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Guest blog by Sharon Dorsett, PhD, of Dorsett Organizational Dynamics, who offers her perspective on annual performance evaluations and new ways of thinking about the process.

The dreaded annual review: it can be awkward, time draining, formulaic, anxiety-provoking, and often demoralizing for all involved. Why do we put our managers, employees, and HR team through this every year?

If your organization is similar to most, you conduct annual performance reviews the same way every year because that’s simply the routine: At the end of a long year, managers provide feedback, set goals with employees, and any end-of-the-year bonuses or salary increases may be revealed.

New thinking is that this process is antiquated and may not serve the best interests of organizations or employees.

Consider the following:

  1. Is setting aside time once a year for a performance review sufficient?

Most people agree that a year is a long time to wait between setting goals and determining whether or not they have been met. This may result in an annual meeting that feels obligatory rather than developmental, and the feedback might seem untimely, or not especially relevant. Much can be forgotten or overlooked in a year!

Today’s trend in performance management is moving toward “continuous coaching and development,” which means holding more frequent reviews (often quarterly and including additional feedback from colleagues) so managers can provide consistent and timely feedback. When there is greater openness and a productive exchange of information, the feedback process should become more efficient and effective.

  1. How does this new trend affect the role of managers?

Traditionally, a manager’s role has been to supervise and evaluate subordinates. Today, employees are taking an increased level of ownership of their performance, which consequently frees up managers to focus on coaching and developing individuals and teams.

Through continued leadership development, managers should be provided with support as they learn coaching and mentoring skills. They can be helped to understand the impact of their actions on company strategy and should view their role as instrumental in developing their teams.

  1. Does the current performance management system serve the organization strategically, and what should your managers be doing with their feedback?

Performance management has taken on new meaning. Rather than being utilized to “command and control,” it is evolving to advance the development of individuals, teams, and the organization—all of which can positively impact current operations and facilitate succession planning. In this context, when managers provide feedback, they should . . .

  • clarify expectations
  • set challenging and specific goals
  • build on current skills
  • provide individuals with opportunities for growth


So, is your performance management system working for you?

Only you can answer that question. Organizations are encouraged to consider new ways of improving processes for employee feedback and development. If you have questions or need further assistance, contact KMA. We are here to help.

Watch for another guest blog from Sharon Dorsett in the coming weeks in which she’ll focus on on tying compensation incentives to performance reviews.