Date: Friday, April 26, 2024

Time: 1:00 pm Eastern / 10:00 am Pacific


Christian Nielson, Chief Revenue Officer; Matthew Wride, President

Are you ready to ditch the outdated performance review process? Performance reviews are making a comeback, and HR professionals like you are on the front lines of making them effective.


Matt Wride | 00:00

Okay, well, it looks like we’re at the top of the hour. Um, so as we sit down and think about topics of interest, um, we try to, we try to do ones that are in our wheelhouse of what we do here at decision wise. And performance reviews is actually something we, we offer and we care about. And, but maybe a lot, maybe our clients and others don’t know that. Um, but we won’t try to make this a commercial or a, an ad. We’re gonna try to talk about some why performance reviews are making a comeback and some best practices to think about. And then what are your options as you, you, as you deal with it, um, you know, standing up a performance review process. How do you, how, what are some best practices to consider? That’s sort of our goal. Um, our agenda, of course, is here, laid out for you. Um, we introduced ourself just briefly when we started, but again, my name’s Matt Ride and, um, I oversee the day-to-day Operations here at decision Wise, we’re a HR technology firm, um, that offers services and support. So for listening solutions, employee feedback, um, lifecycle surveys 360 and performance reviews, multi-rater performance reviews along with your core, uh, organizational surveys. Um, so that’s a little bit about what we do. Um, Christian, you want to kind of give your just a little bit about yourself?

Christian Nielson | 01:24

Yeah. I’m, uh, part of the leadership team, but my, my roots at decision wise are on the consulting and the organizational development side. Um, so always love to be part of these conversations and excited to talk about performance reviews today.

Matt Wride | 01:38

Yeah, this, this, uh, will qualify for continuing ed requirements for Sherman HRCI and those, that information is sent out after the webinar. Uh, we’ll also, I think we’ll have request for the slides this time, and so we’ll send out the slide deck in PDF form. Uh, for those that kind of want to capture probably the last four or five slides that have a checklist of things to consider, we’ll send those out as well. Um, so why this topic now? Why, why are we talking about performance reviews? Well, they are making a comeback, and we’re going to, we’re gonna kind of go over the history of, of them a little bit and, and why they are back in the press and also at the top of leader’s minds. Um, but that’s, that’s what we’re, we’re, uh, what, what kind of caused us to think about why this webinar might be meaningful and might be timely and topical. Um, it, it sort of leads me to this classic dilberg, um, . So he says, I’m having a recovered memory of ritual abuse. Oh, uh, you ha can you guys see it?

Christian Nielson | 02:49

Oh, I’m gonna advance the slide there, Matt. Sorry. We were, we were still on the first slide there.

Matt Wride | 02:54

Still on the first slide. It wasn’t advancing. Okay. All right. There it is. So, here’s our Dilbert for the day. I’m having a recovered memory of ritual abuse. Um, you had your annual performance review this morning, then with the look of fear, do the memories ever fade? And he says it takes about 12 months. So, uh, that’s, that, uh, captures I think a lot of, uh, sentiment that, that employees, managers, HR leaders, everyone sort of has this collective sigh when we talk about performance reviews, they’re not well received and they’re, they, they’re kind of universally hated. Um, what is a performance review? Did that slide advance Christian?

Christian Nielson | 03:42

No, for, for whatever reason, it doesn’t if, uh, I’m advancing it in teams. And

Matt Wride | 03:49

So, okay, so I have, what is a performance review? Performance appraisal is the managerial evaluation of an employee’s performance, often on a regular cadence, um, in which the evaluator assesses the extent to which certain desired behaviors and outcomes have been observed or achieved. Right? In most organizations, this evaluative process is organized and conducted through a process known as the performance review. Um, so that’s, that’s the technical definition. We are trying to evaluate, um, whether, uh, employees are meeting certain standards of performance. We’re trying to get a sense of are they making the grade that is different than other forms of feedback. Um, coaching, mentoring, uh, you know, career pathing, those type of things are related to, but performance reviews have a specific goal, and it’s not just to create a ranking, but it’s, it’s basically to say, are you doing the job the way we imagined and need you to do?

Matt Wride | 04:54

So, um, so I have a question up on the screen, yes or no. Um, if you’ll just put into the chat, how many of your organizations conduct a formal performance review process, meaning classically sitting down, running a process and, and, and doing the performance review? So I’m seeing lots of yeses. I’m curious if anybody, if there’s any nos out there, . Um, okay. So you, all right. It’s filling up. It’s filling up. Okay. We’re gonna go to the next question. Got a one? No, and that, that’s okay. Like if there’s a no, there’s usually a reason. Um, but let’s go to the next question. So I want you to put a, between a one, a 2, 3, 4 or five into the chat, how effective you, you perceive the, your performance review process to be. So it’s not effective, all or slightly effective. Threes are kind of the middle ground fives, they’re very effective.

