragged out process. Besides, employees will typically wait until the last week anyway, so no need to give extra time to procrastinate!

Scheduling review meetings should also take 1-2 weeks. This way, everyone can plan for and make time on their calendars for a dedicated review period, as opposed to haphazardly slotting people in over a month or longer.

Another important stage in the process is how the feedback form is presented to the employee. You could choose to present the completed feedback forms to the employee ahead of the review meeting. This allows the employee to read, digest and prepare for an effective conversation. It’s important not to share these forms too far ahead of the meeting, however, as a lot of important context will be shared during the discussion, and you don’t want employees to stew over misunderstandings. Less than 24 hours is a good time frame. 

Alternatively, you could present all the feedback forms after the meeting as support/summary of what was discussed. This puts the employee at a disadvantage and could result in less effective discussions. 

All of these stages add up, and adding unnecessary time into each stage can stretch a few review weeks into a review quarter. Be judicious with your timeline.  

3. What should a 360 review include?

When creating review questions, remember that most peer reviewers are probably not trained to give accurately calibrated ratings or answer detailed competency questions.

That’s ok. That’s not the purpose of peer reviews. We’re not looking for a final determination from peer reviewers; we’re looking for more perspectives. Stick with high level questions that draw out details you won’t get from a manager review.

Some classic 360 review questions include:

  • “What does the employee do well? Share examples.”
  • “What can the employee improve on? Support with examples.”
  • “Share examples of how the employee lives up to x or y key values.” 

Always ask for specific examples as they keep reviewers focused on actions rather than opinions of character. Examples will increase clarity and reduce “she-said-he-said” if there is disagreement between peers.

As a general rule, a few open-ended and high level questions work best. A simple form keeps the process moving rather than bogging down employees who will often need to complete several peer reviews per cycle.

4. Who Will Review Whom?

The selection of peers can be a challenge. Most employees will have one manager, which makes it easy to know who will complete the manager review. However employees can have many qualifying peers, so it becomes difficult to determine who reviews whom and who chooses these reviewers.

We’ve found that there are two variables you can use to easily determine who reviews whom: 

  • What are the criteria for qualifying peers?
  • How many peer review forms will each employee complete? 

Once you determine the answers to these two variables, you arrive at a more manageable and stable pool of potential peer reviewers. 

A common approach is to give employees a fairly detailed list of criteria, and then let the employees nominate whoever they want peer reviews from who match the aforementioned criteria. Managers and HR will then check the nominations to ensure they are qualified before moving ahead.

When it comes to the volume of reviews, we believe that the number of peer reviews should be balanced based on how much you’re asking from each peer reviewer and how much feedback you want to solicit. We’ve seen companies do 10+ peer reviews per employee and use a very easy to fill out form. Other companies choose to do just 2-5 peer reviews and ask a bit more in the form.

Importantly, 360s reviews shouldn’t come from only peers. Because your purpose is to solicit diverse feedback, the most valuable perspectives could be from multiple supervisors, direct reports or even clients. Make sure that each employee has a balanced list of reviewers so that they get a holistic look at their performance.

The 360 Review Process Step by Step

You’ve answered your four key questions. Congrats! Now it’s time to set up your successful 360 review process. 
Let’s go through the steps together.

Step 1: Train Reviewers

Letting your employees figure out how to give constructive feedback on their own can quickly turn into a nightmare with feedback that is vague, overly negative, or plain unhelpful. 

You should give your raters general guidance before the 360 surveys are sent out to ensure their feedback is productive. We have included an email template at the bottom of this article that provides some helpful feedback guidelines as well as links to some helpful resources. Feel free to borrow it!

When training reviewers, give models of good positive and negative feedback. Instead of focusing on who the employee is as a person, feedback should talk about specific actions and impacts. Reviewers should write specific examples for both positive and negative feedback. Negative feedback should include things employees can do better. Focus on actions, not personalities. 

It’s also important to explain why 360s are valuable to your organization. Take the time to show how 360s can be great for career development. When people know why they’re giving feedback, they’re more likely to give feedback you can use.

We believe that comprehensive training on feedback would be best -- such as an in-person or livestreamed presentation -- but even a short clear email at the start of the process will make a big difference.

Step 2: Nominate Reviewers

Create clear nomination criteria and then carve out a separate time period for employees or their managers to nominate who will provide peer reviews. For small organizations, consider having HR complete the nominations if this is feasible.

Make sure you have a due date for nominations. You’ll need all the reviewers and reviewees determined before moving into peer reviews, so setting an early deadline will reduce the odds of a bottleneck in your process.

Don’t just assume the nominations will happen. Send reminder emails throughout the deadline week, and give yourself time to track down everyone who misses the deadline. Trust us, there will be people who miss the deadline. 

Lastly, build in some time for HR or managers to review the nominations before proceeding to the reviews.

Step 3: Launch the Cycle

Do not go small on the launch. 

Everyone will be busy with their own work, and it’s easy to miss or ignore the launch of the review cycle if it’s confined to a single email. You need to amplify the message. Here's what a cycle might look like from the HR side:

  1. Jump into department meetings.
  2. Ask your CEO to send an all-company email.
  3. Send another email a week ahead of the launch to get people thinking about what they’ll write.
  4. Send another email with a short guide to giving feedback.
  5. Send an email the day before with an overview of the process.
  6. Finally, send an email the day of announcing the forms are live.

