HR Tip of the Week

Posted on  |  Performance management

Three Alternatives to the Traditional Performance Review

Performance reviews can help improve productivity and motivate your employees. They can also help you make informed decisions regarding promotions, training needs, pay increases, and disciplinary actions. Instead of traditional annual performance reviews, some employers are looking for more flexible alternatives for assessing employees' performance. Here are three alternatives to consider:

#1: Regular check-ins

One of the drawbacks of the traditional performance review is that supervisors may wait until the annual review to provide feedback instead of providing regular coaching throughout the year. Regularly scheduled check-ins, such as once per week, can help address this issue. This ongoing communication can help inform supervisors of the real-time status of projects and any challenges the employee may be facing. Regular check-ins also allow supervisors to provide feedback and coaching to employees when issues arise.

#2: Simplified and more frequent assessments

The traditional performance review can be a complex array of competency-based metrics that managers may be unable to accurately assess. For this reason, some employers have moved to a simplified approach by using three or four questions that frame an employee's performance in a more measurable, useful way. They may also conduct these assessments more frequently, such as quarterly. Like with other approaches, the key is to measure the behavior you're seeking to reinforce. For example, if you rate customer service employees heavily based on the length of their calls, the quality of their interactions may decline in order to handle as many calls as possible. Consider which metrics are most important and weigh them appropriately.

#3: 360º feedback

A 360º review elicits anonymous feedback on key performance indicators from a variety of perspectives. During the process, employees complete a self-assessment and receive feedback from others who have a stake in their success, such as subordinates, colleagues, and supervisors. This allows employers to obtain a holistic view of employee performance. Because it's based on multiple perspectives, 360º feedback may also increase the likelihood that employees will improve their performance based on the feedback.

Best Practices:

Regardless of the type of performance feedback system you use, consider the following best practices:

  • Make assessing and improving performance a priority.
  • Choose a system that meets your organization's specific needs.
  • Provide regular feedback to all employees.
  • Acknowledge the positive aspects of each employee's performance, but don't avoid negative feedback. Be clear and straightforward and provide examples of performance issues.
  • Address performance concerns promptly and in private.
  • Make sure the criteria you use for performance assessments are valid, job-related, and applied consistently.
  • Ensure that the feedback and ratings are accurate and don't reflect conscious or unconscious biases.
  • Train managers and others on providing feedback.
  • Hold managers accountable for providing regular performance feedback to employees.
  • Document performance feedback and retain it in the employee's personnel file.
  • Obtain employee acknowledgment of performance feedback.


While measuring performance and providing feedback isn't always easy, it can help you maximize productivity and make decisions about pay, promotion, training, and discipline.

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