Matt Wride | 05:54

I’m just kind of, I want to get a feel for what you all think about your process. Mainly threes, which statistically speaking should be what we expect, but, uh, I see some fives. I’m really, I’m, and I’m, I’m enthused. I don’t, we don’t come here to sort of talk about how these, how this can’t work or to be, um, to have anything but optimism that performance reviews have a place in organizations, but few fours, some twos certainly, and some ones. Okay. Last I just curious about this. On a scale of one to five, how many, um, this is from the perspective of your employees, do they despise it or do they love and appreciate it, you know, where, where are they at in this process? Lots of twos. Okay. Got a three, got a four, some, but, uh, two to three . Yeah, some ones.

Matt Wride | 06:48

Okay. So this is pretty consistent with I think a lot of people’s experience. I think we recognize the need for performance reviews. We understand their, their purpose, but we know they can get better. And we’ve tried to make them better. And there’s been a history of some of those attempts. Um, so what happened in 2012, Adobe, maybe the leading organization in this area, they said, we’re gonna, we’re gonna get rid of performance reviews, and we’re going to, uh, we’re gonna create this thing called a check-in, and the minute they did this, this is what we saw across the collective social media landscape. There was so much rejoicing, , uh, performance reviews are dead. Uh, and, and there was, and everybody sort of rushed out to write an article about why it’s, it’s right that performance reviews are, are, um, are, are going the way of the dodo. Everybody’s thrilled.

Christian Nielson | 08:05

I’m not. Yeah. Just gimme a thumbs up. Can, can everyone hear Matt? Here’s audio cut out for me. Yeah. Can you hear me okay? You can hear me. Matt, your audio is, is out there for just a, a slide. Apologies. Yes. Me not Matt. Okay. Matt will let you play with settings there for one minute, but I can, I can speak to,

Matt Wride | 08:39

Oh, so for whatever reason, my microphone wasn’t working. So can you hear me now? Okay. We did the, the, we did the, the Verizon thing. Can you hear me now? Okay, so now, just recently, this was front page of the Wall Street Journal. The dreaded performance review makes a comeback. Okay. So what’s this all about? I thought performance reviews needed to die. Why are dreaded performance, why, why would the dreaded performance review be making a comeback? What, what is happening here? And if you have ideas or thoughts, throw them into the chat. Um, what I can tell you as a personal example, I was here in Salt Lake City meeting with, in a conference and speaking to us was the CHRO of a large regional bank. Um, so they have a lot of employees, everything from tellers to, to, you know, IT professionals, you know, they have a lot of employees. This is a large organization. And, um, they, uh, the, um, what happened is they decided to go within a check-in style performance for you. So they said, during your one-on-one conversations, we want you to hold a performance review. And so they got feedback from the managers, and 80% or more of the managers said, yes, we held our performance reviews. And then to, to test that, they asked, in their annual survey, they asked employees, did you have a performance review discussion with your, um, manager? Anybody? Guess what, the an what, what, what happened?

Matt Wride | 10:20

Um, less than 30% said Agreed that they had, had, we’re having a lot of technical problems, aren’t they? I’m getting people who can’t see, who can’t care. You know, I think, I think we’re, I think we’re good now, Matt. Um, I think we’re good. Okay. All right. So anyway, they, 30% of the employees, or less than 30% of the employees said, Hey, yeah, we had it. So what, what happened? Were managers just lying? No, it goes to this point, um, that you need that performance reviews, having evaluative discussions is not something we’re good at, and it’s not something that’ll just come up, come out in a checkin. Okay? I don’t think the managers were lying. I think they tried to have a performance review style discussions, maybe more than one, but they tried, but it didn’t come across that way to the, to the, to the employees.