You’ll know the right balance for your organization, but don’t be afraid to go big. 

As the cycle progresses, don’t be afraid to keep sending updates and reminders even before the forms are overdue. Occasionally letting everyone know how many of their peers have already completed their forms and reminding them of the due date can keep your process top of mind.

Step 4: Collect Feedback

Collecting feedback, passing along feedback, and alerting the next person in the process comprises one of the most critical, yet underlooked components in the 360 process. 

If you’re unprepared, this is where things will get clunky -- forms will get lost or delayed, and everything can get bogged down. In the worst case, reviewers may misunderstand the process and email a raw review form directly to the reviewee. Yikes!

To prevent this, HR should either create very clear guidelines for who employees need to pass forms to, or HR should act as the central dispatch, receiving and sending out the forms themselves. 

Either of these work great, but if you’re really looking to streamline your process, you should look into performance management software, which completes these steps automatically.

Step 5: Review/Sign-Off/Analyze

After all feedback is collected, managers or HR should read each form to make sure the feedback lives up to the standards of your feedback training. Follow up on any conflicting or vague information. Managers should pay special attention to trends across multiple reviews, building a holistic view of the employee in question. 

Don’t skimp on this step. The manager should be prepared to help the reviewed employee interpret the feedback and understand how to best act upon it.

Step 6: Bring Feedback Together

Think about how you’d like to share the feedback with your employees. We’ve found that showing the feedback from multiple peer reviewers inline, along with a manager’s commentary, followed by a summary from the manager, makes all the feedback easier to understand for the employee. 

Step 7: Present Feedback to the Employee

Shortly before an employee’s review meeting with their manager, send the employee a copy of their review forms. This gives the employee time to digest the feedback and prepare for the meeting. 

Not everyone is calm under fire, and if you present an employee with unexpectedly negative feedback in the meeting, they may get flustered and not be able to have a constructive conversation. After a few hours or even a day, everyone has had time to compose themselves and think about what they want to say.

On the other hand, it is best to not wait too long, as employees may stew on feedback without the ability to discuss this with a manager. 

But -- and this is important -- not all feedback is negative. A lot is positive! Many employees will receive positive and constructive feedback. Receiving this ahead of the in-person meeting will still allow the employee to focus on the points raised, and help ensure the conversation is productive. 

Step 8: Discuss Feedback with the Employee

Set aside plenty of time to have a thorough discussion of the employee’s feedback. This meeting is what everything has been building towards. The result of a peer review is not a bunch of filled out forms — it’s an informed and productive discussion of past and future performance between a manager and employee. 

The manager should give the employee ample time to share their own thoughts on their performance and focus the discussion on how the feedback can be translated into productive future action. 

This is how employee development happens. A productive 360 review process will give an employee a clear view of their own standing in the organization as well as a strong path forward. 

360 Review Example Case Studies

Let’s take a look at some notable companies who implement 360s in their review cycle. Maybe one of these will end up being a great match for you!

Egg Strategy

Egg Strategy is a consulting firm that runs 360 reviews after every project. This results in a lot of 360s -- some employees can get upwards of thirty a year. The questions are qualitative and touch on specific qualities of participating in the project. The feedback had been anonymous, but Egg Strategy recently shifted to open feedback after they trained employees on delivering high quality feedback.

Five-Star Technology

Five-Star Technology is an IT consulting company that uses 360s as part of their annual review process. The peer feedback asks how employees live up to the six core values of the organization. Managers then go through a process called “qualitative coding,” where they compile quotes on each core value and then create a cohesive picture on the employee's performance. Sometimes, the lack of positive feedback around a core value can be very enlightening as to where deficiencies lie. 

J2 Interactive

J2 Interactive, a technology services firm, runs annual 360s. Each review cycle includes feedback from 5-10 people, such as account managers, peers, clients and direct reports. The feedback forms ask a few open-ended questions on examples of success and areas for improvement. All the feedback is reviewed by a manager and the employee’s mentor. These two people discuss the feedback with the employee in question. Following the meeting, the reviewers write up their summary of the feedback, discussion, and next steps.


Netflix has a bold and famous 360 review process where anyone can review anyone else in the company. Employees use an online form to tell each other what they should stop, start, or continue. As an added layer of transparency, everyone up the chain of command has access to your 360 review.

This may seem like an extremely high-pressure way to collect feedback, but 360s are separate from compensation reviews. That way, no one worries about how their feedback will affect the pay of themselves and their coworkers. Netflix also has a hard-earned feedback culture that is regularly reinforced.

360 Review Tool Cost

360 degree feedback software costs between $4 and $12 per employee per month based on the number of employees. If you have under a few hundred employees, you can expect to be on the higher end. Minimum annual contract sizes range from $4,000 to $15,000. 

It's important to consider the full cost of implementing 360 degree feedback software. Some vendors will add additional charges for set-up, training, customer support and add-on modules.

360s In PerformYard

PerformYard makes the 360 process streamlined and automated. Gone are the days of chasing down forms, emailing raw feedback to HR, and manually delivering the results to each manager. 

Now, HR can easily set permissions, quickly send reminders, collect feedback, and examine employee trends all in a single platform. 

