The failings of traditional performance review techniques have been discussed at length in recent years, with most people in agreement that they no longer have the desired effect. Employees and employers alike are finding that age old practices fail to give real insight into employee performance and lack any real value.
The traditional performance review does not capitalise on the business processes of today. While some believe the practice should be made redundant, this does not need to be the case. Rather, it needs to be re-imagined and should include strategies that reflect modern business and employee needs.
An approach that has a profound effect on employee performance is social recognition, which provides bottom-up, peer-to-peer feedback. At its simplest level, social recognition democratises performance management by giving everyone the ability to recognise and be recognised by their colleagues, and harnesses the "wisdom of crowds" by collecting the opinions of many to gain a deeper and better-rounded understanding.
Business practices of today differ to those in the past, but the performance review process has not been adapted to reflect these changes. Traditional performance management techniques involve judging performance on goals and targets as defined in an employee’s job description. However, in today’s organisations, roles are less rigid and employees take on activities that are outside of their prescribed remit, yet these "extra" activities are not always taken into account when it comes to reviewing performance.
Historically, employee appraisals take place annually (or occasionally every six months). By the time they come around, much of the good and bad work has been forgotten and it is the last few weeks or months that are focused on. Furthermore, the traditional method is limited by a "single point of failure", whereby the employee is assessed by one manager and the review is conducted by that same manager. This means that the process can be restricted to the bias of that individual, whether positive or negative. Unless the manager can be truly impartial, the review can often be at odds to the opinions of others.
While traditional performance appraisals as a stand-alone process are failing to have the required effect, when combined with crowd-sourced feedback their worth can be greatly elevated. The feedback received fr