Matt Wride | 11:16

Um, and so, um, anyway, the, the, the challenge is we need to set a system and a, and a framework to make sure that we can have these discussions. So when organizations stop conducting regular performance reviews, employees are left adrift, and organizations and managers lose a valuable mandated framework for discussing the thornier issues of employee performance. We know this. Employees tell us they want to know if they are succeeding, they want meaningful fight feedback. And when you don’t have a formal process, it can get lost. Yeah. So what we’ve gotta do is figure out a way to do both to, to have check-ins and one-on-one conversations that are meaningful. But we need to have a framework that acts as a backstop to ensure that these type of discussions are having, are happening. I still am seeing in the chat, uh, sound issues. Christian,

Christian Nielson | 12:13

I, I think one person was having some, and, uh, and, and I don’t think, I don’t think we have any others. Send us a note if there’s, if there’s others, but I think there’s just a, a single issue there. Alright. But Matt, I, I think just to kind of drive the, the point home, it was, I mean, performance reviews, it was, it’s not always easy to get it right. And it’s, it was very, very tempting to, to say, Hey, let’s get rid of it completely. But the reasons we had them didn’t go away when, when, when we voted it off the island for a short period when, when some war experimented without it, and very quickly we realized, I mean, this statement says it all, that left a drift. Um, we, we were missing the valuable reason we had, or we were missing the valuable input, even if they were done imperfectly. People need some sense of, of where they stand. We need intel to be able to make better decisions and, and, and so they quick, we quickly came back to it.

Matt Wride | 13:11

Yeah. What’s your favorite, what are your favorite quotes? You say all the time before you tear down a fence?

Christian Nielson | 13:17

Yeah, yeah. Don’t tear down a fence until, you know, why, why it’s there and, and, you know, performance reviews, it’s, yeah. Just because it was, it’s uncomfortable. It’s a lot of work, or it has been, if in, in different situations, it’s tempting to say, well, let’s get rid of it. We don’t like doing it, but it’s, there’s a real need to have ’em.

Matt Wride | 13:36

And that’s really what we’re trying to, uh, advocate for is let’s have, let’s continue to support regular check-ins. Let’s continue to support meaningful one-on-ones and performance management discussions throughout the year. But we need to ensure that there’s a formal process. And so I think that we we’re trying to understand alignment and accomplishment. Alignment in my view, can be done through these check-ins. Like, are, are you aligned to the culture? Are you, are you aligned with our team? Those type of things I think can happen on a one-on-one, but when you try to measure accomplishment, the extent to which those individual’s personal efforts are contributing towards team and organizational success, that’s probably needs to be done within a framework. A framework that says, yes, we’re gonna, we’re going to take time and really assess that element. Are you, are you, are you contributing in a meaningful way that meeting expectations notion that was so, um, wealth well known and, and, and was out there in the mid two thousands?

Matt Wride | 14:39

Yeah. It, it sort of needs to make a bit of a comeback. Okay. So this is a personal story. Um, this conference room, uh, is exactly how my first performance review went down when I started my career at Deloitte. Um, I, all of a sudden there was some rum rumblings in the cubicles, and we watched managers and senior managers and others go into a conference room. It wasn’t nearly as diverse as this photo, but they walked into a conference room and they gave out a score. , we all got a score. And I like literally think I had the score handed to me on a post-it note, like, that’s my memory . And, and at the end of the day, it was frustrating. Like, that’s not a great experience. Like, it was kind of like, and we’re all, and no work was getting done. We’re all out there and talking to each other and trying to figure out what’s happening and, and, and all sorts of stuff.

Matt Wride | 15:32

And that was my performance review. But at the end of the day, there were a couple things that were still important to me. I had a sense probably what my raise was gonna be. I also had a sense if I needed to go look for a new job. And so even though I didn’t love the process, there was really important information that was sent to me. Now, it wasn’t packaged or delivered very well. I, I agree with that, and I didn’t have any help in figuring out how I can improve off the score I was given. Okay. I wasn’t given any help, but I did get some information that was important to me that, okay, I’m not completely failing here. I, I I have a future. I don’t need to go look for a job. Christian, what was your first performance review like?

Christian Nielson | 16:15

Yeah, you know, Matt and I both did, did our time at, uh, different, uh, firms of the Big four. And I, I had a very similar experience when I was in the, in, in the, uh, advisory services of one of the big four where it was a, a group of of people came into a room. I wasn’t there. I had someone who spoke on my behalf and, and kind of pleaded my case, but it was kind of a black box mystery to me that, okay, that folks are going to go in and talk about my year. I had some input and prepped some things, but I, you know, it came out and I, I got some understanding of, of how I, I, uh, ranked according to them or compared to my peers. I got a, a performance review. I knew where I stood with the firm, but again, it was a lot of anxiety, some questions about the, the, the fairness and transparency of the, of the process.

Christian Nielson | 17:08

And it was really, I just felt like they came out and, and stamped me with a number, . And, and, uh, there was very little clarity around where that came from and, and, and some of that justification. So there was some, it was better than nothing. Um, but there was, I remember the, the firm basically, uh, for the six weeks leading up to it, it was such a big event that everyone was anxious. We put a lot of work into, you know, preparing some, some of that input, but, uh, ultimately came down to a mysterious meeting in a room and a, and a number that came out on the other side.