Let’s take a quick look at how you can run your 360 process through PerformYard. 

Set Up Your Cycle

Your HR team (or whoever is an admin in PerformYard) can quickly set up settings for each 360 review cycle. These settings, which will all be set before any reviewer even gets nominated, will cover every aspect of the 360 process. This means nominations, notifications, approvals, data collection, and feedback dissemination. The entire process is streamlined and set up in advance. 

Set Up Your Nominations

PerformYard has four typical ways in which reviewers are selected. 

The first is an employee requesting to review another employee. The second is by an employee requesting that another person review them. The third is for a manager to request that employee x review employee y. The last is that HR creates all the peer reviews.

HR has the ability to set permissions -- companywide -- that limit or expand who employees can request for reviews. Admins can also require manager or HR sign offs on each requested review, ensuring that each review is for a valid reason. 

What you’re doing here is delegating the nomination step down to the manager and employee level -- with guardrails put in place. Now, a manager and an employee can choose who are the correct reviewers for the 360 process, without having HR get bogged down in the process. 

Set Up Your Due Dates and Reminders 

With your PerformYard admin account, you can quickly set up uniform due dates for every step of the process. Due dates for nominations? Check. Due dates for feedback? Check? Due dates for manager review? You can see where this is going. 

Every time an employee completes a step, this information is automatically recorded in PerformYard. But, sometimes employees forget (we’re all human!), and so reminders need to be sent. 
Not to worry, you can easily set reminder emails to go out whenever a due date is missed. These emails will contain a link directly to the form the employee needs to complete, helping reduce further delays. 

Set Up Your 360 Forms

PerformYard has flexible 360 form templates that you can customize however you need for your organization. You can modify the form so that the peer review is different than the manager review, which is different than the self review. 

As a general rule, a few open-ended and high level questions work best. A simple form keeps the process moving rather than bogging down employees who will often need to complete several peer reviews per cycle

Once all your forms and permissions are set, it’s time to launch your cycle!

Launch the Review Cycle

Launch your 360 process! Once triggered, PerformYard will send an email to all employees containing links that will bring them directly to their next step in the process.

First, they’ll complete nominations. Once the nomination process has run its course, PerformYard will send another email launching the review portion. This email will have a link to where each employee completes their necessary reviews. 

As always, if anyone is behind in the process, PerformYard will send a reminder email, prodding them to finish their outstanding task. 

Manager Review and Sign Off 

After all reviews have been completed, managers will gain access to the 360 feedback for each of their employees. From there, they will be prompted to review, summarize, or prepare the feedback as your organization sees appropriate. Additionally, managers will have access to peer review as they complete their own reviews of their employees. 

Once manager reviews and sign offs are completed, PerformYard will automatically disseminate the feedback to employees per the permissions you have established. 

We Made It! 

And that’s it! Thanks to PerformYard’s streamlined review process, the entire 360 experience has been streamlined and formalized. All feedback is easily stored and accessed through one software, allowing admin and managers easy access to performance insights and metrics, making employee evaluations and development discussions more transparent and understandable. 

We’re pretty proud of how easy PerformYard makes the review process, and hopeful that you’ll partner with us in the near future!

360s Process Templates

360s are a bit daunting if you’ve never rolled one out before. To make their adoption easier, we’ve included two example templates below -- a training email template and a review questions template. Feel free to borrow these!

If you’re looking for an example timeline and a feedback guide for employees, be sure to download our free 360 degree process template.

Training Reviewers Template

This month, we’re kicking off our 360 review process. You will be asked to give open-ended feedback on your colleagues. As you write this feedback, please keep a couple of things in mind.

One, focus on actions, not personalities. Write about specific actions and impacts that you’ve seen from your colleagues.

Two, focus on the positives, but don’t forget the negatives. Suggest ways your colleagues can improve on their weaknesses.

Three, give helpful feedback. Simply writing “Jane does a good job” is not helpful for Jane. Why is Jane doing a good job? What should she continue doing?

An example of helpful feedback would be “Jane is doing a great job at connecting with customers. She is truly concerned for their well-being. I see this in the way she remembers their birthdays and other life events. Jane could do better at getting back to customers in a timely manner. Sometimes customers email me when Jane hasn’t replied to them in a few days.”

Review Questions Template

Manager Form

  1. How have you seen this employee perform well in the last year? Give three specific examples.
  2. What are three specific things this employee should work on in their performance? Give examples.
  3. How has your experience overall been working with this employee. Give examples.
  4. Is there any other information you wish to share?

Peer Form

  1. Share examples of when this employee contributed at a very high level.
  2. Share examples of when this employee could have done better.
  3. Would you always want to have this employee on your immediate team? (Yes/No)
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How to Use Performance Management KPIs

Don’t overlook the power of well-crafted KPIs to help drive performance improvement in your organization.

Every year, organizations spend hours conducting performance reviews, reviewing metrics, and setting goals with employees.

But without key performance indicators (KPIs), neither employees nor their managers can say whether or not performance expectations were met.

KPIs establish the bar in terms of the specific deliverables employees will produce and provide a means to measure the effectiveness and outcomes of their efforts.

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand how your organization can use KPIs to drive performance improvement.

How Can KPIs Be Used In Performance Management?

It’s important to understand the KPIs are not goals. 

