Is continuous evaluation the best way to do performance management?

'If you're not employee-centric in this exercise, this is a missed opportunity for development'

Is continuous evaluation the best way to do performance management?

For both manager and employee, the yearly assessment exercise can be a time of anxiety and surprises.

But that doesn’t have to be the case, says one expert who advocates a more thoughtful and “intentional” approach to the entire practice.

Continuous performance evaluation is an ongoing series of regular conversations between employee and supervisor. And for HR departments looking to shake up the assessment regime, this might be something to consider.

“The main idea is to be able to do it in a continuous way and it helps to position the manager not as an evaluator or supervisor but much more as a coach during the whole process,” says Marc-André Nataf, CEO North America at Cegid, a cloud business management solutions in Montreal.

Unlike the involved and time-consuming yearly meeting — which is often overly formal and rigid — more informal chats might work better for all parties.

“The definition would be that it’s not just a performance review, it provides an opportunity for the employee to promote the advancement of their goals, to expose where they are in the project in the same time that they are performing and not only as a year-end assessment,” says Nataf.

“It allows the manager to follow up and to provide feedback throughout the year, and when it is most needed by the employer.”

Better relationships

Besides helping the employee know more immediately about the progress being made, relationships with the manager tend to be enhanced by continuous evaluations, according to Nataf.

“It probably develops a richer or maybe more intimate relationship between the manager and the employee because the employee receives direct feedback; they can discuss development opportunities with managers, they can ask for help. And the fact it is on a continuous basis, it generates less anxiety and helps the employee to be more comfortable with sharing with his manager.

“It builds more proximity in the manager-employee relationship, which is key — that’s where you build confidence, that’s where you build team spirit and I think that’s where, eventually, you’ll build engagement within the company because you leave your manager before leaving your company when there is churn,” he says.

And by employing this method, that doesn’t mean the yearly assessment is abandoned, says Nataf but instead its role changes.

“For us, it doesn’t replace it, it actually repositions the yearly assessment as a moment of sharing on the development of the employee, and the continuous conversation as a continuous followup of the actual objectives and key results. And the yearly assessment is more about personal development, the career, how we can go further — much more than an assessment in itself.”

If you as a manager have performance issues, the last thing you want to do is handle it by “quiet firing” that worker, says an employment lawyer.

Not box-checking

For HR, the current method that involves simply checking the box labelled performance management can often become a wasted exercise.

“When you do that, you’re missing the value of the meeting: the value of the meeting should be constructive [and] sharing a real conversation about the future of the employee. You see each other once a year and you tick boxes to be right in the process but you don’t get the value out of it because that’s why probably a lot of colleagues are dissatisfied with evaluations,” says Nataf.

“If you’re not employee-centric in this exercise, this is a missed opportunity for development.”

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