Matt Wride | 17:43

I had a comment that I really am glad someone sh this person said, we just eliminated our annual performance reviews and replace them with quarterly goals and frequent check-ins. I may be in the wrong webinar. No, we’re not in any way advocating that you don’t run that. But what we are saying is that programs that are built and rely on managers to, to do the evaluative part of the performance review without some structure and without some things beyond just, Hey, have a discussion. It, it may not be enough. You may need to think about how do we ensure that there, there is an evaluative element at the end of the day, at least coming out of those, those quarterly check-ins. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, you have to have a framework and you have to have a framework for difficult conversations. Are you meeting the grade?

Matt Wride | 18:32

And, uh, human nature, I, as we’ve said many times on webinars like this, the lowest scoring competency in three sixties is the manager takes timely action to correct poor performance. Yep. We’re not good at generally speaking, telling other people that they’re failing or that they, where they need to improve. We’re not, we don’t have a lot of, and so we think that we can make it better by saying, Hey, let’s have frequent check-ins, but unless there’s clear expectations set and we have some sort of evaluative mechanism that can just kind of fall through the cracks. Anything else, Christian, before we move on?

Christian Nielson | 19:09

No, I, I, I think that’s, I think you nailed it. It, in, in those feedback moments, OO obviously we, we wanna set up an environment that no one’s surprised by their performance review, or it doesn’t come as a completely a complete shock. And so the periodic feedback, but without a structured process in these, these predetermined time, whether they’re quarterly, annually or whatever cadence, um, where people know, Hey, this type of conversation needs to happen. Here’s the structure, here’s the input. It just doesn’t happen.

Matt Wride | 19:40

Well, yeah, Stacy said they need to be forward looking, not backward looking. That’s true. Much of what we do needs to have a forward-looking element, but organizations have come to us saying, but we still wanna know, how did that employee perform over the last, uh, cycle, six months or 12 months? There’s, it’s a blend in our view, and what we’re hearing from our clients is it’s a blend. It’s a blend of, because what’s the best indicator of future performance, past performance, right? So when we have a, when we have a, a, an eye, uh, some view into that, we’re able to sort of also then shape the future. So it’s both, it’s a not an either or pro, uh, proposition. It’s not a binary choice up here on the screen. Just some needs that employees have from the process. These are things that didn’t happen for me.

Matt Wride | 20:30

Um, guidance on career development and professional growth, um, personal development through skills and competencies. No one sat down with me, uh, and said, these are the behaviors we expect of you. These are the skills that really matter. Um, clear expectations. And, um, the, the, the second to the last bullet point, an obvious sense of what it means to succeed in their role. Uh, I wanna unpack that a little obvious is, is important. We, uh, managers and leaders assume way too much that we’ve communicated, uh, our expectations. If the, I, I have this rule of three, you need to have tried at least three times to make it clear. And if you haven’t done it at least three times, you’re not, you’re probably not, you’ve not done it enough. And it could be, well, it could be well more than three times, but you need to have an obvious sense of what it means to succeed in the role.

Matt Wride | 21:23

And part of a manager’s role is to describe that, and to be able to articulate to a new employee and to a, an employee that wants to improve or wherever they’re at in their journey, what does it look like to succeed in their role? And then finally, it needs to be a fair and objective process to the extent it can be. We’re dealing with humans. There isn’t a perfect scientific test that can be admin administered, is we need to have some fair, we need to put infuse is the word. I think I was looking for as much objectivity and fairness into the process as we can. Any thoughts, Chris, before I go?

Christian Nielson | 22:04

Yeah, I’m just, I’m just looking at some of the, the, just the comments in the chat, and I think it’s really interesting, uh, especially the areas. Most cases reviews are positive and sometimes kind of hurt in legal proceeding. That brings to mind that a lot of performance reviews, uh, you know, people don’t want to, to deliver tough news even in a performance review. So a manager gives everyone, you know, fairly high, they always skew high. Everyone somehow is above average, uh, which is a, a, a challenge to the word average. Um, and, and then what a lot of organizations find is then suddenly someone says, Hey, we need to get rid of this person. Well, your performance review was pretty raving for this person when, you know, two months ago, and now you’re asking, uh, for, for some discipline or for someone to, to be exited from the organization. We don’t have the, the support legally. And, and from a human being standpoint, uh, you know, we haven’t communicated that they were underperforming. And so a lot of traditional performance reviews really struggle that we, they, they skew high or they skew above average for, for folks, and they don’t really support some of those difficult conversations down the road.

