Last year Accenture, among others, decided to cut the cord, and eliminate annual performance reviews. Plenty of pundits have weighed in on this being a good idea, with only a few people saying that it could cause some serious problems for the giant consulting company or others who have started to follow the trend.
It does seem to make logical sense that providing more regular feedback throughout the year would be a better way to manage employees, determine performance, and set up rewards. Most articles covering the big shift argue that the current systems in place tend to cost the companies a lot of money and don’t tend to get the results that they want, i.e., better managed performance.
All very interesting points, and important for us to consider, but I’m even more interested in the human impact. I’m interested in what it means for the average director and manager to move from an annual process to a more fluid, consistent feedback loop. I think it may bring an unexpected benefit in helping your employees build their unique, personal brand — which may help you out in the long run.
A more frequent feedback loop means that the worker is expected to work on consistently achieving goals. Giving them this chance for extra-frequent check-ins can bring focus on how they are using their specific skills to make progress in reaching our shared goals.
Smart employers know the value of personal branding for their employees and are pursuing strategies to ensure that they can benefit from it. Increasingly, companies like IBM, Dell, Intel, Coca Cola and Cisco are empowering employees to share marketing messages and increase their social engagement – anticipating a positive impact on sales for the company. It’s called Social Advocacy and you may want to investigate using it to expand you corporate brand reach and influence.
So if your company is one of the enlightened few moving to this new year-round performance paradigm, or even if you aren’t, here are some suggestions about how to build your employee’s personal brand through the performance review cycle.
- Help them determine positioning – Before they meet with you to set goals, ask them to take an inventory about what makes them such a contender. What are their unique skills and talents that make them successful? You’ll want to have these elements woven into the strategies that you execute through the year. If they are stellar at forming close, trusted relationships across departments, then make sure that you find a way to keep updated on all the ways that their superior people skills are generating real results for you. I can’t emphasize enough: DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS WORK. They need to do some serious digging and make sure they can talk about themselves in clear ways that connect to the team’s hard results.
- Set and clarify realistic goals and metrics – Clarify your goals with your employee, and make sure you don’t just talk about the raw numbers (that are important), but also the how’s and why’s behind the figures. That way you’re both aligned with what you expect to see as they start achieving them.
- Aim for feedback that drives action – Determine the kind of feedback that helps them the most, and what kind demotivates them. Give them the tools to help you stay in touch and keep them focused on what matters. Work with them to determine how best to guide them, and then deliver the kind of input that makes it clear how they are progressing.
- Clear the calendar – Set up checkpoints throughout the year to touch base on progress and course-correct. Remember that these moments are important in continuing to stimulate and motivate your employee and ensure they’re building a reputation around their brand. Prepare for these meetings, and make sure your feedback pays you the dividends you need.
- Listen with both ears – When giving and getting intermittent feedback, it’s super important that you internalize and understand the frustrations and obstacles they are experiencing. Check your understanding with them to make sure that you’re receiving what they’re sending, and don’t let wires get crossed, or the benefits of frequent feedback can get lost. Being able to catch serious problems faster or spot big opportunities quicker is a key advantage of frequent feedback, so you want to get all the value possible from each meeting. Specifically ask about how their own unique skills are being exercised as they progress, and how they are showcasing these abilities to other stakeholders in the organization and with customers.
- Don’t fear the red flag – If your employees think you don’t want to hear about trouble or delays, then you’ll be sure to never hear about it until it’s too late. Make sure they know that forewarned is forearmed, and you don’t want anyone hiding any barriers from success. Make it clear that their personal brand has to be one that promises “No Nasty Surprises!” And just because you have scheduled meetings, do take advantage of any other touchpoints to check in informally. Don’t let important information wait until your scheduled quarterly meeting. If they are running into problems that merit your attention, ask them to step up and alert you.
- Document, document, document – Be sure to take notes on your progress for your employee and yourself. Different people learn and internalize progress differently, but a popular method for consistent score-checking is to design some kind of dashboard, which puts progress into an unequivocal metric that both of you can read at a glance. Consider putting together one of these dashboards for yourself, if not for your boss and team (more on these dashboards can be found here).
Doing away with the year-end performance review is not going to solve all your company’s problems or remove all the stress of managing employee performance. However, it can create new opportunities for developing the personal brand of your employees. So don’t let those quarterly touch-base meetings go to waste!
MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of personal branding. Find out more here.