PerformYard makes it easy to track and monitor custom KPIs in one place. Learn More

Goals are the broad outcomes that managers expect of their employees. KPIs provide a quantifiable way to measure those outcomes.

Performance Management KPI

Managers and supervisors should work with their employees to understand how the employee’s performance impacts department, division, and organizational goals and develop KPIs that measure performance.

For example, an employee might have a goal of improving sales performance in 2022. A related KPI might be: “Increase sales in XYZ region by 10% by year-end.”

Once developed, KPIs need to be reviewed, discussed, and potentially modified over time. Managers should establish regular reporting periods where they review progress with employees. This might be on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.

PerformYard makes it easy to track and monitor custom KPIs in one place. Learn More

Whenever possible, provide employees and managers with real-time access to performance metrics so they can be continuously monitored. This provides a powerful point of discussion for performance conversations.

How Do You Use KPIs to Measure Employee Performance?

KPIs should be specific, measurable, and quantifiable. They should be tracked throughout some time frame to ultimately indicate whether the employee has been successful in achieving their goals.

Once an agreement has been reached on an employee’s goals and objectives for a certain period of time, managers should work with employees to develop KPIs that can be used to measure performance. 

KPIs can be focused on both process and outcomes measures. Process KPIs measure progress along the way to some desired outcome. Outcome KPIs measure desired end results.

For example, generating a specific number of leads over a specific period of time might be a process KPI driving toward an outcome KPI of sales. 

There are some important attributes that should be reflected in KPIs to ensure they will be effective in measuring performance:

  • They should be directly aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives. If not, they would not hold value for the organization and time spent attempting to influence these KPIs would represent wasted effort.
  • They should be able to be easily quantified, or measured. If a metric is difficult to attain, it obviously can’t be used to measure performance. For example, if you establish a KPI related to customer satisfaction but have no way to capture input from customers related to their satisfaction, this would not be an effective KPI.
  • The employee needs to be personally able to influence the KPI. It’s not uncommon for marketing staff members to have KPIs related to sales, however, it’s unlikely that individual marketing staff have the ability to influence all elements that go into making a sale—from product quality and availability, to salesperson effectiveness, order fulfillment, etc. Employees should be able to influence the KPIs set for them.
  • They should be clear, simple and easy to understand. Effective KPIs serve as a powerful communication tool for helping employees understand specifically what is expected of them, but they need to be framed in such a way that they are readily understandable and unambiguous.
  • They need to be able to be measured and communicated in a timely manner. If the data required to measure KPIs is too complex or too difficult to gather, it may not be possible to provide the kind of timely feedback needed to drive desired performance outcomes.

KPIs can be extremely useful, but they aren’t the sole indicator of how well an employee is performing. KPIs should be linked to objectives and tracked to see how employees are performing over time.

Examples of Performance Management KPIs

Some of the most successful companies effectively use KPIs to monitor and manage employee performance. For example:

  • Uber places high value on customer satisfaction and has a process whereby riders are asked to evaluate their driver (interestingly, Uber also asks drivers to evaluate their riders). The ratings over time and across multiple trips then provide a KPI that can be tracked to indicate how well the driver is performing.
  • Betterment, an online investment company that relies heavily on referrals to help grow its client base, uses KPIs to track referrals. This helps them know that they’re headed in the right direction and provides a means of assessing individual performance.

Both of these examples illustrate an especially important aspect of selecting appropriate KPIs—they need to be set with organizational goals in mind. Here’s a list of some additional potential KPIs to help spark some ideas. Keep in mind that the most effective KPIs will be specific to your own organization and its goals.

Sales Volume

Sales volume KPIs could be set at a variety of different levels—overall sales, sales by product or services, sales based on specific demographic markets, etc.

Customer Satisfaction

Like sales volume, customer satisfaction can also be measured at an overall level or may be broken down into specific categories: satisfaction with a certain type of product or service, satisfaction with aspects of the sales cycle, satisfaction with certain types of touchpoints within the organization, etc.

Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is directly related to customer satisfaction and is important for organizations to measure. Employee satisfaction might be broken down by division, department, manager, length of service, role within the organization, etc.


All organizations need ways to measure the quality of the products and services they provide. In manufacturing organizations, defects can provide a good KPI to measure quality. In service organizations, quality might be measured through input from customers or clients.

As you can see, there are a wide range of KPIs that an organization or manager might use to measure the impact of an employee’s performance. 

But it’s important to avoid coming up with too many KPIs. 

Instead, focus on a few key metrics that provide the best insights into an employee’s personal impact on overall organizational goals.  

A good way to approach the process of establishing KPIs is to work with employees to brainstorm a list of possible KPIs.

Then, prioritize the list to identify the most important and relevant KPIs that will give you the information you need to effectively evaluate employee performance. 

In addition, give yourself and your employees flexibility to modify, add, or remove KPIs. Performance management is a process that can (and should) be informed through experience.

Don’t overlook the power of well-crafted KPIs to help drive performance improvement in your organization. When aligned from top to bottom, created in collaboration with employees, and monitored and reviewed regularly, KPIs play an invaluable role in the performance management process.

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5 Modern Performance Appraisal Methods for 2022

Performance appraisals have been a customary practice in organizations of all kinds for decades.

