Spring Forward in Your Performance Process


Lisa Sterling
Director, People Engagement
Ultimate Software


A few weeks ago, Cale Hamer wrote a blog post about performance management, identifying the challenges with current processes and the impact on our people.  Earlier this week, Pat Pickren spoke about the promise of spring and the growth that comes with it. Today, I want to focus on bringing them together.

If you pick up any recent article from HBR, Gartner, TowersWatson, etc., there is a consistent theme regarding the need for our organizations to change the way we think about performance management. I have said it time and time again that annual performance reviews can cause dis-engagement, act as a de-motivator and add little to any real value to employees. While many of the organizations we speak to agree, they don’t know where or how to get started.

Well I am here to give you a few pointers to help you jump-start the transformation.  If you really think about it, it’s similar to training for a marathon. You don’t start out running 26+ miles all at once. You begin to make incremental changes to your behavior that will ultimately get you to your desired goal.   

But just as you need a solid training plan to get up to 26+ miles, you have to have a solid strategy outlining your end goal for the performance experience. Before you begin creating your strategy, ask yourself and others involved the following questions:
  • What is the purpose of our performance review process?
  • Who owns the performance experience? Leadership and managers or HR?
  • Who can best provide objective feedback on our employees?
  • How often should we provide feedback to our employees?
  • What do our employees like/dislike about our current process?
  • Does our current process add value to our employee’s experience?
There are many additional questions you will want to ask but this should spring you in the right direction. When all is said and done, people just want to understand how they are doing and more importantly, how they can do better. Simple modifications like providing real-time observations of performance or journaling on goal and competency progress can turn an annual, HR-driven event, into an ongoing, collaborative experience for your people.

Believe me, your people will thank you for focusing on them.