Performance Management Resources

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

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Performance Management Software FAQs

We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you understand everything you need to know about performance management software.

At PerformYard, we believe performance management software is critical for executing a modern performance management strategy.

But what exactly is performance management software, and how does it work? We’ve looked into the most frequently asked questions and compiled a comprehensive set of answers to help you understand everything you need to know about performance management software.

In this article, we'll cover:

What Is Performance Management Software?

Performance management software streamlines the complex processes and workflows associated with employee appraisals, performance check-ins, goal setting, one-on-ones, continuous feedback, development discussions, or any approach for managing feedback and improving employee performance.

The best software eliminates the administrative burden of performance management so employees and managers can focus all their energy on providing high quality feedback.

What Is Performance Management Software Used For?

Performance management software is used to coordinate performance feedback and discussion across an organization.

After HR teams lay out a performance management strategy, they need an effective way to administer their strategy to every employee.

Performance management software can prompt employees with the next activity at the right time, rather than relying on complicated instructions or emails that go unread. 

How Does Performance Management Software Work?

The best performance management software will adapt to your performance management strategy.

The HR team will design a process of reviews, check-ins, goals, feedback, or some combination, then the software will convert that strategy into a set of tasks for every employee to complete. This creates clarity and accountability, along with high participation rates. Ultimately, employees get better and more frequent feedback as a result.

Why Is Performance Management Software Important?

Performance management software is important because the success of a performance management strategy depends on the participation of employees.

When the process is confusing or time-consuming, it is directly taking away from the quality of the feedback employees will both give and receive. “My manager just copies and pastes feedback” and other common complaints about performance appraisals are often the result of managers overwhelmed by bloated, irrelevant, and outdated processes.

What Is the Purpose of Performance Management Software?

The purpose of performance management software is to automate the administrative burden associated with performance review cycles.

When performance management software is used, HR spends less time managing the review process and managers spend less time completing reviews. As reviews are completed, employee data is automatically collected, encrypted and stored for easy access in the future.

Who Uses Performance Management Software?

Performance management software is most commonly implemented and managed by human resources professionals and departments.

HR sets up the performance management software, but every employee in an organization uses it. Because of this, it’s important that the performance management software you choose provides flexibility for the HR team and simple experience for employees.

What Are the Key Features of a Good Performance Management Software?

Good performance management software should be customizable and adaptable to your organization’s needs. Because every employee will be using performance management software to some extent, it also needs to be easy to use.

Performance management software companies should assign a dedicated success manager assigned to your organization to ensure success. 

If you want to learn more about the key features of a good performance management software, check out this article.  

What Are the Benefits of Performance Management Software?

Performance management software gets rid of the headaches and paper-pushing associated with performance review processes and saves HR professionals and employees tons of time.

When an organization implements performance management software, they are able to focus more of their energy on feedback and less of their time on administrative burdens like, finding forms, emailing questions, sending reminders, etc. 

What Are the Limitations of Performance Management Software?

Some performance management software can limit the HR team’s ability to design a performance management process that’s right for their organization. This can look like limited options for cycle timing, question types, integrated goal-setting, sources of feedback and much more.

It’s important to walk through your planned approach with someone at the performance management solution before buying.

At PerformYard we strive to accommodate the widest range of performance management strategies. 

Why Do Organizations Use Performance Management Software?

Organizations use performance management software because it’s necessary to run modern and more complex performance management strategies.

As the frequency and sources of feedback increase, home-grown systems start to break down. Poor processes ultimately lead to less and worse feedback for employees.

High quality performance management software can correct this issue and put the emphasis back on effective feedback.

How Do You Evaluate Performance Management Software?

To evaluate performance management software, you should focus on a few key questions:

  • Can the software accommodate our approach?
  • Will the software be easy for employees to use?
  • Will the software be easy to implement and will we be given support?
  • Do we get ongoing support? 
  • Are there any hidden fees (like limited features, implementation charges, or support charges)?

Check out our article: The Most Important Features to Consider When Selecting Performance Management Software for a deeper dive on each of these elements. 

What Should I Look For in Performance Management Software?

What you look for in performance management software will depend on your performance management strategy.

You should work through your performance management approach in detail with your chosen solution to ensure it can accommodate your process.

Every solution is different: some may prioritize goal-setting functionality, while others focus on project based reviews.

Choose a few options and get a live product demonstration of each one to ensure the software can support your goals.

Can Per­for­mance Man­age­ment Soft­ware Help with Employ­ee Development?

Yes—performance management software is the first step in employee development.

Effective employee development starts with constructive feedback that points an employee’s development efforts in the right direction.

Performance management software can create an environment for continuous high-quality feedback, helping employees focus their efforts in areas that will lead to growth and development.

How Do You Implement Performance Management Software?

The first step to implementing performance management software is to build out your performance management approach in the software. Choose your cycle timing, participants, questions, and more.

Next, register your employees in the new system and provide a quick training to get everybody started.

Finally, announce and launch your first cycle, which will trigger alerts and to-do tasks for all of your participants.

What Are the Challenges Faced in Implementing Performance Management Software?

The most common challenge to implementing performance management software is the very high stakes.

Performance management strategies impact every employee in the organization, and mistakes are costly and public. That’s why it’s so important to have a dedicated support person who can act as your second set of eyes and ensure success in your organization.

Learn More About Performance Management Software

If you’re interested in seeing how performance management software can benefit your organization, request a demo and we’ll show you how PerformYard's #1 rated software offers flexible features for HR and creates a simple employee experience.

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9 Strategies for Effective Performance Management

Create an effective performance management strategy for your organization by following these 9 strategies.

Effective performance management isn’t a one-time event—it’s a process (or at least it should be).

To create an effective performance management process, HR professionals need to provide employees with feedback and direction to achieve organizational goals.

How can this be done? We’re sharing 9 reliable strategies to help you create a strong process for your organization below. 

1. Align Performance Management With Organizational Objectives

In order to be effective, your performance management process needs to support the organization’s priorities and objectives. When performance goals are based on strategic objectives, employees are able to focus their time on activities that will generate results. Purpose drives process, therefore aligning your performance management strategy with organizational objectives will help create a coherent, systematic process. 

2. Set Clear Expectations

You can't manage performance without first knowing what good performance looks like. Do your employees clearly know what you expect of them? Effective performance management requires crystal-clear expectations.  

So, how are clear expectations set and defined? You may refer to job descriptions, goal setting activities, and cultural values when setting expectations. Being straightforward will help ensure that employees are focused on activities that drive performance results. 

3. Provide Quality Feedback

Quality feedback drives effective performance management. Unfortunately, many managers and supervisors have never been formally trained on how to give feedback. If you don’t already have a process in place to train managers and supervisors to provide effective feedback, now is the time to put this on your radar. The impact of performance management is a direct result of the feedback provided, which makes quality feedback a crucial element of effective performance management. 

4. Initiate Performance Conversations

Effective performance management isn’t about completing forms—it’s about having meaningful and ongoing performance conversations. Check-ins provide an opportunity for managers and employees to discuss performance, share feedback, and review expectations. Make sure that ample time, focus, and energy are devoted to these important conversations.  

5. Tie Performance to Everyday Work 

When creating an effective performance management strategy, daily performance should be directly tied to long-term results. Conversations around performance shouldn’t just happen during formal performance reviews. Instead, ensure a culture of feedback through systems like regular 1-on-1s, weekly and monthly conversations, and recognition programs.

6. Review Goals Periodically

Because performance management is a process and not an event, goal setting should be fluid. Effective performance conversations should include a focus on outcomes, changing priorities, and new directions. The following questions may be helpful in guiding goal-setting conversations:

  • What are the next steps employees should take? 
  • What kind of follow-up and check-ins will you do? 
  • How often will you review and potentially revise goals to ensure ongoing performance alignment with business priorities? 

A lot can change for an organization, both internally and externally, so goals should be revisited as often as necessary. Asking thoughtful questions and frequently revisiting goals will help make your performance management process more efficient. 

7. Give Frequent Feedback

As we’ve already noted, performance feedback should be built into performance conversations on a regular, ongoing basis. To make your performance management process more effective, consider giving more frequent feedback. This may look like going from an annual review to quarterly reviews, adding goal check-ins, and holding weekly 1-on-1s. An effective performance management process will ensure that managers and supervisors are engaging regularly with their staff and providing feedback to help keep everybody focused and on track.

8. Gather Feedback From Multiple Sources

Traditionally, managers and supervisors have been the primary (and sometimes sole) source of performance feedback. But managers aren’t the only ones who have a line of sight to evaluate and provide input on employee performance. Peers, customers, mentors, project leads, dotted-line managers, and employees themselves should be part of the process of providing feedback. Multiple sources of feedback help contribute to an effective performance management process and ensure that employees are getting all of the insights they need to improve their performance. 

9. Create a Streamlined Process

The easier it is for managers and supervisors to manage the performance management process, the more likely they’ll be to establish an effective environment where feedback is ongoing. The process should be streamlined for employees as well. Technology can certainly help here by sending alerts, follow-up reminders, prompts, and more. The acronym “K.I.S.S.”—keep it short and simple—definitely applies here. Performance management is about feedback, not learning complicated and convoluted processes. Offer clear next steps with ongoing prompts and alerts to keep performance management top-of-mind for both managers and employees.

Creating an Effective Performance Management Process

As you consider how to create and implement an effective performance management process, remember that it’s not a one-time event. The strategies and best practices above will help you create a functional process for your organization. 

If you’re looking for a quick solution to create a powerful performance management experience, request a demo to see PerformYard in action. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key components of effective performance management?

Effective performance management draws on the elements of the process discussed here. Importantly, performance management should be considered a process, not a once-a-year event.

What makes a successful performance management system?

A successful performance management system requires alignment between organizational and individual goals designed to achieve business objectives. Continual conversations between managers, employees, and others, with an eye toward achieving measurable outcomes, can help ensure success.

What does successful performance management look like?

The best measure of successful performance management is success. Performance management is designed to manage the performance of employees to achieve organizational goals. If you’re consistently doing that, your performance management process is successful. If not, it’s time to evaluate your process and make the necessary changes to get on track. Reviewing the process steps listed above can help.

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How to Streamline Performance Reviews

With a little prep and some ingenuity, you can automate and consolidate your performance review process, getting your employees the feedback they need.

Ever feel like your performance reviews are a “necessary evil?” When you send out that email saying, “Hey, time for your performance review cycle,” do you hear groans throughout the office? 

We get it. Old school, manual performance review can be tedious, drawn-out affairs that take way too long and suck up too much employee time. 
The good news is: it doesn’t have to be that way. 

You can streamline your performance reviews. 

With a little prep and some ingenuity, you can automate and consolidate your performance review process, getting your employees the feedback they need, and getting actionable data on the entire workforce without spending unnecessary weeks and months. 

Here’s how you can streamline your performance review cycle. 

How Does Streamlining Help? 

Streamlining your performance reviews is all about improving your performance review cycle by making it less taxing on your employees who complete and administer each review within a cycle. 
So what is streamlining? Let’s take a look at a very un-streamlined review process. 

The Old Way: A Frustrating Time Suck

HR decides that the cycle must kick off on November 10th and be completed by December 10th. HR manually sends out an email to each employee that says, “hello. You have until December 10th to complete your evaluations. Attached, are the forms you need to complete. Please fill them out, and then email them back to HR.” 

December 9th comes. Only 10% of the forms have been returned. HR manually follows up, emailing, “Don’t forget! You have 1 day to complete these forms!” 

The next day, 75% of the forms are completed. Now, HR has to manually go around and email each employee who hasn’t completed their review, taking up valuable employee time. 

This doesn’t even account for setting in-person review meetings, analyzing performance data, completing sign-offs or passing the completed forms to the right manager. It’s a disorganized disaster that falls upon HR to sort through and untangle before the holidays hit. 

Not. Fun. At. All. 

Streamlining: Easy and Engaging!

Streamlining makes this process easier. With streamlining, you automate and centralize the entire performance review process -- automatically sending out forms, following up with folks who haven’t completed their reviews, and storing the data in a centralized space that is easy to access. 

This process reduces the amount of manual back and forth required when employees forget to turn in their forms or when managers request previous years’ feedback when writing a current evaluation. It makes the process simpler, less confusing, and faster. 

And when your review process is easy, employees are more likely to provide you with actionable feedback.
Think about it: your employees have a thousand tasks they need to take care of. Completing a performance review is one task. If they have to spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down forms, figuring out how to save feedback onto a new format, attach the form, send the form -- all these manual elements -- they’re not going to spend that time actually being thoughtful about the feedback itself. They’ll be so encumbered by the admin side that they’ll blow through the feedback section just to get it done. 

That defeats the whole point.

When you take the frustrating, convoluted admin element out of the performance review process, your employees have more bandwidth to devote to the review itself. You get better, more thoughtful feedback that the organization and employees can use to make competent decisions for company strategy and development. 

How to Streamline Your Performance Review Process

Streamlining your performance review process is a net benefit to your company and workforce. It is possible to take some positive streamlining steps right away with the tools you already have at hand. But, if you want to really unlock the benefit of performance review streamlining, you’ll need to partner up with a Performance Management System, like PerformYard. 

Let’s take a look at some steps you can take right now to improve your performance cycle.

1. Automate Everything 

From your review cycle announcement, to the feedback guides, to your performance review kickoff, you can and should automate all of these emails. Even without access to a great performance management system like PerformYard, you can schedule emails to auto-send at predetermined times. 

Schedule a heads up that your cycle will commence soon. Then schedule a kickoff email. After, schedule two or three emails as follow-ups throughout your review cycle. Then, schedule a better late than never email that goes out after the cycle has closed, just to pick up all the stragglers. 

You can write those emails months ahead of time. You can upload them to your email provider and schedule them weeks or months out. Then, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and watch the review forms come in. 

2. Make Forms Easy to Access and Easy to Find 

Review forms shouldn’t require jumping through hoops to access or complete. If you’re still doing manual files, make sure they’re in editable PDFs, and attach them to each reminder email. 
If you want to make things even more streamlined and centralized, consider a single portal for all forms. Google Forms is a great, budget-friendly solution. You can create your own Performance Review form, and simply send a link to your reviewers. Once they complete and submit their form, they will receive an email confirmation and copy of their submitted answers. 

3. PerformYard: Streamlined and Centralized 

The steps we outlined above are helpful, but have some drawbacks. When you automate emails through Gmail, you can’t automate reminder emails that only go to the people who haven’t completed their review? When you use Google forms, you can’t (as a manager) go in and find the relevant review for your direct hire from last year. 

You still have to do those manually. 

With PerformYard, you can do these steps automatically. PerformYard provides a single sign-on platform where administrators can create customized review templates, streamline messaging, send automatic nudges to employees who have yet to complete their reviews, and collate all performance review data in a single repository. 

Employees will have access to a single sign-on portal, where they can easily see what actions they need to complete, can access relevant reviews from past and present, and integrate their goal completion into their review process. Managers can examine a direct hire’s past and present performance while they complete their review -- all without leaving the PerformYard platform. 

We like to think of PerformYard as “streamlining” the streamlining process. We’re making efficiency even more efficient. 

Performance Reviews Can Be Easy 

When you streamline your performance review cycle, you liberate yourself from the headache-inducing admin and tedious repetition. Messaging is automated. Forms are easily collected, stored, and accessed. HR can easily examine company performance to make informed decisions for compensation, promotion, and company strategy.

With PerformYard, you take streamlining a step further. With a single centralized system accessed by employees, managers, HR, and leadership; you can automate messages and reminders, collect and analyze data seamlessly, and customize review templates to fit your organization’s needs. 

Curious to know how partnering with PerformYard can help you streamline your review process? Get a free PerformYard demo today!

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How to Improve Performance Appraisals

Most organizations are doing performance reviews wrong. We look at some strategic methods of performance appraisal and offer some performance review tips for managers and HR leaders. 