Performance appraisals have been a customary practice in organizations of all kinds for decades.

In fact, according to, the first law on appraisal established for the U.S. Civil Service Commission (now the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or OPM was established in 1912. In 1923 the Classification Act established a graphic rating scale which was started in 1924 and used until 1935. 

Since that time, a wide range of variations in performance appraisal or employee evaluation processes have emerged. Today’s most popular modern performance appraisal methods include:

  • OKRs
  • Management by Objectives (MBO)
  • 360-feedback
  • Continuous feedback
  • Stacked ranking

With so many options to choose from, how do you choose which one would work best for your organization? That begins with an understanding of how each of these approaches work and their pros and cons.

How to Choose the Right Approach for Your Organization

There is no one “right” or one-size-fits all approach to performance appraisal. The approach you choose will be based on your organization, the type of work it does, and its culture. Here we take a look at some of the modern methods of performance appraisal with examples to help you determine which options might work best for you, your managers, and your employees. 

Modern Performance Appraisals in Practice

1. OKRs

Objectives and key results (OKRs) are one of the newer types of methods being used to evaluate performance. They’re focused on identifying quantifiable measures to evaluate performance. OKRs are designed to evaluate company and team performance, not performance at an individual level. The objectives are the “what” of performance; the results are the “how’s” which are measured in terms of milestones which are either achieved or not achieved. 

Companies that have chosen to use this method include Google, LinkedIn and Zynga; it’s a popular method among technology companies. OKRs are also often used by start-up organizations, especially those that have experienced problems with execution as they’ve grown. 

The benefits of using OKRs is that it helps employees focus on achieving team and organizational outcomes by working together toward common goals.

There are some cons, however. One of the greatest potential downfalls is that the wrong key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to measure the targets. Measures can be leading, lagging, or based on output, but they need to align directly with OKRs. OKRs, in turn, need to align directly to department, division or organizational goals and objectives. 

2. Management by Objectives (MBO)

Management by Objectives (MBO) is a performance appraisal approach that preceded OKRs, yet the two are similar. As the name sounds, MBO like OKRs is also focused on objectives. But objectives are focused at the individual level. The process involves managers and employees working together to create specific objectives related to their performance in support of organizational goals. The use of SMART objectives—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive—help to ensure that metrics are meaningful. 

As with OKRs, companies choose to use MBO to help engage employees in the goal-setting process to boost the odds that the goals will be achieved. 

The benefit of MBO is that it is outcome-focused and related to measurable indicators of success. One downfall can be that, if not embedded within the entire organization, it may lack leadership commitment and support.

3. 360-degree Feedback

The 360-degree feedback approach to performance appraisal is based on gathering input from a variety of sources—not just the employee’s direct supervisor. These inputs may come from peers within or outside of an employee’s department, their customers, vendors—anyone who can offer direct insights into their performance. For supervisors and managers, direct reports are used as an input to their performance appraisal.

Companies that choose to use 360-degree feedback as their performance appraisal method value input and recognize that a wider range of input, provided more frequently, can benefit employees and the organization. Netflix is an example of a company that has revamped their performance appraisal process by doing away with annual performance evaluations in favor of 360-degree reviews. 

The primary benefit of 360-degree feedback is that it provides a wide range of inputs and perspectives about an employee’s performance, unlike traditional performance management. 

There are downfalls, though. One downfall is that those asked for input may be hesitant to offer constructive feedback, especially if that input is not anonymous. Another downfall can be the potential damage to working relationships when evaluated employees feel that feedback has been harsh or unjustified.

4. Continuous Feedback

There has been much criticism of traditional performance appraisals which tend to be conducted on an annual basis. That length of time between formal reviews, critics say, is not timely enough to offer maximum value to employees. Consequently, some organizations have begun to take a more continuous feedback approach to performance evaluation providing more timely information to employees about both the positive aspects of their performance and opportunities for improvement.

Adobe is an example of an organization that does quarterly check-ins with employees. Deloitte does weekly check-ins and has team leaders do short reviews after every project or quarter, whichever is more frequent. 

Uber is probably the best example of an approach to performance appraisal that truly is continuous—drivers can review their performance ratings at the end of each service based on input from customers. 

The benefit of continuous feedback is that employees are kept well informed about how they’re doing and are able to make adjustments to their approaches and processes based on feedback. The primary downfall is the added amount of time that may be required by managers and supervisors. However, technology can help here by automatically capturing and supplying reports to streamline and simplify the evaluation process. In addition, continuous feedback approaches also are often aided by technology that allows employees to view performance data themselves throughout the year to determine how they are doing in real time.

5. Stacked Ranking

Stacked ranking is an approach that was famously used by Al Dunlap while working for Sunbeam. Dunlap was notoriously known as “Chainsaw Al.” He was responsible for laying off thousands of workers through a process whereby managers had to rank their employees—those who ranked at the bottom were let go. Dunlap didn’t originate the ranking method of performance appraisal, though. It was actually originated by GE’s Jack Welch in 1982, and has also been used (but discontinued) by Microsoft and Goldman Sachs. It’s a controversial approach, but one that is still used by some companies like Amazon

A stacked ranking approach works well for competitive organizations or organizations focused on pulling themselves out of a declining or poor performance situation. They do not work well in organizations that value a collaborative culture and teamwork as the approach can create tension between employees. 

