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Say Goodbye to Antiquated Performance Reviews

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Have you ever thought about the real intention of annual performance reviews? Presumably, the goal is to provide valuable feedback to support employees in their professional growth and accomplishing organizational goals. But is the value truly there if this feedback comes months too late?

Companies across industries are shifting away from performance reviews and replacing them with real-time feedback and coaching. Adobe was one early adopter of this trend, citing that performance reviews were ineffective and time consuming. A few years later, PwC followed suit, focusing on equipping managers with the skills necessary to provide concurrent feedback. Block CEO Jack Dorsey made a similar decision at the end of 2023.

As more companies and organizations pivot to this new approach and it gains acceptance as the new normal, HR and business leaders are left to decipher how to best support their talent without the former systems they long relied on.

The key to adapting begins even before an employee starts their journey with the company. Implementing strong hiring practices, establishing everboarding, and institutionalizing ongoing feedback and professional development mitigates the need for annual reviews and provides an improved support system to drive individual and team growth. Let’s explore how company leaders can shift from legacy systems of annual checkpoints to proactive, intentional, and consistent support.

How a Strong Start Sets Up Employees for Persistent Success

Leaders wishing to move away from performance reviews must first examine their hiring practices. Are job descriptions accurate and aligned with the real-world experiences of others in these roles? Are the right questions asked during the interview process? Do realistic goals foster realistic expectations upon hire?

If the answer to these questions is anything less than a resounding “yes,” improving hiring practices is an important and necessary step. When looking to fill a position, it’s normal to want to expedite the process, but rushing through a hiring decision can cause more harm than good. Leaders must prioritize bringing in the right person for the right role with the right set of skills over hiring speed.


Improving hiring practices involves practical approaches. This may entail refining job descriptions for clarity, advertising on specialized job boards, curating interview questions, and realigning internal processes to not only introduce new employees to the organization but also position new team members for success in their roles.

Get On Board With “Everboarding”

Most leaders understand the value of investing in an onboarding process for orientation, productivity, and retention, but few associate onboarding with strong performance over the employee’s full tenure with the organization. By contrast, everboarding is a newer approach that prioritizes ongoing learning and development rather than only an initial commitment. Insights from Deloitte indicate organizations that establish an ongoing learning culture are 52 percent more productive with engagement and achieve retention rates 30–50 percent higher than those that don’t.

When implemented effectively, everboarding embraces proven elements of a coaching culture that establish an ongoing commitment to skill development, deepens understanding of the organization, and supports real-time feedback to prevent stagnancy in high-potential employees brought in through strong hiring practices.


Prioritize Professional Development

Performance reviews aim to provide feedback to an employee on areas of success and improvement. They often provide little to no actual guidance, however, on actions the employee can take to upskill in response. According to a recent US Chamber of Commerce report, the talent pool most often overlooked is current staff. Investing in existing employees not only supports individual growth the way performance reviews strive to, but also improves the likelihood of employees performing well in the jobs most needed by the business now and in the future. A large majority of business and HR leaders (73 percent) agree. Chamber of Commerce data indicates that while organizations are responsible for reskilling and upskilling their workforce, 68 percent of workers are willing to upskill to better perform in their roles. This data indicates the desire for real-time feedback and professional development opportunities that allow employees to harness and improve their skills.

Realistic and meaningful goals are great motivators for employees. Their managers must learn skills to help establish them and then support the employees in accomplishing them. The leaders using a coaching approach in their management will better understand how to engage in goal setting and best contribute to employee success. The employees, especially those who are younger and newer to the workforce, with the help of a professional coach, can map the road to accomplishing their goals clearly and consistently. After all, organizations with strong coaching cultures enjoy much greater employee engagement and satisfaction, along with better financial results.

Leaders Must Update the Employee Feedback Toolkit With Real-Time Practices

The data is clear: Annual performance reviews are a thing of the past. The workplace is rapidly advancing and so must the practices used to support enhanced performance. There are proven processes that redefine how feedback is given and received.

Rather than giving managers and employees just one chance each year to address successes and areas for improvement, engage leaders and teams with the skills needed to support consistent growth. Frequent and clear feedback is a must. The feedback must also be delivered engagingly and make employees part of the ongoing solution and progress. With a coaching approach, being supportive, forward-thinking, and timely in discussions with your teams will achieve better outcomes than the outdated practice of annual reviews.

About the Author

Magdalena Nowicka Mook offers her vision and strategic direction as the CEO and executive director of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), where she acts as a partner to the ICF’s Global Board of Directors. Mook has also held positions with the Council of State Governments, where she was the assistant director of National Policy and Director of Development. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service has also utilized Mook’s international business acumen, bringing her in for coordinating technical assistance programs and implementing special projects in four European countries. Mook is a trained professional coach and systems’ facilitator.

She is a frequent speaker on subjects of trends in coaching and leadership development as well as regulation and ethics. In 2019, she was a finalist of Thinkers50 Coaching and Mentoring Marshall Goldsmith Distinguished Award and received Marshall Goldsmith #1 Coach Global Influencer Award.

Mook received her Master in Science in economics and international trade from the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland. She also graduated from the Copenhagen Business School’s Advanced Program in International Management and Consulting. She is a member of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, Council on Nonprofits, and Association for Talent Development and serves at the International Section Council of ASAE.

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100%. This approach would benefit most organizations far more than the current annual performance review approach, which is frequently quite costly and sets up adversarial relationships based on a yearly transaction rather than developing authentic relationships that benefit the employee, the manager, and the organization. We don't wait until the end of each year to evaluate our products and services. And we shouldn't do that with our most valuable asset -our people.
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The actual takeaway is really that shortcuts in your processes will show up elsewhere along the line; time & intention well spent at the beginning with recruitment, etc will reap benefits throughout. I recall this discussion about dropping performance reviews & ratings gaining traction 7 or 8 years ago, and many orgs that raced to drop their 'time-consuming' reviews quickly discovered that it was not a panacea at all. Yes to more coaching... and note that review is not mutually exclusive
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