When it comes to performance appraisal, the old Nike slogan of “just do it” just doesn’t apply! Unfortunately, that’s the approach that many companies continue to take as they go through the motions of what has become a predictable, yet highly inefficient and extremely non-productive process of providing feedback to employees. 

There’s an interesting paradox for organizations when it comes to performance appraisal.

Employees don’t like the performance appraisal process. But, and here’s the paradox, they do, increasingly crave feedback. In fact, Gallup research has indicated that millennials, in particular, crave feedback—but they’re not getting it. Chief Learning Officer reports that: “Gallup reports only 19 percent of Gen Yers receive routine feedback from their managers. Then, only 17 percent of millennials report the feedback they do receive is meaningful. Gallup also found only 15 percent of millennials regularly ask for feedback.”

Because they’re not asking for feedback, supervisors and managers may be blithely assuming they don’t need it. They do—but not in the traditional way they’ve tended to receive feedback, in formal and frequently flawed performance review processes.

Purportedly designed to improve employee performance, typical review processes tend to do just the opposite. In fact, according to SHRM, a 2019 Gallup study found that “only about 10 percent of U.S. workers felt engaged after receiving negative feedback on the job,” and that Workhuman Analytics & Research found that “55 percent of workers believe annual reviews don’t improve their performance.”

The problem? By and large, most organizations are going about the performance review process all wrong. Yet they continue because, at some level, we all believe that feedback is important and that it should help to improve performance. But we struggle with how to make performance appraisal effective. Here we look at some strategic methods of performance appraisal and offer some performance review tips for managers and HR leaders. 

Strategic is the key word.

Make It Strategic

In many organizations the annual performance review process has been in place for some time and continues each year with only minor tweaks to the process—and the requisite forms (now largely electronic) that must be filled out, processed, and saved. It’s not an iterative process; it’s a repetitive process. What it tends to repeat are the same problems and issues that made the process ineffective—and led, ultimately, to the widespread negative views that many employees and managers hold—in the first place. 

Most performance review processes need a major overhaul. And not in the “flavor of the month” way that trendy ideas like OKRs or eliminating performance reviews altogether perpetuate.

Instead, HR leaders need to step back and consider why they’re conducting performance reviews in the first place.

And, actually, the pandemic and organizations’ experiences over the past several months have actually required many organizations to make major shifts in how they conduct their performance reviews. Some have taken advantage of the opportunity to improve and streamline their processes specifically with an eye toward making the process relevant for employees both on- and offsite.

It starts first with your organization’s needs. What results do you need performance reviews to drive? Accountability? Development? Recognition? Alignment? Values? Any of these may be relevant, but each must relate specifically to your organization and its unique operations. For example, if you’re hoping to drive accountability, but your organization doesn’t really have a solid process for measuring results, your performance review process is doomed to fail from the outset. If you’re hoping to boost employee development, but your largest employee segment is frontline workers who value a paycheck more than a promotion, you’re wasting your time.

Make It Frequent

We’ve referenced the “annual” performance review. That’s because, in most cases, the formal review process occurs on an annual basis. Even those involved in the process, though, would agree that once a year feedback is far from enough to help employees understand what they’re doing well, and where they may be able to improve—or to help managers understand the tools, resources and support they need to achieve personal, professional, and company objectives.

Again, what works best for your company and your employees and managers will vary. What won’t work is an annual review process. What might work is a process that involves quarterly check-ins, weekly one-on-ones, or continuous feedback. When it comes to methods of performance appraisal, more is more!

We know that more frequent, goal-focused check-ins drive professional development.

Make It Matter

Making performance review matter to your organization starts with a thorough understanding of the “why” behind performance review, as we’ve seen, as well as the alignment with desired strategic goals and objectives. Based on those goals and objectives, the organization, with advice and counsel from its HR leaders, needs to consider the knowledge, skills, and attributes (KSAs) needed by employees, the KSAs they have, and the gaps that exist.

But the review process should be more about focusing on development needs—and the future—then what employees did, or didn’t do, during the previous weeks or months.

Making the performance review process work—for employees, managers, and the organization—means focusing on developmental needs and desires and determining ways to close the gaps that may be keeping employees from getting to where they’d like to be and where they are today.

It also means having metrics in place to leverage data in smarter ways designed to inform career planning, hiring, and other key business decisions.

Next Steps

Let’s take a look at the flip side of Gallup’s data indicating that only 10 percent of employees feel engaged after receiving negative—we would say “constructive”—feedback. Gallup also tells us that “engaged employees are more likely to improve customer relationships, which results in a 20% increase in sales.”

An outdated, ineffective performance management system will not engage employees. A strategically designed, and carefully aligned, performance management system will.

The starting point: giving careful consideration to your why and what it will take to help your organization achieve its goals and objectives. Haven’t taken the time to take a deep dive into your company’s strategic plan and strategic objectives? It’s time you did.

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How to Implement Performance Management - Step-by-Step Checklist

A performance management system should be aligned and supportive of the organization’s goals. These are the steps to follow to implement an effective performance management system.

It’s a common conundrum in most management circles. Managers know that they need to give feedback to employees and that, theoretically, doing so can help boost performance and productivity. Yet most managers, and many employees, express dissatisfaction with the performance management system process that’s in place in their organizations. 

They’re labor intensive. They’re too infrequent. They’re based on faulty assumptions. They’re not aligned with overall organizational goals and objectives. They’re too subjective. They take too much time. And on and on and on. 

Part of the problem—in fact, a big part of the problem—is that the performance management framework wasn’t viewed and created holistically. Most of the time it’s a framework that has been developed over time and may no longer contain a cohesive line of sight from organizational strategic objectives to individual employee performance metrics.

Taking a process driven approach to developing a performance management system and process can help ensure that both managers and employees are engaged and that real, relevant and measurable outcomes are achieved.

A performance management system needs to be designed with the unique needs of an organization in mind. It should be aligned and supportive of the organization’s mission, vision and values. And it should provide a useful, and user-friendly process for gathering, sharing, and documenting feedback.

So, let’s take a look at the steps to follow to implement an effective performance management system.

1. Establish a performance management timeline

How often you should conduct formal reviews will depend on your organization’s strategic objectives, business model, sales cycles and other criteria that will vary from one company to another. We believe that your performance management process should be as unique as your company is. While reviews have traditionally been done on an annual basis, many people believe that this is far too infrequent—including employees who prefer to have more frequent development-related discussions with their managers. 

2. Determine who should evaluate employee performance

Who should conduct performance reviews and evaluate employee performance? The answer to this question can be both simple and complex. Clearly, those who evaluate employee performance should be those most familiar with the work the employee is doing. But, while it may seem that the manager is the obvious choice, the truth is that others may actually be more aware of employee performance—peers, mentors, even customers. This is the reason that 360 degree reviews have become common in many organizations; it’s a process that involves gathering feedback from a wide range of people who can offer insights into employees’ performance. 

3. Choose performance review questions

Asking the right questions as part of the performance review process is critical to ensuring that the feedback will be relevant and aligned with organizational and individual goals. Start with a focus on your purpose for the review. Once you’re clear about your intent, it’s important to frame questions so they are clear and non-biased. The intent of each question should align with the intent of your performance management strategy. Another aspect of performance review questions are ratings. Having a scale with an odd number of choices will result in a neutral option. If you want to “force” a positive/negative choice use an even number of options—for instance a 4-point versus a 5-point scale.  

4. Set performance management goals

Establish your goals or approach to goal setting. Will you include some form of goal setting and goal check-ins to help translate performance discussions into action? This is an important consideration because performance reviews should be more forward-looking than backward-looking. In practice, though, too often reviews focus more on past behavior. We believe that reviews should be more developmental—your employees do too. Managers should work with employees to develop performance management goals that are both aligned with organizational goals and reflect employees’ own personal and professional desires. As you set goals, keeping the SMART acronym in mind can help ensure that they’re focused and specific.

5. Consider an employee feedback process

While your formal performance management system may occur on a semi-annual, monthly, or some other timeline, continuous feedback is important. It’s important to think about your employee feedback process and whether it offers feedback, guidance and both positive and constructive feedback regularly enough to ensure employees are getting the coaching and counseling they need. Today’s employees, more than ever, crave that kind of input from their managers and others. Your employee feedback process may occur through 1-on-1s or check-ins, as part of monthly dashboard reviews, etc. Cultivating a culture of continuous feedback can help ensure employees are focused on the right goals and objectives and have the resources and support to be successful.  

6. Introduce employee and manager training

Performance management systems are only as good as the interactions they drive between managers and employees. Training everyone, but especially managers, to deliver quality and effective feedback is important to ensure your performance management process is working the way you want it to. Don’t assume that managers—even seasoned managers—have the knowledge and competencies they need to conduct performance evaluations effectively, especially if their experience comes from working in other organizations. Again, each organization is unique and each organization’s performance review process will be different. Make sure you’re taking the time to train your managers, and employees, to participate in reviews that will drive results.

7. Tie it together with performance management software

Successful performance management is about more than just forms and meetings. It’s dependent on a number of steps and processes all coming together to create an aligned and smoothly flowing system. How will you alert employees, and managers, about what they need to do next? How will you follow up with managers who are falling behind? How will you stage reviews when you have more than one source of feedback? How will you ensure anonymous feedback doesn't get released? Will you have HR or managers sign-off on reviews? How will you store and control access to the data? How will you analyze the data? And on and on. Keeping track of, and staying on top of the many moving parts of an effective, and continuous, performance management system can be aided significantly by tying it all together with performance management software. PerformYard supplies the flexibility and personalization you need. 

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SMART Goal Setting with PerformYard

Set and achieve your SMART goals through PerformYard’s “smart” goal-setting software. Our suite of goal-setting and performance management tools will empower your workforce.

Set and achieve your SMART goals through PerformYard’s “smart” goal-setting software.

Our suite of goal-setting and performance management tools will empower your workforce to create and accomplish actionable goals throughout the performance review cycle.

Find time with one of our product experts to get a look at what it's like to use performance management software for SMART goal setting. Learn More

Align Your Workforce with SMART Goals in PerformYard

What good are goals if you can’t measure them? That is one of the biggest pitfalls of goal-setting: ensuring that goals are measurable. Organizations need to be able to measure employee progress, track this progress against benchmarks, and understand the rate at which an employee is developing. 

Using SMART goals solves this problem. SMART goals are goals that are: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based 

With a SMART goal system, you couldn’t simply create a goal that says, “boost my sales numbers.” That’s not specific or time-based, though it is measurable and relevant. 

Instead, you’d come up with a goal that might say, “increase my ad sales by 30% in the next six months.” Now, we have a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Our employee has six months (time based) to increase ad sales (specific, relevant) by 30% (measurable, attainable). 

This is an excellent SMART goal. Progress on this excellent SMART goal needs to be tracked, so that the employee and the manager know if the employee is on track to meet this goal, or if they need to make some changes to achieve the goal in six months. 

That’s where a robust SMART goal software like PerformYard comes into play. PerformYard empowers employees to set goals, track, and achieve their goals. Managers can see employee progress, check in with employees to redirect efforts, and integrate employee goal data into the review cycle. 

Let’s take a look into how PerformYard can empower your workforce to set and achieve their SMART goals. 

Key Features of SMART Goal Software in PerformYard

PerformYard’s goal software lets you fully customize the SMART goal setting process for your organization. You can also integrate goals with the rest of your performance management strategy. No matter if you use quarterly reviews, annual reviews, 360 reviews, or continuous feedback, PerformYard has the tools to help you set, track, and achieve your SMART goals. 

Set Individual goals, Track Individual Progress

Every member of your team can set their goals, building them out as specifically and incrementally as they wish. Goals can be placed under multiple categories, be given due dates, and even have checklists that employees can complete as they make progress on their goals. 

Within each goal, there’s space for employees and managers to leave comments and feedback, enabling clear communication throughout the review cycle. As an employee logs progress on their goal, their goal percentage will rise, providing an easy way for management to see how their workforce is progressing on their SMART goals.

Tie Goals into Performance Reviews

Come review time, PerformYard makes it easy to tie goals into the performance review process. When a manager is completing a review (be it a quarterly review, annual review, project reviews or any other type), they see every goal that their direct hire has been working on -- right in the review portal. Managers can, without leaving the review, see their employees’ progress, see where they achieved their SMART goals, and see where they may have fallen a little short. SMART goal performance can then be easily factored into the review itself. 

Performance Insights

Managers and Executive teams can easily get a bird’s eye view of how teams and individual employees are progressing on their views. Through PerformYard’s data visualizations and metrics reports, it’s easy to see where resources may need to be deployed and where others are exceeding expectations. 

Plus, PerformYard allows you to examine any employee or team’s performance relative to their historical performance. Now, you can see that Samantha has completed 3 more goals this year than she did last year. Nice going, Samantha! 

Additional Features

PerformYard makes setting SMART goals easy and effective. Here are some other great features that our clients love. 

  • Weight Goals
  • Make certain goals worth more for an employee’s overall performance score
  • Cascading Goals 
  • Have subgoals to support individual goals, or have individual goals that support organizational goals. 
  • Goal Check-ins
  • Schedule monthly or weekly goal check-ins to guarantee that employees are on the right track, or adjust goals if they are no longer feasible. 

Excited to see how PerformYard can get you on track to set and achieve those SMART goals? We definitely are! Click here to see how we can work together!

What is SMART Goal Software?

SMART goal software like PerformYard helps organizations track goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based. Users can assign goals to team members, track progress, and review data to make performance management more efficient.

Benefits of Using PerformYard for SMART Goal Tracking

The SMART goal system helps you focus on what is important for your employee and your organization to achieve. 

By being specific, you focus on an objective that you can clearly achieve or fail to achieve. 

By being measurable, managers and employees can track progress and see when an employee met the goal or by how much an employee exceeded the goal. 

By being attainable, you create a practical goal that an employee will be driven to complete. 

By being relevant, you ensure that each employee’s goals supports the company’s greater vision. 

By being time-based, you instill a sense of purpose and urgency, leading to a higher goal completion rate. 

SMART goals are measurable and actionable -- goals that employees can achieve, and whose achievement can be used to form the basis of performance reviews. 

PerformYard is the ideal software for combining goal management and performance review. PerformYard keeps your goals centrally located, provides updates and analysis automatically, and integrates your goals automatically into your performance management process.

This integration streamlines and improves your performance review cycle. Now, managers can see how their direct hires have met and exceeded their defined objectives during the review period -- all without leaving the performance review platform. Everything is integrated! Everything is simple. 

But don’t just take our word for it. Have a look at how PerformYard has helped some of our clients improve their performance management process. 

“PerformYard has streamlined our quarterly review process and has made feedback and goal setting so much easier!” - Vanessa from CFGI
“PerformYard has exceeded our expectations and the entire team has been an outstanding partner to us. We were able to implement an automated performance review process (goal setting, reviews, and feedback tools) in a short period of time.” - Jaymie for Dermira, Inc.

We’re really excited about how PerformYard can streamline and automate your performance management process -- from SMART goal setting to performance reviews. 

Get in touch to see how PerformYard can help you set and achieve your SMART goals!

Resources Related to SMART Goal Setting

How to Write SMART Goals (University of California)

Why SMART Goals are Important

The Anatomy of an Effective Goal

Your Smart Goals Aren’t Smart Enough (SHRM Community)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are SMART goals examples?

SMART goals turn vague goals into concrete goals by making them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. For example, “I want to enhance customer service” becomes, “By next year, I want my customer service feedback score to be 20% higher.”

How do you set SMART goals in 2021?

Ask questions of everyone on your team about what they want to accomplish this year and where they would like to see improvement. Remember: focus on big-picture results and make each goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. Using a template as you make your SMART goal can help you iron out the nitty-gritty of goal setting, like what milestones you will use to measure their progress with. Once your goals are underway, you can track their progress with software like PerformYard.