Some companies are eliminating the formal performance evaluation process altogether. Companies that have eliminated performance reviews, according to reports from organizations like SHRM, include Adobe, Deloitte, and GE. In truth, though, most companies that say they have ended performance evaluation have really just eliminated traditional performance appraisal processes in favor of one of the more modern alternatives to performance reviews discussed here. Fortunately, there are many advantages of modern methods of performance appraisal. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between traditional and modern methods of performance appraisals?

Traditional approaches to performance management are focused on formal meetings between supervisors and employees that generally occur on an annual basis. Modern and advanced methods of performance management occur more regularly, incorporate input from multiple sources, are often aided by technology and directly involve the employees being evaluated.

Which method of performance appraisal is best?

It would be disingenuous to suggest that there is one “best” approach to performance appraisal. The best approach will be unique to each organization and will depend on its culture, competitive positioning and other factors. What’s important for organizations is to seek a solution that lets you streamline and automate your existing performance management process while helping you grow into the performance strategy you aspire to.

How do you write a good performance review?

A good performance review should focus on observable, measurable and objective performance outcomes, and offer alignment between individual, team, and overall organizational goals. Modern methods of performance appraisal also often are based on real-time reports that can be generated through automated performance management systems

Which company has the best performance appraisal system?

There are numerous best practice examples to point to in terms of how various companies have applied the modern performance appraisal methods we’ve discussed here. We’ve highlighted some of the companies with the best performance management practices. As you consider which of the modern methods of performance appraisal might work best at your company, their experiences and best practices can supply useful insights.

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How to Document Employee Performance: A Guide for Salaried Professionals

Documenting employee performance is a key component of continuous feedback and effective performance management and should be an ongoing process.

To many people, the phrase “documenting employee performance” is synonymous with write-up forms, pink slips, and strikes. But documentation for salaried professionals is going to look a lot different than it does for hourly employees working at a local business. 

So how do you document employee performance when your workers are white-collar professionals? 

The solution isn’t going to be a write-up form for being late. 

In this article, we’re sharing tips and best practices for documenting the performance of salaried professionals.

1. Why Document Employee Performance

Documenting employee performance isn’t about raising good or poor performance with the employee—it’s about putting it down on paper. 

Documentation is important for a variety of reasons, especially from an employee development and risk management perspective. 

Employee Development

Documentation is often grouped with negative feedback, but managers should be documenting both positive and constructive feedback. Documenting employee performance helps employees and managers understand what an employee is doing well and where they can improve. 

Because documentation is chronological, managers are able to gather data and insights about how an employee's performance has changed over time. Managers can then use this data to make crucial decisions around promotions, discipline, salary increases, or termination.

Managers may choose to allow their direct reports to access documentation. This helps both parties keep track of conversations that have taken place and refer to them when necessary.

Risk Management

In the event of discipline, termination, or even a lawsuit, documentation offers proof for an organization’s actions.

The more detailed the documentation is, the more helpful it will be in providing evidence. Thorough documentation should provide a record of agreements, goals, and timelines that have been communicated and agreed upon by both the employee and their manager. 

2. When to Document Employee Performance 

In addition to structured reviews (think: annual check-ins, quarterly conversations, semi-annual reviews, etc.), documentation should be incorporated into any process of ongoing feedback. 

Any time performance is discussed, it should be documented. And it’s helpful to document as soon as possible, rather than waiting until later.

The more time that passes after a conversation, the fuzzier the details get. Documenting performance immediately after it’s discussed will help you provide specific details, rather than writing down broad themes from the conversation or relying on your memory. 

3. How to Document Employee Performance

It’s not necessary to have a formal, standardized form for performance documentation. 

In fact, it’s not even always necessary to share formal documentation with employees. Documentation may be as simple as a manager summarizing a conversation after it takes place. 

Managers should try to avoid opinions when documenting. Documentation should be factual, detailed, and complete so that anybody referring to it can easily understand what was discussed.

4. What to Include in Every Performance Documentation

Performance documentation doesn’t need to be complicated. It should be simple and typically only needs a few things:

  • The date the conversation took place or feedback was provided
  • A summary of the facts that were discussed regarding the employee’s performance
  • Signatures or acknowledgements from everyone that was involved (in the case of formal reviews)

The points listed above are the basis for performance documentation. Managers should provide as much detail or information as necessary to inform future discussions and evaluations.

5. How to Manage the Performance Documentation Process

Today’s technology options offer flexibility and simplicity for managing the employee performance documentation process. 

Performance management software allows organizations to facilitate continuous feedback for any review process and store it all in one place. 

By using performance management software, managers can document both positive and constructive feedback as it comes up, rather than waiting until a formal review to discuss.

Looking to level-up performance documentation in your organization? PerformYard facilitates ongoing feedback to recognize achievement, document individual performance, and track notes. Learn More

Documenting employee performance is a key component of continuous feedback and effective performance management. And documentation shouldn’t only matter in the case of discipline or termination—it should be an ongoing process. 

The key takeaway: Every time performance is discussed, it should be documented (even when it doesn’t involve pink slips or strikes).

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The Halo and Horn Effect in Performance Reviews (And How You Can Avoid It)

With effective training and performance review standardization, the Halo Effect and Horn Effect can be mitigated.

