I started reading Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson. I haven't gotten very far but since much of the introduction dealt with the "stacked" performance review system she brought from Google to Yahoo, it got me thinking about reviews in general.
What is the purpose of a review? Traditionally they're meant to discuss how the person is performing, whether there are any areas that need improvement, where they personally want to grow, and any raises/promotions on the table. Although the "annual" review may still be necessary to formalize raises and promotions, if the goal is to have high performing and engaged employees, performance reviews should be ongoing. The annual part can be a paper signed by all parties.
I'm a big believer in weekly one-on-ones with each of my direct reports. I've given them the option to cancel them if they had nothing to discuss, but it's on our calendars. What better time to discuss what's working and what's not?
One of my favorite business books is The One-Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. It's short, quick and a must read for anyone who manages staff. One of the principles of the book is that feedback, whether good or bad, should be timely since the longer you wait to give it, the less effective it is.
So if you're meeting with your staff weekly and providing feedback as soon as you can, there is no need for a formal annual review process. Goals can be documented and reviewed on a quarterly basis during the one-on-ones and even improvement plans can be tracked during this time.
And having the performance review be part of your regular interaction with your staff means that not only is it more timely and effective, but that it's about that individual and not a bell curve or any other "stacked" system.
What was the best review you ever got and what made it so effective?