What are the criteria for SMART goals?

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based so that employees have concrete, practical steps they can take to complete each task, and managers have clear data they can use to grade employee performance.

What are the pros and cons of SMART goals?

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based goals encourage teams to create goals that are achievable and measurable. This is great when it comes to measuring employee growth and performance. However, because of the focus on achievability, SMART goals can cause people to set their goals artificially low so that they aren’t penalized if they don’t achieve a difficult goal. Teams can preempt this issue by having frank conversations about balancing achievability and ambition.

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How to Improve Performance Management: Key Factors for HR

Here we help you break down your performance management process and suggest ways you can improve it with a systematic, process-driven approach. 

Performance management is an ongoing challenge in most organizations for a wide range of reasons. Chief among them is that they’re often built on random strategies, tactics, and best practices insights gleaned over time. But improving performance management processes isn’t about pulling another strategy off the shelf—or from the most recent article you saw on LinkedIn.

If competency ratings are failing, OKRs are not the solution. In fact, it’s literally impossible to identify what the solution might be without a way of diagnosing the underlying problem.

Effective performance management is created systematically. Effective performance management is about prompting employees to provide feedback on other employees for a business purpose. If this isn’t working for you, chances are it’s related to the overall reason behind your process, the prompts or process you’re using to gather input, the feedback employees are giving, the follow-through, and your overall approach to managing the process. 

Here we help you break down your performance management process and suggest ways you can improve it with a systematic, process-driven approach. 

Streamline your process

If your performance management process has been built piece-by-piece over time, chances are that it’s a mess. Nobody—including HR leadership—knows, for sure, exactly how the process should work from beginning to end. Managers and employees—many who may be new to the organization with no history of how this process has evolved—are often confused and unsure about exactly what they need to do and when.  

Is there a specific form to be used? Should managers (or employees) gather 360-degree feedback? Is there a form required for that? Should employees be formally reviewed before, on, or within a certain time after their formal hire date?  Is a formal review required? Does the manager need to have their manager review the review? And on, and on, and on.

Each of these steps may seem inconsequential, but when taken as a whole, they combine to create a process that can be difficult or even impossible to navigate. 

How does your process currently work? What are the steps? What steps add value? What steps are unnecessary? Who should perform each step? How should they document what they do? 

Taking an inventory of your existing process and then considering how an ideal process should work can be a good starting point for building/or rebuilding a better system. 

If it’s hard for employees—and managers—to participate in your performance management process or they don’t know what to do next, you have a system that is broken.  

Find your purpose

Having a performance management process because companies have performance management processes is not enough of a reason to have one! What’s the purpose behind your process? Why are you putting in place a method for employees to receive feedback from their managers and others? What outcomes are you hoping to attain? How will you know if your process is a success?

Many performance management processes lack purpose. Without a clear purpose it is, of course, impossible to measure effectiveness. We have pointed to five purposes behind performance management. They are:

  • To hold people accountable. While a focus on accountability has fallen a bit out of favor in recent years, it still—for some companies—has a place.
  • To help people develop. This purpose has almost replaced the old focus on holding people accountable as organizations recognize the need to continually build a pipeline of talent not only for leadership positions but to fill other critical roles as well. 
  • To recognize people for their efforts. Recognition is, arguably, an important potential purpose for the work they’ve done. Where this purpose can fall short, though, is where it’s used as the only way people are recognized for their efforts—and often only once a year.
  • To ensure alignment. A performance management process that is designed to create alignment from the top down, and the bottom up, of an organization can help to ensure that everyone is spending their limited resources—time and money—appropriately, and in concert. 
  • To reinforce values. This can be a great purpose to help make values real—to move them beyond something that hangs on the wall to something that employees consider every day as they do their work and make decisions. 

These are the five key purposes behind process management—the why behind the effort taken to share feedback with employees in some formal manner. Importantly, though, you must choose one purpose—not attempt to somehow build in all five! 

Train your managers

Do you assume that new managers hired into your organization know how to conduct effective performance reviews? Do you assume that employees promoted into supervisory, or management positions will know how to do so? Both assumptions lead to inconsistencies and frustration—for management staff as well as employees.

Training is critical to ensure that all supervisory and management staff understand the why behind the process (your purpose) as well as the how—the steps to take to ensure consistency and alignment across the organization. 

It’s also important to understand that training needs to be an ongoing process not just a “one and done” event that takes place when a new manager is hired. As we’ve already discussed, over time things can change and, face it, supervisors and managers have a lot of competing priorities—it’s easy for performance management processes to fade into the background as they focus on other responsibilities. Regular reminders and ready access to information, FAQs, forms, tips, etc., are critical to provide a foundation for ongoing awareness and understanding. 

Fix your prompts

When is the last time you conducted an audit of your performance management process and the forms you use? When is the last time you sought feedback from those using the forms about how challenging, confusing, or arduous the process might be? 

Some review forms can be exceedingly long, hard to understand and contain questions that really are no longer relevant, if they ever were. 

Keep it relevant

Performance management shouldn’t be a check-the-box activity, or a paper-pushing exercise. If you ask managers and employees to complete performance review documents and then never actually look at them or do anything with them, you have a big disconnect and a clear clue that your process is not designed to achieve measurable and relevant outcomes. 

Effective performance management systems today do not rely on a once-a-year exercise—they involve ongoing check-ins and conversations throughout the year to ensure that employees understand what’s required of them, have the resources to achieve their goals and objectives, and have the support to address personal and professional development needs. 

Make sure performance management is not a paper-pushing exercise. If you’ve generated a bunch of forms and then never look at them again, you’re doing it wrong. Add check-ins to spread conversations throughout the year. Use reviews to discuss performance, goals to set intentions, and feedback to connect performance and goals to day-to-day. We’ve used these philosophies to build PerformYard so our users can easily manage an organized, simple and timely process that supports your big-picture goals.

Step back to take a systematic approach to performance management for real and relevant results.

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Best Practices for Building a Performance Management Metrics Strategy

HR leaders are often tasked with creating, or revising/overhauling their organizations' performance management metrics strategy.

HR leaders are often tasked with creating, or revising/overhauling their organizations' performance management metrics strategy, and making recommendations to senior leadership about what they feel needs to be done. That can be a daunting task. Today’s HR professionals, fortunately, have access to the data and technology they need to help them not simply “come up with metrics,” but to design a performance management strategy aligned with corporate goals and strategic objectives. That’s the way to earn that coveted seat at the table and the respect of senior leaders and board members.

So how do you get there? Here we take a look at some best practices for building a performance management metrics strategy that will resonate with senior leaders. 

Alignment to Strategic Objectives

This is where it all begins—or where it should. What your organization is trying to achieve should serve as the starting point for your consideration of the metrics to be used in performance management. Where can you find this information? In your annual report or strategic plan if your company has one. If not, through conversations with your CEO, CFO, and other members of the leadership team.

What is the organization’s mission, vision, and values? What’s important to the organization? How does it make money (this is important for not-for-profit as well as for-profit organizations)? Unless you understand the answers to these critical questions it will be literally impossible to develop a performance management system that matters.

Focusing on Both Tactical and Adaptive Performance

Organizations long ago learned that they could quickly focus on tactical metrics to measure performance—things like absenteeism, showing up on time, etc. Some even progressed into more business-related metrics like sales, customer satisfaction scores, etc.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these types of measures. However, they don’t really give a full picture perspective of performance. Worse, they don’t provide any insights into to what extent the organization is building capabilities for innovation and future success. These are adaptative performance measures which high-performing companies have learned to build into their performance management metrics strategies.

Are you looking for people who just show up consistently? Or, are you looking for people who can adapt to a dynamic environment? Only you can answer those—or other—questions to help you determine what it is that your organization truly values in employees. Based on the answers, you would then come up with metrics to help you measure how well your employees are delivered on that value.

Overall Performance or A Focus on Key Competencies?

What constitutes a great employee in your organization? What are the core competencies and capabilities they possess that leads them to perform well? Do you know?

Many organizations manage performance at an overall level. This is the most simple way to manage performance and, again, there is nothing inherently wrong with taking this approach. However, the more you can drill down into the sub-elements of performance that really drive success, the more you can customize metrics across divisions, departments, roles, etc.

Goal Driven Performance Assessment

Another approach that organizations take to performance management is evaluating performance based on goal attainment. Those goals might be organization-wide (e.g., quarterly sales goals), division or department-specific (e.g., error rates, quality outcomes), or individual (e.g., achieving specific outcomes or deliverables).

Finding the “Right” Approach

Your company and its strategic priorities, as well as your internal capabilities to gather and analyze various metrics, will determine the appropriate approach for you. There is no handy “one-size-fits-all” solution. And, in fact, despite widespread coverage of trendy performance management approach—like OKRs or “objectives and key results”—there is no one “right” approach, there is only your approach.

It can be helpful, though, to consider how other organizations have approached performance management, and the approaches they use to identify and use meaningful metrics while monitoring performance over time.

Wells Fargo is an example of an organization that once focused on tactical execution. An overly aggressive and singular focus on earnings led employees to take any means necessary to meet their numbers—including opening accounts without customer authorizations. That was in 2016, when the company agreed to pay $185 to settle a lawsuit with federal regulators and the county of Los Angeles. Over time, Wells Fargo has changed its approach to performance management. They provide a good example, unfortunately, of what can go wrong when companies focus only on tactical metrics.

Netflix is an organization with a strong commitment to culture. So strong, that back in 2009 then Talent Officer Patty McCord and CEO Reed Hasting, published a Netflix Culture Deck to provide clarity to the organization—all members of the organization—around what Netflix valued. They then took what some believe to be a radical approach to performance management—they were one of the first companies to boldly do away with the traditional annual performance review. Instead they shifted to a performance management process that focused on what they felt was most important—their cultural norms—and created a 360-degree, transparent (reviews are made public), and ongoing form of evaluation.

Deloitte approaches performance management somewhat differently. Like Netflix, they also eliminated annual reviews, and they eliminated cascading objectives. They shifted to a new approach that, according to an article in Harvard Business Review, has hallmarks that include “speed, agility, one-size-fits-one, and constant learning.” It’s an approach made possible by the availability of reliable performance data.

Keep in mind, though, that the approaches that have worked for these organizations may not work for yours—in fact, what worked for them probably won’t work for yours. Why? Because you’re different. You have a unique culture, unique market, unique product or service, unique vision/mission, and unique strategic objectives.

In determining the right approach for you, there are some important things you need to consider.

  • Your purpose. Your starting point in considering the right approach for your organization is your purpose. Why are you doing performance management? What results do you believe it will drive in your organization?
  • Can reviewers actually and accurately measure what you’re trying to measure? It’s not uncommon for organizations to measure leadership potential. But will your organization’s managers actually be able to measure leadership potential among their employees?
  • Can you capture the data cost-effectively? Just because something can be measured, doesn’t mean that it should. You need to consider how it will be measured, the cost of measurement and the value of the information you’re gathering.
  • Do metrics tie back to key organizational goals and objectives? Do you have a performance management system that can not only track progress against these objectives, but shift and adjust as priorities evolve?

So once you’ve considered all of these factors and come up with a performance management metrics strategy, your job is done, right? Wrong! Performance management isn’t a static organizational function. It’s iterative and ongoing. As you monitor metrics and have discussions around them, and as your internal and external environment changes based on anything from new emerging competition to global pandemics, your metrics will need to change. What’s important today may not be important tomorrow.

Having a process though for clearly and carefully considering the tie between performance metrics and organization performance, the options available to you, what your organization needs, and your organization’s capacity to capture the right information will help you develop a flexible approach for today and tomorrow—an approach that your organizational leaders will clearly see the value of. 

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Write Better Reviews With Our Performance Appraisal Cheat Sheet

If you want happy, thriving and committed employees, you need to give good feedback. And, when we say "good", we don’t mean unfounded praise for the sake of it.

What we mean is that you, the manager, put in time, effort and intentional thought into what and how to make employee reviews a valuable exchange.

Because according to the Society for Human Resource Management, 95% of employees are unhappy with the management of their performance reviews and 90% don't believe the process is reflective of the truth. Ouch.

The harsh reality is that far too many managers think they can just turn up for a performance review unprepared and rely on their subjective memory to carry them through. But that's an approach that time and time again has proven to result in biased, inaccurate and ineffective performance reviews.

But writing a meaningful review doesn’t have to be nearly as daunting as the business headlines make it out to be. Read on for a quick cheatsheet to help managers write better reviews in less time.

Managers, It’s Time to Change Your Mindset

Today, most managers are about as loved as the office fax machine.

Unless they absolutely have to, employees would rather not engage. And if they're really honest, they're not even totally sure why they're there.

But like employees, managers have gotten a raw deal. They have mountains of paperwork to fill out, bureaucracies to navigate and they get very little feedback about whether their actions are helping or hurting.

So it makes sense that most managers would be tempted to rush through the first stage of writing up the employee review. After all, they've got to tick that box so they can move swiftly on to the next one. Problem is, if you don’t put in the groundwork, the result will be generic and useless.

The question for managers is this: Do you want to simply go through the motions, or do you want real progress for the individuals on your team?

Admittedly, some people just aren’t great at giving feedback — there’s definitely a skill to doing it well. But like any new skill, it’s something you can practice and develop. Instead of thinking ‘I can’t be bothered’ or ‘I don’t have time for this’ — change your viewpoint. A much more productive way to look at the process is to view it as a reflective exercise. One where you gather information with the express purpose of generating a meaningful dialogue and clear follow-up steps.

Set aside an hour (you honestly don’t need more) and write down the key points you want to cover, using your company mission, values, personal and departmental goals, and previous reviews as a rough guide.

And remember, it’s better to have something short and relevant than a 10-page review filled with pointless platitudes or irrelevant ratings. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind.

5 Step Cheat Sheet to Write Better Reviews

Step 1. Write with Authenticity

Ask yourself, ‘How can I help this employee?’ Remember, your goal is to ensure that the employee walks away knowing what they did well and how they can improve. The more genuine you are, the more honestly and objectively the employee will view their own performance.

Cover things that went well and things that didn’t go so well. And don’t shy away from sensitive topics. Instead, tackle them in a way that encourages the employee's personal and professional growth.

Step 2. Call Out Success

It's a fact: Employees who receive praise and recognition perform better. Research reported in the Harvard Business Review found high-performing teams are nearly 6X more likely to focus on positive feedback than the average team.

Take a minute to think about your employee's biggest wins and strengths and provide real examples of how they impacted the rest of the team or the business at large.

For instance, saying ‘You’re a great team player’ gives the employee zero practical insights into what behaviors they should keep demonstrating at work. But if you give them a concrete example like, ‘When the team was short-staffed, you didn't hesitate to pick up the slack to make sure we were able to ship on time,’ they can then relate to the memory of the event and tell you more about what happened.

That's how you get better insights into what drives an employee to do their best work. And as a major bonus, the employee will walk away from the review feeling awesome about what they've accomplished.

Step 3. Be Specific

If there's one single rule for writing better reviews, it's this: Avoid vagueness like the plague.

Common statements like, 'You have poor communication skills’ are as lazy as they sound. What does that even mean? Is the employee a poor writer? Are their presentations confusing? Have other team members complained about their interpersonal skills? You need to exemplify each comment clearly.

In this instance, you could write: “In meetings when you disagree with another person, you appear emotional and it’s difficult to finish the discussion.” This gives the individual a real-life situation they can either recall or imagine and, hopefully, relate to.

Then you can identify a solution: “When you have a point to share that you think will help the team, try to point out how it will impact the work itself so that everyone can see the big picture impact of your suggestion.”

Step 4. Keep It Concise

Edit your review to remove any vague, verbose or played-out language.

That means avoiding overused terms like ‘good’ and ‘excellent’. Instead, see if you can bring in a few action words like: excels, exhibits, demonstrates, grasps, generates, possesses, communicates, directs and achieves.