Ever been at a company where it felt like no matter how hard you were working, you were being negatively judged by something beyond your control? 

Or on the contrary, have you ever been at an organization where everything your colleague did was somehow seen as gold, even though their work wasn’t really all that stellar? 

You may have fallen victim to the Halo/Horn Effect—a type of implicit bias where work and performance are either positively or negatively magnified based on an unrelated attribute. Sometimes this attribute is physical, and work performance is unfairly judged based on appearance. Other times, this attribute can be past performance—if an employee did a poor job on one project, their boss may seem to find fault in all of their future projects. 

These implicit biases can cause inaccurate performance reviews and ineffective management, which can result in promotions going to employees who aren’t top performers, and good performers being held back unfairly. 

However, with some effective training and performance review standardization, the Halo and Horn Effect can be mitigated, ensuring that fair and accurate appraisals are conducted for all employees across your organization.

What is the Halo and Horn Effect?

The Halo and Horn Effect is a type of implicit bias where one’s performance is viewed through an unfair lens (either positive or negative) that comes from an unrelated attribute, such as personality, physical traits, or previous work experience. 

As an example, a coworker who is overweight is significantly less likely to be hired, promoted, or given a raise compared to a thinner employee. Their weight has nothing to do with their job performance, and yet a manager’s implicit biases can cause them to attach this unrelated attribute to the employee’s quality of work. 

The Halo and Horn Effect in Performance Appraisal

It can be very easy for the Halo and Horn Effect to creep its way into performance appraisals if your process isn’t objective or doesn’t allow for multiple reviewers. 

For example, if the performance review is simply a rating of 1-5 (where 1 is a poor performer and 5 is a top performer) and a reviewer doesn’t have an objective rubric to base their rating on, a manager’s implicit biases can easily color their perception of an employee’s performance. 

The Halo and Horn Effect in performance appraisals is an extension of a manager’s subjective feelings about the quality of an employee’s performance. When a performance appraisal is so loosely structured that it allows a manager’s subjectivity to dominate a review, these implicit biases can seep in. 

Even innocuous questions such as “How well does this employee work in a team?” or “Where does an employee need improvement?” can leave the door wide open for the Halo or Horn Effect to cloud the accuracy of an evaluation.

An Example of the Halo and Horn Effect in a Performance Appraisal

Sarah botched a major presentation a few months ago. It wasn’t great—she was nervous, some of her slides didn’t work correctly, and her data was outdated. 

Her manager, Jess, couldn’t move past this mistake. Instead of helping Sarah learn from her mistakes and work with her to correct them, Jess micromanaged Sarah for the rest of the year because she was convinced that Sarah couldn’t be trusted. Every time Sarah made a spelling mistake or a tiny error, Jess collected more proof that Sarah was a poor employee. 

When it came time to conduct Sarah’s performance review using a 1-5 scoring system, Jess simply checked 2: unsatisfactory. 

For her rationale, Jess wrote, “Sarah makes many mistakes and I am always having to correct her work. She can’t be trusted to work alone.” 

That doesn’t seem very fair, right? In this example, Sarah is suffering from the Horn Effect. But how can your organization avoid the Halo Horns Effect?

How Do You Avoid the Halo Horns Effect?

With some proactive planning, your organization can avoid and overcome the Halo/Horns Effect. Here are three specific tactics that can help. 

1. Create an Objective Review Process

For performance reviews, it’s essential to have a standardized and objective review process. Every employee evaluation should include the same questions and scores should be weighted the same. It’s often beneficial to have performance reviews based on quantifiable metrics, such as goals. 

If Sarah’s organization used a goal-based rubric, Jess could look at the data and realize that Sarah has made 125% of her sales this year. By using this data, she would objectively have to mark that Sarah had exceeded the goals that they had agreed upon. 

Even if Jess had written some poor comments in Sarah’s review, the performance-based data would be seen by HR, who could address the discrepancy between Sarah’s objective performance and Jess’s perception. 

See how PerformYard can help you create an objective review process. Learn More

2. Incorporate 360 Reviews 

360 reviews can also mitigate the Halo and Horns Effect in the workplace by increasing the number of reviewers per employee. Even if Sarah’s boss, Jess, unfairly docked Sarah on her performance review because of that one presentation, her colleagues would be able to give her glowing reviews based on her awesome sales performance. 

By increasing the number of reviews per person, a more accurate picture is developed and outliers can be quickly identified. If 360 reviews were incorporated, HR would be able to see that something is off with Jess’s review of Sarah.

3. Use A Performance Management Software

As mentioned previously, a standardized performance review process can help combat the Halo and Horns effect. Performance management software is a great way for HR professionals to standardize the performance review process for their organization. 

By using a performance management software, HR professionals can clearly define how employees are being evaluated and ensure that managers are using the same criteria for every employee.

Performance management software also gives you data to measure employee performance, which can be used to inform reviews. Using the data provided, HR can see how an employee’s performance has changed over time. 

If an employee had consistent glowing reviews that suddenly dropped once their manager changed, HR could investigate and see if there was a personality issue rather than a performance issue.

If you’re looking for a great performance management software to help you avoid the Halo and Horns effect, check out PerformYard. PerformYard has the ability to measure performance through more objective measures like goal completion, which helps prevent subjective pressures.

