It’s time to ditch annual reviews and embrace continuous performance management, where teams are equipped with the tools and feedback they need to succeed all year round

Speakers at our Insider event, Transforming HR in the Digital Era

Performance reviews and assessments should be candid, two-way conversations that are meaningful to employees, according to Kelli Jordan, director of career, skills, and performance at IBM.

"When you think about the culture of performance, it’s all-encompassing. It’s about personal growth, internal mobility, it’s about recognition and development," Jordan said during Insider’s recent virtual event "Transforming HR in the Digital Era," presented by Paycom, which took place on June 15.

The panel, titled, "The Importance of Continuous Performance Management," was moderated by Insider’s careers and strategy reporter Aman Kidwai and featured Jordan along with Delida Costin, chief legal and people officer at Grove Collaborative.

Costin explained how in 2020, the home-essentials delivery firm used the problems presented by the pandemic as an opportunity to do away with performance reviews. Instead, they introduced feedback training and programs.

"We really created a dynamic where people could practice those skills upwards and downwards … where they were better equipped to have conversations about roles and responsibilities that are shifting so quickly," she said.

Costin added that Grove gets much of its information about what’s critical from these conversations with employees. Her advice? "Don’t be beholden to your tools and to the systems that are already in place," she said. "There are so many ways that we can accomplish the objectives that we need … we can learn our way into the best result." 

Jordan said that IBM is already well on its way down this path, having created a continuous performance program called "checkpoint" for its employees five years ago.

"We set goals in an agile, iterative manner throughout the course of the year, where we have regular checkpoints between employees and managers on progress," she said. IBM has reframed its annual reviews into multidimensional, year-end assessments, where employees no longer receive a single numeric rating.

"We also did away with that team-based decision-making experience," she added. "It’s really about your personal achievements for the year — it’s not a comparison between you and a different employee."

IBM has introduced digital-learning modules and targeted workshops to help managers improve at giving candid feedback. "We’ve also focused on internal career-mobility coaching and mentoring as part of that growth and performance discussion," she added. 

In the course of changing their feedback model, an internal survey found that 44% of respondents wanted a mentor but didn’t know how to go about finding one. 

"Now everybody’s working from home, we needed to connect them in a digital way," Jordan said. "It uses a variety of different data points as well as personal preferences to recommend mentors through an algorithm."

The tech giant has also introduced a tool that’s increased the amount of written feedback IBM employees receive by around 100% year over year in only a couple of months since it went live. 

The tool, Jordan said, is "underpinning all of our enablement is really driving more meaningful conversations for all of our employees."

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Elle Hardy June 17, 2021 at 11:57PM

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