Choosing better, more specific words is a powerful way to say more with less.

Step 5. Talk to Other Stakeholders

It doesn't always make sense to approach the employee review as a solo project.

Even if you're not integrating peer or 360 reviews into your performance management process, it can help to get feedback from other people to either confirm or discredit your assumptions about an employee's performance.

Ask for examples of when the employee did something well or when they needed extra help or support. This will make sure the written review is fully focused on the individual being reviewed, not the manager reviewing them.

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Free 360 Employee Review Template

360 reviews broaden our sources of feedback in a performance management process.

Click here to download:

PDF - PerformYard's 360 Review Template

Why 360 Reviews?

360 reviews broaden our sources of feedback in a performance management process. For development focused approaches especially, it can be helpful for employees to get feedback from not just their manager, but everyone they work with.

360s are particularly useful in matrixed or project based organizations where employees work with many different people throughout the organization. Sometimes an employees manager isn’t even the best person to provide feedback, and so going to the people who know the employee best requires a 360 approach.

Goals of a 360 Review

An effective 360 review will solicit diverse feedback from people with different relationships to the employee and from different levels of the organization. That feedback will then be synthesized and discussed with a manager or mentor to help make sense of what to do with it.

Great 360 processes don’t just collect a lot of feedback and throw it on the employee with no guidance or next steps. Instead they include time for discussion and goal setting to turn conversation into action.

Managing the Process

A high quality 360 process will be run in stages. The first stage is nomination, when the feedback providers for each employee are decided. That is followed by people completing their feedback forms. Then HR or managers should review feedback and either get clarity or help frame it more constructively. Next managers should synthesize feedback in their own review and help determine next steps. Lastly, managers and employees should get together to discuss the feedback that has been provided.

This staging is discussed in more detail in the above template.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 360 review template?

A 360 review template provides HR professionals a process and questionnaires in order to run a 360 review process at their organization.

How do I create a 360 degree feedback form?

360 review feedback forms should be kept relatively short and simple, as employees will likely be asked to fill out several with each cycle. Focus on examples of positive contributions and areas for improvement.

What should I ask in a 360 review?

360 review forms should ask for examples of positive contributions and areas for improvement. The purpose of 360s is to get diverse perspectives, and so focusing on examples and qualitative feedback is most important.

How many questions should a 360 have?

Keep 360 review forms to just a few questions. As few as two and as many as six will work well. Employees will often be asked to complete several forms during each cycle, and so keeping them short helps move the process forward.

What is a 360 evaluation process?

A 360 evaluation process will find the right people to provide feedback for an employee, solicit feedback from those people, review the feedback in a sign-off step, synthesize feedback into a cohesive narrative, and finally present the feedback to the employee.

What is a 360 assessment question?

360 assessment questions focus on examples of positive impact and examples of opportunities for improvement. They can also ask for ratings of overall performance or yes/no feedback on things like “would you want to have this employee on your team in the future?”

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7 Questions Managers Should Ask Unhappy Employees

Have you heard Richard Branson's latest business mantra?

The airline/clean-energy/galactic-tourism mogul insists that "‘happy employees = happy customers". And while this is exactly the kind of cloying HR advice we tend to see as a luxury exclusive to celebrity CEOs like Branson, research tells us this is one piece of advice that is surprisingly practical. How your employees feel can absolutely impact the success of your business.

According to a study by The University of Warwick, happier workers were 20% more productive. And on the flipside, Gallup reported that unhappy, disengaged employees cost the US economy over $450 billion per year. But we’re all human, and everyone has good and bad days. The real issue is, when left unchecked, employee unhappiness can spread throughout the team and wreak havoc on organizational productivity.

Never Assume, Always Assess

Before we get to the questions, it's important to remember how easy it is to jump to conclusions about what's driving someone's behavior.

But what makes one employee unhappy, might not even affect another. Moreover, happiness isn’t a switch that gets turned on and off.

You need to take time to get to the root of what’s really going on. Does an employee feel unrecognized for their efforts? Is there a conflict with another member of the team? The problem may be completely unrelated to work, such as a family bereavement or relationship issue.

You can't know until you start the conversation.

Yes, it might be awkward. But there are few ways to approach employees without making them feel like you’re putting them on the spot. The first step is asking the right questions.

7 Questions to Ask the Unhappy Employee

1. How have you been feeling lately?

Sometimes addressing a problem head-on is the best way to start a transparent and open dialogue.

Plus, you never know. What indicates "unhappiness" to you may be nothing more than a couple of stressful yet fleeting moments for your employee. State what you've observed in a non-judgmental manner and ask the employee if your observation is correct.

For example: "I noticed you were a little curt in this morning's standup. How have you been feeling lately?"

2. What do you enjoy most and least about your work?

Knowing what makes your employee happy is just as important as knowing what makes them unhappy.

By asking the individual about both the good and bad, you're prompting them to not only vent about their issues (something they're probably doing a lot of anyway), but also to pause and think about how those issues stack up against the benefits — those aspects that they truly love but have been too stressed to acknowledge lately.

3. Do you feel recognized and respected for your work?

Research shows that receiving regular praise can lead to higher employee retention. But according to Gallup’s analysis, only a third of workers said they received recognition for doing good work in the past seven days.

It's also important to remember that what counts as "recognition" to one person, may not be viewed as respectful recognition by another. For example, introverts might dread public announcements while extroverts might see anything less as not being recognized at all.

Find out where and when the unhappy individual last felt that their work was recognized and tailor your performance management and rewards approach accordingly.

4. Are you doing the things you really want to do?

A BIG complaint from employees is that managers just aren’t interested in them.

If you want to build trust and maintain a good working relationship, you need to really engage with your employees. Find out what their personal and professional interests are. Are they happy with their career choices? Are there issues in their personal life that are holding them back? Do they have a passion and are they able to pursue it at work?

Once you build that rapport, you’ll be able to communicate with a greater sense of clarity and purpose because you'll know what awesome work means to them. Plus, you can address issues faster and more effectively when you're able to frame them within the context of what matters to the employee.

5. Do you enjoy working in your current team?

Cultural toxicity can be an employee happiness and productivity killer. And the higher up the ladder you get, the less likely you are to recognize it.

This question can help you explore the team dynamics on a deeper level. Does the employee get along with their teammates? Do they have friends? If not, why not?

Pioneering researchers like Christina Maslach have pointed out that, "Social relationships in organizations can be the most positive feature, while also being the greatest source of stress. When researchers go into organizations, they often think that workload will be the main problem. In fact, people often say they can do the job and handle the workload, but they cannot cope with the competitiveness, politicking, put-downs, back-stabbing, gossip, unfairness and lack of recognition."

It may feel like a Pandora's box, but until you find out what's really going on at the team-level, you'll be paralyzed in affecting any real change.

6. How can I make things easier for you at work?

Don't underestimate the role you play in your employees' lives.

Even for employees dealing with personal issues like parenting challenges, divorce, or even harmful lifestyle choices like addiction, can benefit from time-off, flexible working options or access to the right tools or counseling.

But if you genuinely want to help, you need to be willing to ask what you can do to support them. Be ready to offer specific suggestions in case they're too overwhelmed to know what it is that they need.

7. What does your ideal work scenario look like?

Is your working culture too prescriptive or totally lacking structure? Does your employee need to have more input into how they work and when? Maybe remote working sounded like a good idea but is actually making them feel detached and isolated.

Again, don’t make assumptions.

To find the right solutions, you need to work together with your employee. And if it feels like too much work, remember that by taking the time to show your empathy and support, you’re investing in a happy, productive future for everyone.

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Performance Management at Tesla: What we know.

Just when you thought performance management was getting soft, along strolls Tesla hitting the headlines with its no excuses approach.

If you believe the hype, Tesla has been managing its extreme growth and aggressive goals as an old-school taskmaster.

Back in 2017, the global automotive company reportedly fired hundreds of staff with little or no warning following annual reviews. It was an unexpected move and one that left everyone wondering whether the notorious rank and yank approach would be making a comeback. Then, in 2018, Tesla announced it was planning to cut another 9% of its 46,000-person workforce, citing the "normal ebb and flow of hiring and firing in a business."

Tesla stands out amongst its tech star peers for a less cushy approach to performance management process. Here's what we know about it.

What’s going on at Tesla?

Tesla is one of those mysterious companies we’re all intrigued by.

What’s it like to work there? What do employees do all day? What do they get rated on?

Unfortunately, we can’t answer all of these questions.

Here's what we do know. The company was founded in 2003 and is currently estimated to be worth $60 billion. Led by the enigmatic (and let's face it, controversial) Elon Musk, Tesla is an organization like no other. Its business is luxury cars, but its ambitions are much higher. Under Musk's guiding hand, Tesla wants to revolutionize the entire automotive world in ways we can’t even imagine.

Explaining his master plan for Tesla, Musk writes “the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy.”

The man has grand aspirations. And Musk has made it no secret that the company faces challenging production targets. (He recently apologized to a customer who was waiting for her new Tesla car by tweeting “we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell.”)

As Tesla ramps up production to hit a target of 5,000 Model 3 cars every week, its priority is 100% delivery execution. Given the goal, maybe a cutthroat performance management approach is the best way to get those results and keep customers happy? We'll let you be the judge.

A glimpse into performance management at Tesla

Like most organizations of Tesla's size and influence, its performance management system is somewhat of a mystery.

But if you know how to read between the lines, there are some interesting strands to follow. For starters, it seems that the performance management culture has changed quite dramatically over the last few years as the company has grown.

From employee development to stack ranking

Back in 2016, when Juliana Bednarski was HR Business Partner and Louis Efron was Head of Global Employee Engagement, the picture looked quite different. In a presentation for Talent Week, Bednarski and Efron outlined Tesla’s dynamic approach to leveraging the best talent.

They recognized the importance of engaged employees and their impact on customer engagement. In response, they created the Tesla360 Summary. This was essentially a staff survey that used the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs to guide performance management. The survey was a massive success and achieved an impressive 91% participation rate.

So it's strange that during the tenure of Gaby Toledano, the Chief People Officer who left late last year, Tesla appears to have embraced an entirely different approach. Details are thin, but it seems that they've gone back to using a traditional annual review to determine promotions, demotions and firings.

That's a stark switch up from their previous engagement-focused approach aimed at helping employees reach the top of the self-actualization pyramid.

Changing priorities, changing process

In an email statement submitted to Fortune, a Tesla spokesperson confirmed that performance reviews happen annually and employees meet with managers to discuss their achievements over the past 12 months.

As a result, top performers are rewarded with either compensation, equity awards or promotions. And we saw what happens to the low performers.

Not much to go on there. But it's clear that Tesla is driving hard to deliver what former employee, Spencer Gore (now CEO of Impossible Aerospace) describes as “industry-defining product on a limited budget."

And, to deliver on such a promise, Tesla needs to run a manufacturing operation that is lean and mean.

With Tesla’s formidable production goals, it might make good business sense to remedy the bottlenecks as firmly and swiftly as possible. And if that's the goal, what could be more effective than the good old rank and yank approach?

But to be fair, even the grandfather of rank and yank performance management, Jack Welch would say that this is approach is as much about employee growth as it is about assessment. And it is possible that Tesla's current performance management framework somehow marries the two. But with the layoffs still hot off the press, it may be awhile before they start opening up about their latest performance strategy.

Is Tesla’s approach good or bad?

It depends on who you ask.

If you defer to Tesla's current and former employees, some seem to accept that working for Tesla is a competitive and stressful environment. Others are less complimentary.

But for many, the prestige of having Tesla on your resume supersedes the downsides. One anonymous employee writes “having the opportunity to work for a company that is changing the world is exhilarating and rewarding.” But another reviewer warns “Tesla is a high-stress, fast-paced environment. People here work really hard and get things done. I wouldn’t say it is for everyone.”

It’s hard to say where Tesla's performance management process will go from here. For a company with such high aspirations, it’s clear that its employees hold the key to success. But how they attract and nurture that talent seems to be a moveable feast. As the new VP of People and Places, Kevin Kassekert, settles into his role, it will be interesting to watch how Tesla’s performance management evolves in the future.

More Inspiration

Tesla is not the only organization going its own way. These days, most great organizations are thinking critically about performance management and coming up with innovative new solutions.

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

Google’s Performance Management Playbook: Inspiration for Your Organization

How Regeneron Built Their Performance Management System

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?

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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Performance Appraisal for Remote Employees: Top Challenges to Address

A successful performance management implementation enlists HR Professionals to set clear objectives, timelines, and have a thorough understanding of their workforce needs; which can be a difficult feat in itself. One variable that adds an additional layer of complexity is when the roll-out occurs across a decentralized office. A decentralized office can be any one of the following scenarios:

  • Several regional offices with varying cultures, management styles and workplace dynamics;
  • A contracting agency whose workforce includes both onsite construction workers and offsite administrators, both with starkly different job tasks;
  • Or, a company that has a high percentage of remote workers or workers that use co-working spaces.

According to Forbes, about 43% of employees spend some of their time working outside of the office and that number is only expected to increase. Regardless of the circumstance, the challenges presented with implementing a performance management system that accommodates the modern, dynamic, office environment may bring into question its efficacy or its necessity entirely, but it shouldn’t.

According to one leading food and beverage company, the performance review is, “the glue that holds an organization together across geographic, technical, and cultural boundaries.” Performance management is an integral component of a company’s organizational strategy. Without it, executives are unable to answer the ‘how’ before the ‘why’ when identifying their workforce needs.

PerformYard clients are no exception to the shift from the traditional office environment. Our Customer Success Team has first-hand exposure to some of the challenges imposed on their HR Leaders as well as solutions our clients have adopted, using our software’s capabilities in order to mitigate these problems. Here are the top  challenges and takeaways:

Challenge #1: Employees Feel Disconnected from Their Company’s Mission

They don’t see their daily work impacting the ‘bigger picture,’ leading to decreased productivity and accountability.

Solution #1: Manage off-site productivity the same way you manage on-site productivity, by having clear goals and accountability,

Before implementing your software, rather than asking “how will my performance management be able to enhance connectivity between our corporate and regional offices?” Instead ask, “Does my performance management allow for goal transparency and have an intuitive way for workers to track and update progress?” Instead of asking, “Can my performance management system accommodate a remote team tasked with only special projects?” Instead ask, “Does my performance management allow for me to set top company goals that departmental or individual goals can align to?” Adopting a top-down mentality that begins with clarity and transparency before moving to individualization is good starting point.

Challenge #2: Standardizing the Reviews Process Seems Nearly Impossible

Between having multiple HR people, various management styles, and different cultural norms, standardizing the reviews process seems nearly impossible.

Solution #2: Assign one person to oversee the software implementation from a corporate standpoint and have them train representatives from different entities so they can adopt their own methods as needed.

This person should should not only have the bandwidth to learn the software inside-out, but should also be willing to initiate frequent dialogue with local HR teams to ensure the software is used correctly adds value. In some ways, the solution here is similar to the first challenge, in that, the first step begins with high-level corporate approach. But the former does not effectively reach each worker.

Having a ‘performance management guru’ allows companies to create a standardized process as a foundation while empowering other entities to make tweaks and modifications that may be more suitable for their specific needs. Using this approach, local HR professionals can incorporate performance standards that are customary for that particular region.

Challenge #3: Employees Feel Left Out of Office Dialogue

The concept of ‘water cooler talk’ that once built office camaraderie and rapport is no longer prevalent.

Solution #3: Establish a method of communication that is frequent and informal where employees can interact with each other.

Even if your company uses other communication platforms like gchat, slack, or an internal system, using a feature directly from your performance software is useful for two reasons. First, studies show that remote-site workers require more frequent dialogue than those in the office to absorb new information and to help them feel aligned with the rest of the team. So in this instance, having additional channels of communication for specific work functions, is better. Second, using a feedback feature within your performance management software will establish a link between daily conversations surrounding performance and a more formal reviews process whether it be through a reporting function or otherwise.