Request a demo and we’ll show you even more features to measure performance and streamline your process.

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3 Elements of Performance Management (And Why You Should Focus On Them)

Structured reviews, goals, and continuous feedback come together to create a complete performance management strategy.

From Adobe’s “Check-In” to Google’s “OKRs”, there are dozens of performance management tactics out there. 

No matter what performance management approach you choose for your organization, we believe an effective performance management process is centered on three elements: holding structured reviews, setting goals, and providing continuous feedback.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these elements to better understand how they work together to create a complete performance management strategy.

Structured Reviews

Annual reviews have gotten a bad rap in recent years, but some form of long-term structured feedback should still be the backbone of any performance management strategy. You can call them quarterly conversations, year-end check-ins, development discussions or something else, but the important thing is that you provide a place for discussions about long-term performance.

Some of the most meaningful feedback employees can receive will be about long-term trends, high-level development opportunities, overall performance, or their career progression. These types of discussions often struggle to find their place amongst everyday responsibilities. By creating a structured review process, organizations make space for these important conversations.

Most of the issues with annual reviews come from poor processes, rather than an issue with long-term feedback. Consider simplifying your forms, asking more open-ended questions, increasing the frequency, and soliciting more sources of feedback (e.g. 360 reviews). These changes can help you maintain the benefits of long-term feedback while fixing many of the issues with annual reviews.


Goals in performance management are the bridge between talking about performance and taking action on feedback. Whatever form it takes, performance management should never solely focus on the past. The reason for performance discussions is to drive positive change in the future. Goals are the best way to ensure this important next step is taken.

When goals are set coming out of a performance discussion, the conversation is forced towards actionable next steps. This creates a more constructive dynamic and ensures that managers and employees collaborate not just on where to improve, but how to improve. Additionally, well-set goals will include a due date, which means that feedback will be followed up on. 

Create a process where goals are continuously managed throughout the year with PerformYard. Learn More

Structured reviews and goal setting come together to create a system where performance is discussed, next steps are agreed on, and progress is reviewed. This begins to form the primary cycle of an effective performance management process.

Continuous Feedback

Continuous feedback ties the long-term feedback from structured reviews and the intentions set through goals to a person’s everyday work.

Without a process for more continuous feedback, the review and goal-setting cycle can start to feel disconnected from a person’s day-to-day experience. Feedback takes the role of tying everything together. 

Imagine that during a quarterly check-in, your manager shares they believe you could benefit from a “systems approach” to your work. Maybe that’s good feedback, but you two are probably a long way from being on the same page about what that means. Your manager may even try to provide examples, but it’s hard to remember the details of what happened months ago.

Continuous feedback creates the opportunity for your manager to bring up this idea in the exact moment that it’s relevant. As a result, you are able to discuss their feedback with the context of the project you just finished working on.

If the systems approach idea comes up multiple times throughout the quarter, you’ll be better prepared to discuss what to do about it during your quarterly check-in.

Managers who provide some form of continuous feedback, either in real-time, through 1:1s, or another way create a base of ideas that they can pull from at review time.

Reviews, Goals, and Feedback: A Continuous Cycle

When done right, reviews, goals, and continuous feedback can reinforce each other in a complete cycle of performance management. 

Continuous feedback is a constant source of new ideas for performance improvement, reviews are an opportunity to reflect on and discuss that feedback over the long term, goals help turn the conversation into action, and then feedback comes back in to reinforce goal progress and continues to raise new ideas for the next review and goal-setting cycle.

This cycle helps employees reflect on their performance, take action, monitor their improvement, and then reflect again. Almost every performance management approach can be broken down to this type of cycle and these three elements. 


The examples below illustrate two ways organizations can bring the elements of performance management together in a complete process.

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Acme Corporation is a software company that has about 150 employees. Acme’s performance management system focuses on cultural alignment and employees are evaluated on how well they live up to cultural values. 

Acme conducts an annual review at the end of every year where managers review long-term performance, goals, and feedback with their employees. After the structured reviews take place, goals are set for the upcoming year. Weekly 1:1s are held throughout the year to facilitate continuous feedback. Feedback is recorded and saved to reference for the next structured review and goal-setting cycle.

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Wayne Enterprises is an accounting firm that has 40 employees. Wayne Enterprises uses a development focused performance management strategy where employees are evaluated on growth or pursuit of development. The organization conducts an annual 360 review with five raters at the end of each year.

After annual reviews are completed, employees set goals for the new year. Employees have a 1:1 meeting with their manager every other week to discuss what they’re working on, how their work supports their goals, and what progress is being made towards their goals. A check-in is held at the end of each quarter to review previous goals and set goals for the new quarter. Managers use notes from quarterly check-ins and 1:1 meetings to conduct the annual review. 

While the process looks different for Acme and Wayne Enterprises, both processes bring structured reviews, goals, and continuous feedback together into a continuous cycle that supports organizational goals and efforts. 

No matter how you choose to bring them together, each element should work together to complete your performance management process.

If you’re looking to manage the elements of performance management in one place and streamline your process, check out PerformYard—a powerful performance management software. PerformYard makes it easy to set goals, conduct reviews, and gather real-time feedback.

Request a demo or visit our website to see how PerformYard's deep feature set can accommodate your unique performance management strategy.

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