• March 21, 2017

Feedback Loop: Revolutionizing Performance Reviews With Tech

Ditch annual employee reviews in favor of appraisal apps.

When it comes to performance reviews, managers spend way too many hours trying to reconstruct a year’s worth of information about each and every direct report, as well as approve performance reviews written by supervisors they oversee. The staff is freaking out trying to reconstruct a year’s worth of work, training, and accolades to justify any merit increase they hope to get. And little else is getting done.

It’s little wonder many organizations have done away with the annual review in favor of more frequent feedback conversations between managers and employees. And they are using mobile enterprise applications to make it much easier.

The Challenge of Annual Reviews

As professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources at The Wharton School, Peter Cappelli has been studying performance reviews for years. And he’s found the core problem: “The annual review is structured in a way that makes it almost impossible for it to work.”

To be effective, Cappelli tells Enterprise Forward, the annual review requires a manager to “observe the appropriate sample of performance, then remember it accurately, and then deliver it.” And even if the appraisal captures the perfect amount and type of information, the fact that you’re telling an employee about it six months after the fact makes it nearly worthless.

Success or Failure Without Formal Reviews

When formal annual reviews go away, one of two things can occur:

  • You can move to a combination of formal and informal appraisal sessions to provide ongoing feedback the employee can immediately use to improve. (You want this.)
  • You can put off those meetings, and employees can go without feedback. (You obviously don’t want this.)

Cappelli says the big bet when getting rid of the annual performance review is “whether companies can apply the attention to this approach to make it work.” If you’re not committed to making your corporate culture conducive to ongoing feedback conversations, then you’ll need to undergo a culture change before doing away with annual reviews.

Where Tech Comes In

Apps can make it easier to keep the feedback loop open on an ongoing basis—and make performance information available right when it can make a difference.

When General Electric killed the performance review, it created its own app to manage ongoing feedback. But if your organization doesn’t have the resources—or the need—to go completely custom, third-party mobile enterprise applications, including Impraise, Workday, and Reflektive, allow companies to create custom employee appraisal systems that allow anytime, anywhere feedback and development. Some even include integration into training plans so employees can show how their professional development funds are being used to address specific feedback and company goals.

The fact is that annual reviews aren’t working for most companies, and technology tools can make it easier to create a culture that provides ongoing feedback and development to retain and inspire all of its employees.

Like this story? Learn more about using technology to encourage employee collaboration and how you can create a culture of employee empowerment.