With customization being the pinnacle of the PerformYard platform, our resounding answer to any performance management related challenge is that there is no one-size fits all solution. At a minimal, a successful implementation will involve the following: having your ultimate corporate objectives thoroughly established, a willingness to make tweaks and adjustments to accommodate varying processes, and a software management tool designed to do both.

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5 Modern Alternatives to Annual Performance Reviews

The business world is becoming faster, more efficient and more innovative. In coordination with these changes, many HR professionals are evaluating classic annual reviews to see if there is a better way to do things. Let’s take a closer look at some of the modern performance management alternatives that are often discussed.

PerformYard provides the tools to transition from annual reviews to modern performance management. Learn More


One-on-ones are an informal opportunity for managers and employees to regularly meet face to face.


  • Demonstrate interest in the employee. Quite simply, one-on-one check-ins let the employee know that they matter to the manager. These can help build an employee/leader relationship.
  • Act as an early warning. These informal meetings can help identify struggles or issues early on.
  • Opportunity to listen. Many people are looking for an opportunity to be listened to, and these one-on-ones provide a chance for employees to tell their story.


  • Easy to postpone. It can seem simple to postpone or cancel these one-on-one meetings. If this becomes a regular habit, it can send a message to the employee that their role or work isn’t as important.
  • Time-consuming. These meetings can be hard to manage if a manager has multiple direct reports.
  • Hard to measure. These meetings often don't have a formal reporting structure to help capture an employee's progress against goals throughout the year.

Quarterly Check-Ins

As the name suggests, these mini-performance evaluations happen with an employee four times a year. These can be formal or informal meetings to discuss performance from the last quarter.


  • More interaction with employees. Meeting an employee at least four times a year provides an opportunity to deepen the leader/employee relationship.
  • Timely feedback. Instead of asking an employee to keep a yearly scorecard, managers can provide feedback as things happen. This allows an employee to act on recommendations immediately.
  • Reduce admin load. Managers can pull together information from these conversations to perform annual performance reviews.


  • Manager commitment. If a manager has many direct reports, this meeting frequency can become a burden.
  • Lack of long-term focus. When you are reviewing progress on a shorter-term basis, it can be hard to focus on the big picture.

Project-Based Reviews

Project-based reviews are distinct from other types of reviews because they focus on the last project an employee completed. Project-based reviews combine feedback from project managers and others from different teams who also worked on the project.


  • Goals are clearly defined. Project-based work tends to have very clear objectives, scope, and deliverables. This can help guide reviews.
  • Timely, relevant feedback. Managers and employees can discuss relevant feedback from others who worked on the project while the work is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Meaningful performance records. Project-based reviews can quickly surface patterns of excellence or signs of trouble in an employee.


  • Not a one-size-fits-all solution. Projects can be too big or too small for this to work. Daily or weekly project reviews would quickly become overwhelming, and multi-year projects could leave employees with very infrequent reviews.
  • Time-consuming. Since input needs to be gathered from a variety of sources beyond the direct manager, this style of feedback can be time-consuming for both the manager as well as peers and project leaders.

Goals and Goal Check-Ins

These meetings focus the discussion on creating and measuring performance and progress of an employee’s SMART goals. It typically doesn't involve a formal analysis but could be documented.


  • Provides timely feedback. This helps keep employees engaged with and thinking about their goals throughout the year. It also provides an opportunity for discussions when things are not going well.
  • Goal tracking. This also allows managers to track an employee’s activities related to goals and objectives.


  • Can be too focused. If employees and managers are only discussing goals, there may be other successes or challenges that are not being discussed.
  • Overly impersonal. Discussions about goals and progress against goals can be very impersonal. These meetings don't often contribute to building a strong employee/manager relationship.

Continuous Feedback

In a nutshell, continuous feedback includes any assessment that happens on a regular basis. These can be formal or informal meetings.


  • Provide immediate evaluation. These meetings help address issues and celebrate successes as they happen.
  • Summary of objectives. Employees are reminded of their responsibilities and overall objectives and can be sure that they are on the right path for success.


  • Hard to see the big picture. When you are meeting on a regular basis, it can be harder to identify the milestones in measurable goals.
  • Keeping a consistent schedule. Continuous performance reviews can only be successful if they are indeed continuous.

Organizations have many performance management options. The best process for your organization may actually bring together elements of several of the processes described above. The bottom line is that any employee performance review process needs to accurately reflect performance and ultimately be effective.

Ready to learn more about creating a modern performance management system? Check out our guide.

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360 Degree Feedback Software for Performance Reviews

The 360 Degree Feedback process gives your company a holistic view of how each of your employees performs within your organization. PerformYard’s easy-to-use performance management platform makes exec

The 360 Degree Feedback process gives your company a holistic view of how each of your employees performs within your organization. PerformYard’s easy-to-use performance management platform makes executing 360s simple and consistent, providing HR, managers and employees with diverse feedback and performance data. 

360 Feedback software should handle every stage of the 360 process and streamlines the flow of information throughout your cycle. Look for features to facilitate nominations, create staged review cycles, manage sign-offs, aggregate data and make the process simple for employees. 

PerformYard is a top rated 360 degree feedback system. Connect with our team to see if PerformYard can streamline your process. Click here to see PerformYard.

PerformYard’s Approach to 360 Reviews...

PerformYard believes that the most effective 360s processes focus on great feedback and engaged employees. Therefore the best 360 feedback software should streamline and simplify the process so employees can spend more time with what matters, the feedback, and less time on trying to figure out workflows.

PerformYard gives HR teams the flexibility they need to design the right 360 process for their organization. Choose who can nominate who and if it requires sign-off, choose who can see feedback and if it is anonymous, create multiple stages like peer feedback stage followed by manager feedback stage, use any type of question you’d like, etc. HR teams get unlimited flexibility to setup the process they need.

Then PerformYard will manage the cycle for you, alerting employees to complete each next step in the process. Employees get brought directly to what they need to do next, no need to remember how to use the software, just click the link and sign-off, give feedback, nominate a reviewer, whatever is needed at that moment.

We sum up our approach as flexible features for HR and a simple employee experience.

Click Here to See PerformYard in Action

Key Features of 360 Reviews in PerformYard

Here are a few key features that show how PerformYard sets your 360 review process up for success.

Streamline Peer Nominations

One of the largest administrative challenges of 360s is establishing who will review whom. Often the relationships aren’t clearly defined on any organizational chart. Someone on your Analytics team may have spent a lot of time working with Marketing this year, but last year they did more projects with Finance, HR often won’t know that. That’s why a nomination process is so important.

PerformYard allows a lot of flexibility here, HR can choose to have employees request feedback from peers, have peers offer to give feedback, have managers define peer feedback relationships, or HR can setup the peer reviews. All of these options can also include a sign-off step where either a manager or HR approves the peer feedback assignment.

Control Feedback with Anonymity, Visibility and Sign-Offs

During 360 reviews employees from all different levels are providing feedback for other employees also at different levels. Some individual contributors may not be familiar with providing constructive feedback, and some employees may be uncomfortable providing feedback outside of the established hierarchy. 

Each exchange of feedback is an opportunity for conflict to arise. That’s why controls are so important. Not every organization has a culture of transparent feedback. Anonymizing feedback, hiding feedback altogether, or having managers/HR sign-off on feedback all help your organization ease into using diverse sources of feedback. 

After a few cycles of experience and training, you can choose to move to a more open feedback strategy, or not. 

Create Multiple Stages

The best 360 strategies use staging to manage their process. Often the 360 will have period where self, peer and external feedback is collected. Then another stage where that feedback is reviewed and potentially sent back to get more clarity. Then managers synthesize the feedback into a clearer narrative with next steps. And finally the manager and employee meet to discuss.

A staged process enriches your entire strategy because it allows everyone to digest and react to the feedback, and then decide on next steps. Your 360 process should not be about collecting pieces of paper that get forgotten, it should build to a productive conversation between an employee and their manager about all the opportunities that the feedback has uncovered. Staging your process facilitates this.

Integrate 360s with Your Performance Management Strategy

It’s important to remember that 360s work best as part of a larger performance management strategy. At the end of a 360 will you set goals for development and then followup on those goals in check-ins throughout the year? When peers and managers are writing their feedback should they work from memory, or use the performance notes they’ve been keeping all year?

That’s why PerformYard offers an entire suite of performance management tools, so you can manage all elements of your strategy in one place. Bring together 360s, check-ins, goals, feedback, recognition, performance notes and a lot more to build the strategy that’s right for your organization.

Benefits of Using PerformYard for 360 Reviews

360 reviews are a useful performance management tool that you can use to increase self-awareness, transparency and performance at your organization. Because 360 reviews require feedback from multiple team members, they often lead to profound benefits, such as increased communication, trust among teammates, and an understanding of how each employee affects the greater organization. While 360 reviews may be more involved than a traditional manager-employee review process, the holistic feedback they provide can help drive company strategy and more accurately detect high performing employees.

Information technology company J2, who usePerformYard to manage their 360 reviews, had this to say about why they chose the 360 review process: 

“360 reviews have become a big part of our process over the last couple of years. People move around a lot, interact with lots of employees, and contribute to many projects; so feedback from many sources is really important.” 

-- Heather Capel, Vice President of Professional Services.

When manually completed, The 360 review process can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of forms, spreadsheets, and emails necessary to gather and approve all of the feedback. 

PerformYard is a streamlined solution to this manual madness. We provide an easy-to-use interface where your employees and managers can fill out forms and submit them directly to the people who need them without reminders and email threads. See for yourself how easy it is to run 360 reviews in PerformYard.

Click Here to See PerformYard in Action

What is 360 Degree Feedback Software

360 feedback software helps HR teams manage the 360 review process. The best software will manage nominations, distribute forms, send reminders, organize sign-offs, collect and redistribute feedback, manage performance data and offer analytics. Managing more than a few 360s manually can be overwhelming, so software plays an important role.

Resources Related to 360 Performance Appraisals

Interested in reading more about 360s? Here are some excellent resources that we recommend to get your research going. 

Getting the Most Out of 360-Degree Reviews (Harvard Business Review)

The Purpose of Peer Reviews in 360s

How J2 Interactive Collects 360 Feedback for 150 Distributed Employees

Do 360 evaluations work? (American Psychological Association)

How Netflix Uses 360 Reviews for Performance Management

Frequently Asked Questions About 360 Degree Feedback

What is a 360 degree feedback process?

An administrator kicks off the 360 review by providing forms to the reviewers and reviewee. The reviewers typically include peers and managers. Reviewers then submit feedback, which is compiled by the manager and/or HR. This compiled feedback is potentially anonymized or summarized before being shared with the reviewee. 

What are the pros and cons of 360 degree feedback?

Pros of 360 degree feedback include: 

  • A holistic look at an employee’s performance
  • Improved team communication
  • Improved company and team transparency
  • Increased employee self-awareness. 

 The cons of 360 degree feedback are: 

  • Extensive review training is required to ensure employees provide actionable feedback
  • Team performance may suffer if negative, personal feedback is presented
  • So much feedback can result in data overload.

Making the decision to adopt 360 degree feedback reviews is not something a company takes lightly. See more of the pros and cons of 360 reviews to decide if this process is right for you. 

How much does a 360 performance review tool cost?

Performance management software is typically priced in three ways: pay-per-user, pay-per-employee, and pay-per-appraisal. Get in touch with PerformYard today, so that we can provide you with quote. 

In the pay-per-user model, you will pay for each user registered in the software. In the pay-per-employee model, you will pay for each employee at the company, regardless of whether they are registered in the software. In the pay-per-appraisal model, you will pay for packs of employee appraisals. With the pay-per-user and pay-per employee models, you may have to pay set-up and implementation fees.

What companies use 360 degree feedback?

Experts say as many as 90% of Fortune 500 companies like Netflix, GE, and Facebook use some form of 360 degree feedback in their review process. Companies value the holistic look at employee performance, and understand that more information leads to better business decisions. 

How do I write a 360 review form?

360 review forms are constructed from a number of measurements like rating scales, open-ended questions, and trait selection to describe a subject. These measurements give reviewers the opportunity to reflect thoroughly on a subject: good, bad, and otherwise.

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What are Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS)?

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales, also known as BARS, are a type of performance management scale that use behavior “statements” as a reference point instead of generic descriptors commonly found on traditional rating scales.

Designed to add the benefits of both qualitative and quantitative information to the appraisal process, the BARS method of performance appraisal measures an employee’s performance against specific examples of behavior that are given a number rating for the purpose of collecting data.

behaviorally anchored rating scale example

Establishing specific behaviors for grading are meant to give the rating a higher degree of accuracy relative to performance. This is because you’re relying on unique, individual behaviors required for each individual position within an organization, instead of behaviors that can be evaluated in any position across the board.

Ready to make changes to your company's performance review process? Performance management is easier with PerformYard. Learn More

It is presumed that using a rating scale with specific behaviors for selected jobs minimizes the subjectivity in using basic ratings scales.

For now, let's dive into some examples of what BARS might look like.

Examples of Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales

The job being appraised belongs to a customer service representative:

  • A level four rating might assume the rep answers the phone after 1 to 2 rings with a friendly greeting
  • A level six rating might assume the rep answers phone after 1 ring with the correct company greeting

A traditional rating scale would ask if the employee answers phone promptly/courteously and list the number ratings:

  • 1: Never
  • 2: Not Often
  • 3: Sometimes
  • 4: Usually
  • 5: Always

It is clear to see there will be a difference in the outcome of the appraisal with the more definitive BARS method.

The job being appraised belongs to a nurse:

  • A level four rating might assume the nurse shows sympathy to patients
  • A level six rating might assume the nurse shows higher levels of empathy in all dealings with the patient and their family

The job being appraised belongs to a waiter:

  • A level 2 rating might assume the waiter talks on phone while taking orders
  • A level 4 rating might assume the waiter makes eye contact with customers during every transaction
  • A level 6 rating might assume the waiter greets customers cheerfully and makes suggestions from the menu based on their preferences

What Are the Pros and Cons of the BARS Method?

While these examples are great at offering an insight to the effectiveness of the BARS method, not everything about Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales is perfect. There are several benefits to making the switch, but also some downsides to consider.

Benefits of Using the Bars Approach:

  1. It's easy to use. The standards upon which the employee is being appraised are significantly clear which makes the entire process much less confusing.
  2. It's based on behavior. The ultimate goal of employee appraisals is to improve performance. Having a better understanding of the behaviors and what leads to them, allows the company an added perspective to what works and what doesn’t.
  3. It's impartial. Because BARS is heavily focused on behavior, the evaluation process seemingly has more fairness to it.
  4. It is completely individualized. BARS creates the ability to design a unique performance management experience for every position within an organization.

Downsides of Using the Bars Approach:

  1. It’s a time-consuming process. As great as it sounds to design the unique experience for each position, an organization with many different roles would have to invest an enormous amount of time and resources to get it done.
  2. It can be expensive. Time is money. For smaller organizations with multiple roles, this may not be feasible to accomplish in the short run.
  3. It demands a management team that is highly devoted/motivated. All of the statements and anchors used on the appraisal need to be developed. It is demanding and managers would have to be highly involved.
  4. It can be accused of leniency bias. BARS directly removes the opportunity for an evaluation to be biased, however, it doesn’t remove them all. Some believe there is still room for the leniency error.

Who Is the BARS Approach Best For?

After taking a closer look at the pros and cons of using Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales, one can expect that the method is best used by larger companies financially capable of pursuing the project.

However, realizing that major manager input is mandatory, the company also needs to have understandable time and commitment expectations.

It would be ideal if the company did not have a large number of different positions but rather, groups of positions or departments made up of similar types of jobs.

Being that this approach is still a measuring system used for rating employees, another suitable use for BARS is when you encounter bias challenges in the current performance management process. Its emphasis on behavior produces objective ratings difficult to distort.

