Year-long Appraisal is Better than Annual Reviews: Here's Why?

Rekha Raj

Rekha Raj - Chief Operating Officer, Quinnox

Appraisal season can be a stressful time for both employees and managers. For many companies, it’s a time to sit down and formally discuss an employee’s performance over the past year. Companies that review employee performance each month perform better financially than those that who does only once a year.
Research from organizational psychologist Adam Grant suggests that this traditional appraisal approach of annual discussions may be ineffective. Grant argues that appraisal should not just be a meeting but an ongoing conversation throughout the year. Appraisal conversations should be effective communication and open dialogue that translates into dynamic strategies delivering stellar results over time. By taking a proactive approach to appraisal conversation planning, leaders at all levels can reach organizational goals while still cultivating strong relationships within their teams.
Below are some rules that I follow as a leader, and I also encourage my directs to follow similar rules for their teams in their appraisal discussions:

Consistent Feedback is Key

When it comes to how often employees want feedback about their performance, one key benefit of this approach is that it creates a culture of continuous improvement. Rather than waiting till the year’s end to discuss performance, I strongly recommend that managers and employees have regular conversations throughout the year to discuss progress and identify areas for improvement. This ongoing feedback can help employees feel more engaged and motivated, knowing their managers are invested in their success.

Moreover, the year-long conversation approach allows for more open and honest communication. In traditional appraisals, employees may be hesitant to share their concerns or challenges, especially if they fear it may negatively impact their performance review. However, when the appraisal is viewed as an ongoing conversation, employees can feel more comfortable sharing their experiences and seeking support from their managers. Employers that give consistent feedback report 14.9% lower employee turnover rates than companies that believe only in annual feedback.

Focus on Constructive Framework

The next in the appraisal discussion is the importance of framing feedback constructively. Rather than simply pointing out areas for improvement, managers should focus on coaching employees to develop their skills and overcome challenges. As a team leader, I have been leveraging this approach to motivate employees more, which has helped provide them with a clear path for growth and development. Frequent and constructive feedback establishes managers as coaches who nurture employees’s strengths and recognize their every contribution, rather than acting as bosses who only assign tasks and micromanage.

Act Like a Coach, not a Boss

Another key element of the year-long conversation approach is the need for regular check-ins. These check-ins can take many forms, from informal one-on-one meetings to more structured coaching sessions. I believe that the key is to create a regular communication cadence so that employees know their capabilities and what they need to do to improve.
Managers must be skilled at giving feedback and coaching to make this approach work. This requires a strong understanding of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses and a willingness to invest time and effort into their development.

Prioritize Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the critical differentiator for business growth and success. Employees who are encouraged and engaged by their managers through the proper mentoring feel motivated and connected to their work and are likely to do better. As a team leader, I have seen that prioritizing employee engagement boosts your relationship with the team and helps encourage employees to do some great work. Engagement affects employee productivity, retention, and motivation.
Therefore, I recommend that all the managers embrace ongoing feedback and coaching to identify areas where the organization can improve as it leads to more effective and efficient operations. Undoubtedly, the year-long conversation approach can benefit not only employees but also managers and the organization as a whole.

Final Thought

Based on the above considerations, we can conclude that traditional appraisals may not be the most effective way to drive employee performance and engagement. At Quinnox, we have been ardent believers that annual reviews are not enough to evaluate and recognize the year-long contribution of our employees in its true sense. 

A year-long conversation approach, based on ongoing feedback and coaching, can be much more
effective at promoting continuous improvement and creating a culture of growth and development.
By investing in this approach, managers can help their employees reach their full potential and build
stronger, more successful organizations.

For me, appraisal discussions should not be at the end of the year. Instead, managers should discuss it with their team members as and when they feel it, as it helps to build that transparent relationship that employees often miss in their organization. I genuinely believe that performance reviews should work to offer employees both praise and constructive criticism to drive continuous progression and employee engagement. Year-long reviews have helped me better engage and connect with my team, resulting in outstanding team achievements and work results.

However, managers alone can’t single-handedly replace traditional practices of annual appraisal discussions with monthly or maybe weekly processes. The culture of continuous appraisal discussions must begin at the top of the corporate ladder, with leaders being promoters and advocates of such progressive thoughts and processes. When leaders are involved, it promotes positivity across all layers of working personnel. Implementing such initiatives leads to tangible improvements in productivity, morale, and job satisfaction, making appraisals worthwhile rather than dreaded hindrances.

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