Looking to implement BARS across your organization? PerformYard makes it easy to roll-out new programs company wide. Learn More.

How to Set Yourself up for Success

If you want to include BARS in your performance management plan, it is highly recommended that you start by diligently researching the approach. Be prepared with a full understanding so that you can execute the method properly for your own organization.

We also recommend using performance management software to help with execution. Performance management software makes it easy for employees to participate in your process and allows you to automate and track objectives, goals, and employee progress in one place.

Be sure that your team is on board with the BARS approach before implementing. As previously mentioned, managers will need to be greatly involved. The following steps will assist in developing the final product:

  1. Collect examples of adequate and inadequate behavior related to jobs. Some use the Critical Incident Technique.
  2. Convert data into performance dimensions using examples of behavior.
  3. Ask your team of subject matter experts (SMEs) to translate into their own performance dimensions.
  4. Give the remaining behaviors a scale, usually a 5 to 9 point one.
  5. Discard the higher deviated standards to ensure SME agreement on behavior ratings.
  6. Develop the final scale accordingly.
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Employee Check-ins vs Employee Reviews

If you’re heard the word “check-ins” talked about in performance management circles, you’ve likely had one of two reactions: what’s the big deal? It’s just another method of performance reviews, right?

Or, maybe, the Adobe innovation piqued your interest and you’re wondering whether to ditch your annual performance reviews like other companies have. Whatever you do, don’t allow the semi-sensationalized nature of employee check-ins to influence your perception of them. You may find that they’re not such a dramatic innovation after all--maybe they’re simply another method of measuring employee performance.

This article will help to better define the buzzword that is “check-ins” and maybe help you to analyze whether they are right--or wrong--for your employee performance conversations.

Similar to performance reviews

In many ways, employee check-ins are not so different from traditional performance reviews. The main priority in both remains the same--to conduct effective one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss progress, goals, and share feedback.

The most significant difference is the frequency in which the meetings occur. The idea behind check-ins is to foster a more informal, ongoing dialogue between employees and their managers. Some companies schedule mandated check-ins every month, while others schedule them as needed, or after completing major projects. Regardless of their specific schedule, the main purpose is to keep the lines of communication between employees and managers open so as to engage and manage employee performance more readily.

Adobe introduced the concept of employee check-ins in 2012 as a means of doing away with traditional performance reviews. As Adobe realized, and as many other companies have discovered, the annual performance review format tends to get bogged down by paperwork, bureaucracy, and unnecessary complexity. It can also lead to employees feeling limited by ranking and undervalued for performance.

Check-ins were brought into play as a means of catalyzing change in the standard performance review format, and to help employees feel more engaged and empowered.

How check-ins differ from performance reviews

The purpose of check-ins is to ensure that employees are given the opportunity to understand their expectations, share feedback, and discuss the development that is needed to enhance their performance.

Much of the appeal for companies that have switched to check-ins is the informal nature of them. Instead of being scripted, check-ins can remain relatively casual for both employees and management. The idea is that more frequent, less formal communication will allow employees and managers to work better together in accomplishing goals, sharing feedback, and developing skills.

While check-ins can be held with a more casual approach, it’s important that managers are still able to keep a loose structure intact in order to make the most of employee conversations. Employees should walk away from each check-in feeling inspired and driven to action, having established clear goals and discussed pointed areas of development.

The benefit of holding more frequent check-ins is that managers have a better idea of what an employee is working on in that moment. Instead of providing vague references to the employee’s overall performance from an extended length of time, managers can point to specific projects, goals, or coaching points to hone in on during each meeting.

It’s also important to note that feedback shouldn’t be restricted to just check-ins or formal reviews--feedback should be given throughout the year, so that these discussions can focus on goal-setting under the assumption that the employee already has ideas of ways to improve.

Beware of micromanagement

To the manager, more frequent, informal check-ins can certainly seem like a solution to the problems presented by annual or traditional performance reviews. But check-ins aren’t without their pitfalls.

In the case of traditional performance reviews, employees often reported feeling left in the dark regarding their performance rating until the annual or quarterly meeting, which would often leave them even more confused and unmotivated. Holding less frequent reviews runs the risk of employees losing vision of their goals, and then being overwhelmed with feedback to the point that they walk away discouraged and criticized.

However, the opposite can become true of check-ins--instead of being left in the dark, check-ins create many opportunities for an employee to feel micromanaged. A Harvard Business Review article distinguishes the importance of “checking in” with an employee rather than “checking up” on them--in other words, establishing clear, meaningful goals while also giving them the autonomy to meet those goals.

If you’re considering check-ins

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Doing what’s right for your organization and your employees is key.

It’s not a bad thing to hold less frequent check-ins, especially if you believe in the success and capability of your employees. In many organizations, typically ones that are smaller, managers have found that checking in with employees is less needed when they are able to give employees clear strategic goals. This develops a sense of ownership in the work, and in turn, creates a nearly autonomous workforce that fosters healthy collaboration in management and employees.

In larger companies, however, frequent check-ins play a valuable role in making an employee feel heard, seen, and set up for success in achieving company goals. The increased communication fosters employee engagement, and, in the long run, can help your organization retain employees. Employee check-ins can also be used as a valuable way to measure a new hire’s experience.

Most importantly, managers should seek to establish a regular cadence of check-ins or performance reviews (no matter how frequent) that fits the needs of their organizational needs.

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Why SMART Goals are Important

The ideas behind SMART are timeless, however if you simplify complex ideas into simple acronyms a lot is lost. That is why we think it is time to go back to the source, and explore exactly what makes SMART goals smart.

We looked at what goal science has to say about the S-M-A-R and T. SMART is still very important, but it might not be for the reasons you've been told.

S is for Specific

The reasoning behind setting “specific” goals is that we perform better when we know what to do. Think about your to do list. Which are the items that get done quickly and which are the ones that seem to stay on your list forever? If you are like me, something like “Buy a dozen eggs” will get done quickly while “Buy a chicken” might stay on my list for weeks. I have lots of experience buying eggs and can get right on it without much thought. I have never bought a chicken and having lived in the city most of my life I’m clueless about where to start.

There have been several studies that prove this. One study, out of Stanford, created two versions of a reward card for a frozen yogurt shop. The first version offered 1 free yogurt after purchasing any six flavors of yogurt in any order. The second version required ordering banana, apple, strawberry, orange, mango, and then grape in that order to receive the free cup.

The customers given the more specific version of the rewards card were 75% more likely to return to the store 6 times, complete the card and get their free cup of yogurt.

Professors Edwin Locke and Gary Latham have also written about this phenomenon. They found that as we move further outside our own area of expertise we have to engage in more and more problem solving to understand how to approach a goal. This can have negative consequences on our ability to stay motivated and complete our goals quickly.

It is a logical idea. If buying eggs is my goal I can move right to completing it. However if I am tasked with buying a chicken I will first have to engage in some problem solving, starting with my very minimal knowledge of chickens and expanding on that knowledge until I know enough to complete the task. This second process involves a lot discovery and does not always happen in a predictable way. The less I know about chickens at the start the longer and more unpredictable the process of buying a chicken will be.

You might have already noticed that buying an egg and buying a chicken are equally specific sentences. Which I did to make the point that just because you give someone a goal that sounds specific does not mean you are living up to the reasoning behind SMART goals. Specific goals should have a clear path to success for the person receiving the goal. If you’ve ever worked with a young intern, you know that specific goals mean different things to different people. For the lowly intern even getting a cup of coffee requires tremendous problem solving.

Lets return to the frozen yogurt example for a moment. There is something I didn’t tell you. The researchers also measured how many people wanted to take part in the rewards program. They presented one of the two versions and asked if the customer would like the rewards card.

Customers presented with the more flexible version (any yogurt in any order) signed up two and a half times more often than customers presented the very specific version!

We are great at completing specific goals, but we want flexible goals. This leaves us with a conflict. On the one hand employees are more likely to want to take on flexible goals that give them autonomy and let them do a little learning and problem solving. On the other hand employees will be most successful with a specific set of goals that requires no thinking, just rote action.

As a manager then we must balance these two forces. Generally goals that push employees slightly beyond their existing skill set, so that their skill set can still be applied to solving the new problem will be both quickly achieved and stimulating for the employee.

Another approach is to ask yourself, am I trying to get buy-in on a new goal or am I trying to get a difficult goal completed? If you want your team to embrace an easy but unpopular goal, consider making it a little less specific and a little more flexible so the team can embrace it and make it their own. If you already have lots of support but the goal is very difficult, consider being very specific so the team can apply their energy to exactly what needs to be done.

All that boiled was down to an "S." Before reading this you might have been forgiven for wondering why your intern still hasn't bought you a chicken.

In summary, the S in S.M.A.R.T. stands for - 

  1. Make sure the person receiving the goal can see a clear path to success
  2. And don't make the goal so rigid that your employee feels like a soulless automaton 

M is for Measurable

A measurable goal includes a metric or metrics that can be tracked so those involved know when the goal has been achieved. Many of us are guilty of setting goals that can’t be measured. For example maybe you have wanted to “be healthier.” Without metrics to quantify that goal it will be very difficult to know how much progress you are making or when you finally achieve "healthier." The unmeasurable goal is also an unclear goal, healthier could mean weighing less, but it could also mean running more.

When we make goals more measurable we also make them more motivating. From the last example, we might decide to throw out our goal to be healthier and replace it with a goal to complete a 5k race in under 30 minutes. This new measurable goal allows us to calculate exactly how much time we need to improve, and there is no ambiguity around if or when we achieve it. In fact there will be a triumphant moment when we cross a literal finish line.

The value of measurable goals is well understood, and Measurable is probably the most popular of the five characteristics of a SMART goal. So rather than convince you to make your goals more measurable, let me make the case that maybe your goals are already too measurable.

George Doran coined the acronym S.M.A.R.T. back in November of 1981, and in his original definition Doran is far less insistent on measurability than many of us are today. Doran said, “Notice these criteria don’t say that all objectives must be quantified...managers can lose the benefit of more abstract objectives in order to gain quantification.”

"Blasphemy!" I hear you say. But Doran is not the only one.

Drs. Edwin Locke and Gary Latham are the grandfathers of the study of modern goal-setting. These two scientists do not even include measurability in their 5 Goal Setting Principles. Instead measurability is discussed only as a way to give your goals more Clarity. For Locke and Latham measurability was important only as much as it made goals more clear, because clear goals are more motivating than ambiguous goals.

Now you might be thinking that Doran, Locke and Latham are luddites from another time. A time before big data, sensors, and tracking everything. Modern companies like Intel, Google, Uber and Twitter only care about things that are totally measurable.

Well lucky for us we know how Intel, Google, Uber and Twitter set goals. They all use a popular framework called OKRs. OKR stands for Objective and Key Results. The objective is a qualitative goal (ie not easily measurable) and the key results are several metrics that will be used to determine if the qualitative goal was achieved. Notice how the squishy unmeasurable goal come first in their framework.

The thing that Doran, Locke, Latham, Intel, Google, Uber and Twitter all have in common is that they don’t choose goals based on measurability. They set the goals that are most important for their companies first then they figure out the best way to measure them.

It is important to separate the goal and how we measure it because when we focus just on hitting certain metrics it can create perverse incentives. For example, maybe as a way to run that 5k race in under 30 minutes we drink a ton of caffeine and take a dangerous supplement. Sure we beat hit our metric, but we definitely did not achieve the original spirit of the goal which was to be healthier.

So by all means keep making your SMART goals measurable, just don’t compromise on what matters just so you have an easier time measuring. The OKR framework is helpful here. Set your goals first and let them be unencumbered by how easy or hard they are to measure. Then figure out how to make them measurable.

A is for Achievable

Oh “Achievable.” How did you get such a prominent position in the most well known framework for creating effective goals?

George Doran’s original SMART had “Assignable” as the A... but he did use “Realistic” for the R. Today the most common SMART acronym uses “Achievable.” But still, whether it is “Realistic” or “Achievable” how is this one of the 5 most important characteristics of an effective goal?

Can you imagine the conversation a rocket scientist who recently read Doran might have had with President Kennedy in the Fall of 1962?

Rocket Scientist: Mr. President I don’t feel like putting a man on the moon in this decade is realistic. What about a more achievable goal like sending a little robot up there?

President Kennedy: We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.

The president knows what he’s talking about, and he’s backed up by the scientific research. In fact almost all goal research says that goals should be difficult or challenging in order to improve employee performance. “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things...because they are hard.”

Unfortunately, SMART doesn't say anything about making our goals difficult. “Brush your teeth on the first Tuesday of every month,” is technically a SMART goal. However, since most of us are setting goals with the purpose of improving performance it seems like a strange omission.

For that reason I think it is important that we bring some nuance to the A in SMART so our goals will be better aligned with the scientific research.

For that lets turn to the work of the famous goal researchers Locke and Latham. They considered the idea of achievable goals, but only in the context of setting challenging goals.

One of the duo's most fundamental findings over their entire career was that, “the more difficult the goal, the greater the achievement.” This finding held true even when the goal was impossible.

But impossible is the opposite of achievable, what is going on here?

Locke and Latham explain it like this, difficult goals drive higher and higher performance as long as a person remains committed to those goals. For a person to be committed to a goal they must 1) believe the goal is worthwhile (we’ll cover this in the next post) and 2) believe the goal is achievable. Finally the word “achievable” in a scientific paper.

What Locke and Latham are saying is that when we set goals they should be the most difficult goal that our employees will believe is achievable, and therefore stay committed to. So yes, our goals should be achievable in the eyes of our employees, but our goals must first be challenging or they will not drive improvements in performance.

When Kennedy is giving his famous Moon Speech he is not interested in compromising on his audacious goal, he is trying to make the country believe in it, believe that it is achievable to go to the moon. Rather than making the goal easier, he is increasing the belief of his people.

Practically what this means is that when we look at the A in SMART it shouldn't make us want to set easier goals. Instead it should remind us to set the most difficult goals that we can then convince our employees are achievable. The A in SMART should really stand for “An almost impossible goal that your employees will believe is achievable.”

Subscribe to our blog to get our next post about the R in SMART - Relevant. We'll dive deeper into the idea of keeping employees committed to goals.

R is for Relevant

Remember Algebra homework? Or maybe your kid’s algebra homework?

When I think back to those days, there is one exasperated question that always comes to mind…

“But when am I ever going to use this stuff again?”

If you think for a moment about how you would answer that question from your teenage self or teenage child, you might just already understand the importance of the next component of SMART goals.

R is for Relevant, and it is the second “commitment modifier” we've talked about. Think of commitment modifiers this way…

You start a new project and you’re totally gung-ho, then things starts to get hard and the little voice inside your head says, “this is impossible” or “this is stupid.” That little voice is reducing your commitment to the goal because it isn’t achievable (impossible) or isn’t relevant (stupid).

The goal researchers Locke and Latham say "When goals are easy or vague, it is easy to get commitment, because it does not require much dedication to reach easy goals. When goals are specific and hard, the higher the commitment the better the performance."

So once we've crafted a difficult and specific goal the job is not over, we have to continuously maintain commitment to it if we want to keep performance high.

Back to the algebra homework, when the little voice inside our head was telling us that algebra is stupid. At this point a good leader, maybe a parent or a teacher, can help bring relevance to the goal by showing us why it matters. For example, “If you want to be an architect (or something else we feel is important) you’ll need to know algebra.” Or “You’re right, as a NFL player you might never use Algebra, but if you want to play in college you’re going to need to get good grades.”

One of the most important things to remember when creating goals for your team is that relevance is not intrinsic to the goal itself. People can find different relevance for the same goal.

Completing an algebra assignment could be relevant for one child because understanding and improving in math is important in its own right, while the same assignment for another student might only get completed because they seek the approval of their parents, and a third student may only do it because they’ve been threatened with expulsion if their grades don’t improve.

One of the most common mistakes managers and business leaders make when setting goals is thinking that a good goal is crafted on the page. They think, let me Google “writing good goals” and then take an hour to scribble down the team’s goals. What you can't write down is the relevance to each team member. The relevance the goal has for you is probably obvious -

“If we increase our Q4 numbers 10% I will look amazing to the boss and I will be in a good position for that promotion I want.”

But you have to remember that those things might not be relevant for everyone on your team. The algebra teacher might assign the night’s homework because “my students need more practice before they are ready for next week’s lesson.”

Meanwhile the students are doing the assignment for totally different reasons, or maybe they don’t have a good reason and aren’t doing the assignment because “it’s stupid.”

So while you might set the same goal for every person on the sales team, you may need to use several different techniques to create relevance.

Something I often hear is “because I said so," that should be relevance enough. That is true to a point, although over time your team’s commitment will start to slip if they don’t have more.

Our favorite goal researchers have a lot to say about this. From Motivation Through Conscious Goal Setting, “There are many ways to convince a person that a goal is important. In work situations, the supervisor or leader can use legitimate authority to get initial commitment. Continued commitment might require additional incentives such as supportiveness, recognition, and rewards.”

So get out there and spend a few moments with each member of your team, talk about the goals you set and help each of them find the relevance they need to succeed long term. Some will be motivated by the success of the company, others by personal power and riches, and a few may just want to avoid getting fired. Whatever it is everyone needs their own relevance or the positive impacts of your well crafted goals will quickly start to fade.

T is for Time Constrained

Time if the fourth dimension, it is a fundamental part of...of just everything. Everything you do happens over the course of time, so to set a goal and not talk about time is just crazy. Time is so fundamental to goals that you’d think we wouldn’t have to talk about it, but we do and we will.

A time-constraint is just a deadline. It could be one deadline, or it could be a recurring deadline. Maybe you don’t want to just complete 1 blog post, but you want to complete 1 every week.

Deadlines get their own letter in SMART, but in the science of goal setting deadlines are important for their impact on two other characteristics of effective goals, Clarity and Difficulty.

Setting clear goals helps us to focus our energy and motivation towards action. If a goal is unclear it can be very disorienting. Imagine you set a goal for yourself to complete a painting and sell it. On it’s surface that is a very clear goal, but if you don’t set a deadline all of a sudden the possibilities become endless. Should you practice for 1 month or 6 months before starting the painting you'll try to sell, how often should you practice, how good should the painting be before you try to sell it.

This is the type of ambiguity that tanks goals. As you start to work towards your goal, things will become difficult, your paintings won't be as good as you expected them to be and the ambiguity in your goal will become the room you need to start making excuses. "I'm still going to sell a painting, I just need more time to practice." "I'm still going to sell a painting, I just only have once-a-week to paint these days." The less ambiguity there is in a goal the less places there are for us to get lost in our pursuit.

If we imagine that our goal had been to sell a painting in 3 months, we can see how that would bring clarity and help us formulate a plan. We'd be able to start working backwards from that date and determining just exactly what we need to do to accomplish our goal. Eventually 3 months would come around and we would either succeed or fail, but either way we'd be futher ahead than if we hadn't set a deadline.

Everything you do is going to take place over time and so any goal you set needs a deadline to have clarity.

The other important aspect of deadlines is their impact on goal difficulty. Locke and Latham talk extensively about the power of difficult goals to increase output. It makes sense, if you think a goal is easy, you’re probably not going to work that hard to achieve it. If it seems really hard, but still achievable and worth doing, you’re going to give it everything you’ve got.

Time can act as a way to increase the difficulty of any goal. Think about it, almost all of us will cover 1 mile on our feet over the course of the next few days, but some people devote their entire lives to covering that same distance in under 4 minutes. It is something that all of us can do, but only becomes a motivating and difficult goal when we put a time constraint on it.

The easiest tasks benefit most from tight deadlines. This is because an easy goal can be made difficult with a deadline and therefore drive high performance. If you ask me to run a mile in the next week then I might not make any progress until the last few minutes of the last day of the week. If you tell me to accomplish the same goal in the next hour, I'm immediately kicked into gear and thinking about getting a change of clothes and some better shoes. If you tell me to cover a mile in the next 10 minutes I'm headed out the door now and I'll just endure the blisters and chaffing. The same goal with three different deadlines and therefore three levels of difficulty, drives three different amounts of effort.

The next time you set a goal don't forget time, it is inescapable.

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What is Management by Objectives (MBO)?

What is Management by Objectives?

Management by objectives is a system for improving employee performance where management and employees jointly create objectives.

According to the theory, having employees offer input on goals and action plans is a way to encourage higher performance and commitment. The idea was first outlined by Peter Drucker in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management. Drucker pointed out that employees often lose sight of their objectives because of an “activity trap”. When we get too involved in our current activities, we forget the original purpose. With MBO we jointly agree on common identified goals, which helps to eliminate the activity trap and keep us focused and aligned to our goals.

How does MBO work?

MBO is a results-driven strategic approach to goal setting. The process begins by defining specific objectives through shared discussion, then collaboratively deciding on how to achieve them in sequence. This would allow managers to pace work accordingly and create a more productive environment. As a result, employees see their own accomplishments as they complete each objective reinforcing a sense of achievement. Ideally, employees will fulfill their responsibilities because they have personally been involved with the goal-setting process as well as brainstorming with management on how to reach them. Meeting objectives is later graded with group input and often incentivized.

Why does MBO work?

MBO’s success can be attributed to several important features. The first one is the equal participation of both managers and subordinates. This model cannot function properly unless both parties are aware of their roles and participation. Secondly, MBO emphasizes a joint goal-setting and joint decision-making feature. Superiors bring their knowledge and experience to the table, while subordinates help determine the speed and capacity in which goals can be reached. Lastly, the MBO model ranks high on support levels. Because of its dynamic, managers and employees are forced into effective communication resulting in stronger relationships and positive work environments.

What are the steps?

There are several steps to the MBO process:

  1. Identify organizational goals - Goals must be realistic and achievable, which helps to guarantee your best results.
  2. Define employee objectives - Translate organizational goals to employees. The purpose is to make sure each employee is aware of the objectives and willing to participate in the process.
  3. Monitor progress - Here, management needs to provide proper resources and support so employees can follow through with their action plans. Making the progress measurable is key. If you can show that objectives are being met, your employee will likely experience personal growth and be further motivated.
  4. Performance evaluation and feedback - MBO traditionally uses positive recognition.
  5. Reward Performance - After a performance evaluation, your employee should be rewarded for high performance.

The Pros and Cons of MBO

Management by Objectives has a variety of benefits. The most obvious one is the amount of employee participation and engagement. Increased participation creates a positive work environment as employees feel the direct impact of their mutual work effort. This leads to more motivated employees and a higher level of job satisfaction. Another benefit of MBO is it develops stronger communication skills. The model requires a substantial amount of input and feedback which helps everyone to improve their exchange of ideas. Better communication equals better relationships and clearer direction. Lastly, and probably the best pro to consider, MBO is easily applicable to any organization at all. It is not difficult to implement, no matter the type of industry or size. It can truly suit the needs of most organizations without incurring major costs.

Criticisms however do exist. The most criticized issue of Management by Objectives is its short-sightedness. Some believe MBO has the tendency to consume an entire organization’s resources solely towards achieving goals, overlooking other important needs. This produces the mentality of achieving goals “at all costs” where employees are tempted to focus only on the finish line without considering the quality of their work. If the employee is a manager, this stifles leadership as well. Efforts become polarized as employees begin to focus only on their own set of objectives instead of the bigger picture. Another criticism is the joint approach doesn’t work well when challenges concerning incompatible needs arise. Some would say it is too time consuming and difficult to sustain over time. The most interesting criticism might be that MBO misses the human point. Because it is organization-centric, questions regarding the managers’ personal objectives, needs, and relevance are many times left unanswered.

In Conclusion

Management by Objectives is now a popular and widely used management theory. I believe its appeal to conduct business in a positive, productive work environment would catch anyone’s attention. Decisions don’t feel top-down and each member of the organization contributes equally. The synergetic approach does not lack in benefits and implementing this system is straightforward and clear. Ultimately, keep in mind that MBO leaves behind a demand to meet both organizational and individual purposes, which can easily become problematic without proper leadership.

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How Does Uber Do Performance Management?

You’ve used the service or at least heard of it. Uber is everywhere. They’ve made many newsworthy moves over the past decade, not just by shaking up the taxi industry, but also by how they’ve handled internal matters such as performance management and employee relations.

How They Manage Their Contract Drivers

One unique aspect of Uber’s business is their relationship to drivers. Drivers can sign on to work or sign out at will. The Uber platform manages the workforce algorithmically, using incentives like surge pricing, ratings, and extensive online training content.

After every Uber ride, the rider rates the driver and vice versa. These regular performance ratings have a real impact on both the driver’s and the rider’s ability to continue to use the platform.

It’s simple, but this regular measurement has a major effect. It’s often called the “observer effect.” Our behaviors change when we know we are being observed.

Uber has created an automated performance management system. It’s like a robot manager. Here’s what that looks like in more detail.


First, they set goals and clear expectations. How so? When a new driver registers with Uber, they are provided with extensive rules on how they’re expected to perform. This includes very specific ways your account can become deactivated (aka you get fired).


Second, the continuous feedback process at the end of each Uber service takes care of monitoring performance and measuring key performance indicators. While ratings have their issues, very frequent ratings from many different people will balance out any biases that might exist in a smaller sample. Although there are some types of biases that can’t be eliminated.


Third, there is at type of performance appraisal. Most companies do this once per year but this looks different for Uber contract drivers. If your driver rating ever drops below 4.6, you’ll be dismissed, whereas if you have consistent high ratings, you get a VIP status with additional benefits. This sounds a bit like a continuous rank and yank. Eliminate the worst drivers and reward the top performers.

Performance Management for Everyone Else

Uber’s former performance management system relied heavily on a standard ranks and ratings process but after some of the recent scandals they’ve done away with it.

Uber has a new strategy they call the “T3 B3 process.”

T3 B3 stands for “top three bottom three”, and it asks employees to list their top three qualities or strengths and bottom three areas that need improving. Goals are then derived from these answers and entered into a system which can be accessed by everyone; employees, managers, top executives, etc.

Uber prefers this collaborative review process over the old one because it focuses on development rather than past behavior.

Feedback is given formally and frequently and it gets categorized into positive reinforcement or constructive advice.

Although they believe that positive reinforcement is the key to improvement, constructive advice is necessary for making adjustments. Managers check their feedback ratios on a weekly basis and try to keep them balanced.

In addition to the individual goals around job performance, Uber also has employees set citizenship goals. Employees can create goals for doing good for someone else inside or outside the company.

The “doing good” could be anything from pro bono work, or helping out your fellow co-workers, Uber drivers, or Uber customers.

Why the switch to T3 B3?

Uber’s traditional performance review focused too much on employees' past behavior rather than future capabilities, and having gone through many changes over the past few years, it was time for a brighter outlook.

Employees complained that the old process was subjective and lacked communication which enabled managers to get away with their biases. With minimal feedback, it felt like they were simply being told “this is what you’re good at, this is what you’re bad at, and here’s a score.”

What do Uber Employees Say?

Leadership at Uber claim that their current performance management system promotes a celebration of people, but what do employees say?

Some have noted that “the culture at Uber is excellent” with a “fast paced environment and very low stress levels.” They also believe that “colleagues are what make this place great; very friendly coworkers who are intellectual and hard working.”

Their biggest complaints were over navigating the constant change of leadership and priorities.

Online reviews also show that employees love all the perks like free lunches and flexible time off, but almost everyone complains about the challenge of growing within the company, something that seems to have made a large impact from the previous culture.

So what about the contract drivers? what do they think? They love the independence and freedom the Uber platform affords them, but would like to see better benefits, something that is challenging to provide when you’re set up as a contract worker instead of full time staff. Driver comments online also show the frustration of wearing down their vehicles, and the unexpected costs they incur.

Uber has done a lot of interesting things to manage performance, is there anything that might work at your organization?

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A Manager's Guide to Performance Appraisal Meetings

Performance review meetings can be stressful. It can feel like you're gearing up for a confrontation -- but maybe it’s not as hard as you’d think.

We brought together an approach that can help anyone have more effective performance meetings. If you’re looking to feel more confident and comfortable while having better, more productive conversations with employees in your upcoming performance review meetings, here is where to start.

How to Structure a Meeting

Set the Tone and Agenda

The goal of the performance review--and what you should make clear from the beginning--is to talk through what is working and what isn’t, with the purpose of helping the employee, the manager, and the company achieve their goals.

The employee should understand that the purpose of the meeting is to establish what they can and should do to succeed going forward.

Share upfront how you intend to structure the meeting. As you'll see we believe in starting with goals, moving to strengths and ending with a conversation on improvements.

Start with Goals

Yes, you read that right. While it might seem more natural to finish with setting goals for the future -- we submit that discussing goals first will help to better frame the rest of the performance review conversation.

Establishing the employee’s goals should help set up and inform the entire discussion of strengths, accomplishments, and ways to improve.

If you understand an employee's motivations it will make the later discussions about improvements more fruitful. Rather than saying, "I'd like you to be better at X," you will be able to say, "I think if you get better at X it could go a long way at helping you achieve your goals of Y."

Also, if you uncover greatly misaligned goals at this point, it is important to address those first. If you want an employee to be a future leader, but they're just here to count time until their art career takes off, then that will change the rest of the conversation.

Discuss Accomplishments

Give employees a chance to advocate for themselves first. This will also help you better understand what the employee believes is high performance. Again maybe there is misalignment there.

Frame any accomplishments with the "why" it matters to help place them with their impact on the team and organization. This will help focus the discussion when it's easier so that when the topic turns to weaknesses the tone has already been set.

For example, an employee could tell great jokes around the water cooler, and everyone could agree it is a great strength, but when we focus on the why, it puts the jokes in their rightful place.

Address strengths as they are brought up, reinforce the ones that you feel matter for the organization. Push back if the employee fixates on accomplishments that you don't believe are as impactful.

Stick with perceptions and hard facts, don't label. The truth is you can't know who the employee is as a person, all you know is your own perceptions and facts. Even if your label is correct, you can't prove it. Conversations about labels quickly degrade into unwinnable arguments.

Always push for concrete examples. Don't let your employees list off a bunch of perceived strengths without backing them up. Strengths are only as valuable as the accomplishments they generate.

Discuss Improvements

When discussing improvements, it’s important to give the employee a chance to be self-aware and bring up their own ideas for improving. Employee will be much more likely to receive constructive feedback, and walk away from a review fully bought-in to making necessary improvements if they raise the idea initially.

Like accomplishments, always frame improvements with the “why” -- how the employee’s increased, optimized performance ties in to their impact on their team or company. Giving concrete examples is also a helpful tool in this portion of the review, in order to avoid misinterpretation.

Big, abstract concepts such as “leadership” leave plenty of room for confusion and uncertainty. In our post on delivering criticism that employees appreciate, we suggest that identifying specific issues and focusing on specific solutions helps to engage employees around finding a solution as well.

Finally, close out the meeting by negotiating a plan and a timeline to revisit improvements. It doesn’t hurt to also reaffirm the employee’s strengths and achievements, especially your good performers. Make it clear that your intentions behind criticism and feedback are to clarify expectations, to provide direction for the coming year, and to help the employee move from good to great.

Conversation Do’s and Don’ts


  • Come prepared. Obtain and bring the necessary materials and data to already be well-informed about the employee’s performance, strengths, and achievements before the conversation begins.
  • Be direct, factual, and detail-oriented. An honest conversation paves the way for effective performance reviews. Instead of sugarcoating the review for poor performers, use the face-to-face interaction to call for improvement. Be intentional to point out work-related behaviors that you want the employee to stop, start, or continue.
  • Listen intentionally. Ask questions and make sure to allow the employee to share his or her thoughts, views, and perceptions of their own performance. Understand that change can be jarring for employees, and remain calm if emotions become heightened.


  • Wait until the formal review. If you’ve observed performance issues in an employee, make sure you’re maintaining an ongoing system of feedback and communication so that there are no surprises in the performance appraisal.
  • Confuse the job for the person. Your conversation during performance reviews should be focused on an employee’s overall work performance based on specific, job-related criteria--not their attitude, personality, or character. Focus on the job, not the person.
  • Focus on negative behaviors. Be sure you’re engaging around solutions, not just pointing out problems. Employees want feedback that propels them in the right direction, and chances are they wish to play just as big of a role in finding solutions as you.
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What is Modern Performance Management? 5 Steps to Create a Process

Modern performance management is about designing a process that is unique to your organization and its culture. Even with outside role models and inspiration, the most successful organizations are being driven more by what they see inside their company than what they learn elsewhere.

For example, Adobe, Deloitte, and GE each designed a unique performance management strategy, and despite three very different approaches, each was a perfect fit for their organization.

Does modern performance management mean the death of traditional performance reviews? Not exactly.

Sensational headlines would suggest traditional performance reviews are a thing of the past. And yet the leaders of the performance management revolution have all continued to use aspects of traditional reviews in some form.

Adobe still uses end-of-year reviews that summarize performance and allow for discussions about compensation. They chose to reduce the length of these reviews and add quarterly check-ins to create a more ongoing dialog around performance.

Deloitte transitioned to a short four-question review system administered at the end of every project or quarter—whichever comes first. They use these more frequent reviews to create employee rankings, which drive promotion and compensation at the end of the year.

GE introduced a real time feedback app, but they also continue to do annual reviews, which they now call Summary Conversations. Instead of bringing up new ideas, the end of year discussions summarize feedback.

Modern performance management can be intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple. There isn’t some new “right” way to do things. It’s all about taking the old tools and bringing them together in a way that best serves your organization.

5 Steps to Creating a Modern Performance Management Strategy

We’ve taken what we've learned from working with hundreds of customers and put together a plan for any organization to create their own modern performance management process.

We've expanded on this post with a full guide here:

Creating a Modern Performance Management System

1. Understand Your Organization

Be sure you begin the process with a clear understanding of your own organization in the context of performance management. PwC provides a good place to start—they identify four building blocks for diagnosing the needs of your organization and determining your Organizational DNA. 

  • Decision Rights: Understand how decisions are made, who is influencing them, and who is making them.
  • Information Flows: How does knowledge and information move around your organization? Are their formal channels? 
  • Motivators: Identify teams’ and individuals’ objectives, opportunities, and incentives—how does your company’s history and existing practices impact them?
  • Structure: Create a formal organization model with clearly distinguished roles and responsibilities.

The performance management strategy that works for you will be different from what works for other organizations because other organizations will differ on these factors. For example, the right strategy for a flat video game development company will be very different from a 50 year old insurance organization with lots of hierarchy.

2. Set a North Star

Performance management can serve several purposes, and it is important to identify which is right for your organization. Here are a few of the most common-

  • Accountability
  • Development
  • Recognition
  • Engagement
  • Organizational Alignment
  • Reinforcing values

The military has historically focused their performance management strategies on accountability and recognition. In organizations with strict hierarchies and well-defined roles this makes a lot of sense.

In many creative organizations, like Betterment, the focus in on alignment. Flat organizations with many ill defined roles can struggle to together in one direction.

3. Use the Three Building Blocks

With a clear purpose, you’re now ready to develop a clear process. At PerformYard, we’ve found nearly every performance management strategy can be built with just three parts:

  • Reviews: While we’ve seen a lot of pushback against performance reviews, some type of structured review process continues to serve an important purpose. Regularly scheduling reviews allows for longer-term reflection on performance, and a formal process keeps things fair and transparent.
  • Goals: High quality goals will not only motivate your team and move everyone in the same direction, they also form the bedrock of constructive performance conversations. When everyone can agree in advance on what success looks like, then it is much easier to discuss what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Feedback: Feedback is what connects reviews and goals to an employee’s day-to-day. You can think of review meetings and goal meetings as the planning for how we’d like to perform. Feedback takes those intentions and reinforces them, putting them to action throughout the entire year.

4. Get Out of the Way

As HR leaders we care deeply about these topics. It is our job. However, it is important to remember that it is not the job of most people at our organizations. Some employees might even see our performance management processes as a distraction.

That is why it is so important to put on our product designer hats and think of our employees as customers of our product. Customers don’t want confusing and time-consuming products that don’t provide them clear value.

If you’re current system is bulky and disliked internally, the first thing to do is fix that.

You won’t have any buy-in to build on your existing performance management process until you make it easy and useful.

At PerformYard we streamline any performance management process you want to run. By design we do not force anything on our customers. Whether you want to do annual manager reviews or are going to try weekly 360s it can all be managed simply in PerformYard.

Once you’ve streamlined your existing process, then it’s time to start iterating.

5. Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

If your company has more than 1 employee there is already some type of performance management in place whether its formal or informal. And one of the great benefits of accepting that there is no magical right way to do performance management is that you can embrace your existing process and start improving it year after year.

Rather than make wholesale changes to your process every year, keep what’s working and drop what isn’t. For example, maybe this year you add 4 quarterly conversation, and remove a third of the questions from your annual review. See how that works, then next year adjust again.


Modern performance management is about doing what’s right for your organization. While a big clunky annual review may no longer be right for you, that doesn’t mean you need to make a jump to continuous feedback and OKRs. You already have the building blocks, so simplify your process and start iterating. Before you know it you’ll have your own modern performance management process.

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3 Ways to Improve your Performance Review Forms

When performance reviews are faulty, it is easy to recognize that change is necessary. Yet finding the solution may not prove to be so simple.

You might find yourself caught in a routine of trying every new strategy, but this can make things worse.

Safeguard yourself from this common mistake by improving your forms in 3 easy steps:

1. Keep Them Short

If you’re in HR you’re already dealing with a great deal of paperwork. Don’t over do it with ineffectual and tedious review forms. The key here is to balance the depth and frequency of the review process.

Deloitte has found that a large part of the review process is actually useless. When redesigning their performance management system, it was noticed that managers were being asked to answer an awful lot of questions about their employee’s abilities in different skill categories. Yet research has shown that people are horrible at rating skills, which means these sections of the review were probably generating meaningless data.

For example, these types of questions are almost always guaranteed on a review form: “How well does this employee live up to the company value of ‘Be Genuine’?” That is a well intentioned question but unfortunately it creates data that never gets used. In fact, that data should probably never be used because it is likely meaningless as well.

All of the questions that weren't serving the needs of their quantitative review were removed from Deloitte's form.

A Raise or Promotion?

During this overhaul, Deloitte wanted to develop a way to categorize employees when deciding upon their compensation or promotion.

The team looked at their current review process which involved extensive ranking discussions and a long review form. The form also involved many skill-focused questions, which again caused their current process to be overly inefficient when trying to recognize these two needs.

The original goal of the lengthy forms was to create a way of scoring and identifying employees. Once classified, the data would be used across the organization to make decisions about promotions and compensation. For Deloitte, the quantitative feedback gathered about their teams is particularly important because they do not use their structured reviews as a way to force team leaders into managing. Instead, managing the team is left up to the manager.

So how did they minimize their forms while maintaining the original intent? It brings us to our second tip. Ask easy questions.

2. Ask Easy Questions

Keep it simple and ask what you really want to know.

Don’t beat around the bush, try to be too clever, or do complex analysis of multiple questions. Chances are just asking one solid question will do. For example, I could ask you about the smokiness of the pepperonis on your pizza, the gooeyness of the cheese, and the crunch of the crust. Or I could just ask “did you like your pizza?”

One of Deloitte’s famous “simplifications” turned out to be their decision to ask managers if they want to have an employee on their team again. It seems quite feeble but their prior strategy was for managers to first rate employees on several characteristics, then analyze those answers and assign the employee a rating. Their old system was just a more complex method of reaching the same basic result.

Ask questions that can be answered.

Sounds too easy right? Indeed, but reviews are infamous for asking managers to score employees on things like impactfulness. How will your managers know what a “3” versus a “4” is in impactfulness? It is necessary to either give them an especially thorough training on how to answer your questions, or ask questions they already know how to answer.

You can ask the reviewer the following two questions in order to receive the same input/feedback: “Do you think the reviewee should be promoted to management?” or “Score the employee 1-9 on the following six qualities of a manager.” One is much easier to answer.

3. Focus On the Future

If you have a once-a-year process that emphasizes financial rewards and punishments, whether you mean to or not, your focus is holding people accountable for past behavior rather than improving current and future performance. Asking the right performance review questions at the right time is crucial.


Touching base with your employees on a regular basis makes reviews more of an ongoing process that shifts the focus forward. They can motivate and modify performance, adjust goals or recognize employees in actual time instead of reflectively.

Ask questions that look ahead.

Secondly, ask questions that invite the employee to look ahead. Rather than asking what their biggest strength is, you can ask which one of their personal strengths will be most important in the coming year. Another example is asking “what serves you the most while working on this project” instead of “are your strengths being maximized here?” As you can see, specific, engaging words leave no room for ambiguity.

Be present.

Lastly, make sure you are present. Don’t just review mechanically. In order to affect future behavior, you must work with your employees in real time. Uncommon, but truly effective questions such as these make a big impact; “Have you been given enough feedback to adequately work on this?” or “What feedback or training do you think would have better prepared you for this challenge?” Employees need to know that when all is said and done, their performance reviews are making a difference.

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How does Facebook do Performance Management

Facebook stands apart from the crowd in more ways than one. Their performance management strategy is no different.

Although some Fortune 500 companies are moving away from performance evaluations, Facebook is standing firm by conducting biannual 360 reviews. The company also facilitates a continuous stream of real-time feedback, allowing employees across the globe to give and receive feedback.

Peer reviews and feedback has the potential to create a competitive and hostile work environment -- but from what it sounds like, you won’t hear employees complain about that at Facebook. Instead, coworkers often exchange feedback with complete cordiality and civility, to the point that one news outlet labeled the work atmosphere “cult-like.”

Whether or not the employees are as happy as their Facebook profiles make it seem is up for debate, but one thing is certain -- Facebook’s talent is certainly taking the already-successful company even greater heights.

Let’s take a deeper look at Facebook’s performance management strategy.

Facebook's approach to performance management

Employees and managers at Facebook generally know what to expect when biannual performance reviews roll around. Due to the company’s continuous stream of 360 real-time feedback, everyone has a good understanding of an employee’s performance prior to the appraisal, minimizing any uncertainty or ambiguity on both ends.

All of Facebook’s global employees have access to internal software that enables real-time feedback among coworkers, while management uses the software to keep track of project progress and provide general support. The information gathered in this system, as well as the feedback collected from three to five close colleagues in peer reviews, is what managers use to determine each employee’s performance at the biannual review.

Molly Graham, a software engineer at Facebook, shared online that the actual process of gathering 360 feedback is dubbed the Performance Summary Cycle. According to Graham, “There is a two week period where employees solicit peer feedback (usually 3-5 peer reviews), and write a self assessment. Managers then read all the peer feedback and the self assessment and determine a ‘Performance Assessment’ or rating of the employee's performance over the last six months as well as whether or not it is the right time to promote the employee.”

You’re probably thinking: “Don’t they also decide which employees to fire?”

In an interview with Business Insider, Facebook’s VP of People Lori Goler stated that the company’s evaluations act as checkpoints rather than in-depth investigations into an employee’s performance. Goler claims that if anything is surprising in these reviews, then “something has gone horribly wrong.”

In other words, management seizes the opportunity during performance reviews to reward the performance of exceptional employees, whereas underperforming employees rarely make it to their performance review.

Employees walk away from their appraisals with a grade out of seven. The numbers are given definitions from “redefines” to “does not meet.” This stack ranking system has obviously worked to some degree, as evidenced by the social network’s astronomical success and impressive talent, but it has had a somewhat polarizing effect among employees and ex-employees.

Potential Problems

According to a 2016 edition of the Harvard Business Review, Facebook promotes three core values in their performance management strategy: fairness, transparency, and development.

However, it sounds like some ex-employees would argue that the company did not always live up to these values.

In January 2019, Salvador Rodriguez of CNBC conducted in-depth interviews with more than a dozen former employees to ascertain how the felt about Facebook’s performance culture. The Ex-employees likened the company to a cult, claiming that employees feel a distinct pressure to never show dissent, to keep up appearances on their Facebook profiles, and to force cordiality and friendships with their coworkers in order to advance.

Here are few statements from these employees regarding their struggle with the company’s performance review system:

“It is not OK to act like this is not the best place to work." - Former employee

"People are very mindful about who they're connected with on Facebook who they also work with and how what they're posting will put them in a favorable light to their managers.” - Former employee

"It's a little bit of a popularity contest. [With the Peer Reviews ] you can cherry-pick the people who like you — maybe throw in one bad apple to equalize it." - Former manager

In direct opposition to COO Sheryl Sandberg’s personal mantra to strive for authenticity at all costs, one former employee claimed, "I never felt it was an environment that truly encouraged 'authentic self' and encouraged real dissent because the times I personally did it, I always got calls.”

Many of these ex-employees attributed Facebook’s recent series of scandals to its so-called no-dissent work culture. If employees had been encouraged to give honest and critical feedback, they said, some of these problems may have been caught prior to their exposure in the media.

While the peer review component of their performance management strategy may be an efficient way of assessing each employee’s strengths in such a large company, many former employees felt that it often turned into a simple popularity contest where coworkers were pitted against one another to compete for advancement.

However, there are two sides to every coin, and there are obvious and unmistakable benefits to Facebook’s performance management system that are hard to ignore.

The Benefits of Facebook’s Strategy

Lori Goler, along with head of HR Business Partners Janelle Gale and writer Adam Grant, implored fellow HR representatives and companies not to “throw the baby out with the bath water” when it comes to performance reviews, claiming that the complete disregard of performance reviews is an overreaction to how they’re executed. Facebook’s implemented system was discovered to be the most practical and efficient among the various methods they tried. They write:

“Many companies that are abandoning performance evaluations are moving to real-time feedback systems. That is an excellent way to help people repeat their successes and learn from their failures. But it doesn’t help them—or the organization—gauge how they’re doing overall.”

And employees seem to agree--in an internal study, Facebook concluded that over 87% of people wanted to keep performance ratings.

Employees recognize that the system has flaws, but most also agreed that what they have is better than no reviews at all.

Former Facebook manager Daniel Ho claimed that the company’s performance review software and 360 feedback twice a year made it easy for employees to give and receive recognition and visibility. Ho said, “Facebook's process was transparent enough that I knew where I stood and what I needed to work on. It was hard not to notice that managers cared about giving employees ownership, responsibility, and opportunities to learn.”

And Goler et al. agree -- at Facebook, performance reviews are used to help employees understand how their contributions matter to the company’s growth, as well as to more easily recognize and reward top performance.

What to take away

Here’s what we can glean from the way Facebook has constructed its performance management system:

While performance evaluations are not necessarily the perfect system, and can have costly flaws, they are certainly better than no reviews at all. Without formal reviews, performance will still get rated in another, more secretive manner that leaves employees in the dark and creates a sense of distrust toward management.

Even continuous real-time feedback, while a helpful tool to improve an employee’s performance, can employees unsure of their impact on the company overall.

More Inspiration

Facebook is not the only organization going its own way. These days most great organizations are thinking critically about performance management and coming up with innovative new solutions. Here are a few more examples to help inspire your own strategy.

3 Approaches to Performance Management: Google, Betterment and IBM

Performance Management at Tesla: What we know.

How Regeneron Built Their Performance Management System

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?

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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