Matt Wride | 23:11

Yeah, great point. When we, when we look at what, uh, to design a performance review process, one thing that I think we skip over is this slide that’s on the screen right now. What does the manager need out of it? I think we spend a lot of time thinking about what the organization needs and what the employee needs, but what does the manager need? And the managers have to, they have to make decisions as far as bonuses goes about compensation and raises. Um, they, they need a process that helps them do that. And we just think that we can support our managers and we can help them by creating a process that helps them have some of these hard discussions. The, it’s not easy, as we’ve said. And so thinking about manager needs needs to be part of this entire process as you develop your performance review system.

Matt Wride | 24:04

Um, and then just finally, organization needs, right? Well, this is, look, there’s a lot of things we wanna know. We wanna know who’s succeeding. We wanna know who our high performers are. We wanna know, but we can use this information to feed back to learning and development teams. We can use this information to inform our hiring options. We can use this to support, uh, legal and compliance. So there are, getting down kind of getting these three sort of stakeholders and then figuring out each of their needs is a good starting point when you start to develop your own performance review process, thinking about their each needs and perspectives, and then balancing those. Um, yeah, uh, there was a another comment just now that that popped up in the chat about the need for calibration meetings. And we’re gonna, we’re gonna talk about how we try to solve calibration here, decision-wise, but either way, you do have to have some form of calibration so that we are it, that we have a consistent understanding of what meets expectations means across the organization.

Matt Wride | 25:10

One of the challenges, I also think with, with moving performance reviews entirely to a check-in model, not, I, I wanna, again, advocate for a check-in model, but moving it to entirely is then you get every, every check-in is kind of its own idea as to what meets expectations. And, and we begin to have performance reviews that aren’t consistent across the organization. They’re more or less just kind of what each manager sort of wants it to be, or is informed by prior experience. And so we don’t have that consistency that helps us calibrate and also create, um, consistency, which is needed from a legal perspective. We’re gonna talk about that here right now, actually. So as you think about, I just want, we wanted to take a moment and touch upon, um, legal issues as they relate to performance reviews. One is you need biases that are related to the job criteria, and they cannot focus on race, gender, age, religion, disability.

Matt Wride | 26:08

We need to make sure that we do not have a disparate impact. So, um, it’s important that you, you don’t rely solely on a performance review when making employment based decisions, because unless you’re very, very sure that your process does not have a disparate impact, and that is hard to prove, it’s hard to have enough data to, to do the statistical measures needed to ensure that you don’t have a disparate impact on upon a protected class. Um, you wanna promote transparency and fairness. One of the things we’re gonna advocate is publish your performance review upfront. Don’t, don’t make it hidden. Let people know the standards to which they are going to be held accountable, be open and transparent. Um, use a consistent evaluative instrument. Um, that’s why having some instrument that informs these check-ins is a good idea because now you’re trying to create consistency across the different departments, across the different functions.

Matt Wride | 27:12

Um, you want, you have to make sure you comply with employment laws, which means know your, know your own jurisdiction, whether employees have rights to see the performance review, whether there’s privacy or confidentiality concerns, um, collection and storage. You need to understand what your jurisdiction requires as it comes to safeguarding information and respecting the rights of the privacy rights of employees. Um, it’s a good idea, regardless if it’s required by a jurisdiction, not that you have a way for employees to respond, have some sort of procedural justice, not just substantive justice, but a way for someone to sort of appeal or think about maybe ways they could raise concerns if they didn’t feel that the process was fully fair. Now, I don’t want to create something so complicated that it, that the process, the appeals process overwhelms the system, but maybe there is a way for someone, if they feel like they need to raise a concern, we’ve at least said, take your concerns to this person, or something along those lines, some element of procedural fairness, and then finally, maintain clear and accurate documentation. Um, it it, like it or not, uh, HR has a hard job. They have to straddle a world of compliance, and they have to straddle a world of leadership development and pro employee, um, and, and advocating for employees. So on one hand, they, they, they wanna advocate for employees, and on the other hand, they want to, um, they want to, um, protect the organization. And so understanding that tension that’s always there means that you probably need more documentation than you think you do. Um, was there a question? Yeah,

Christian Nielson | 29:03

Good, good question From the group, uh, a question about consistency. You may have, uh, you may want to have different competencies for different, uh, jobs. Any thoughts on that?

Matt Wride | 29:13

Right. And that’s why we promote a competency framework where you can have a few different competencies per job, but then you might have some core competencies that are consistent across functions. So maybe five or six competencies stay the same because they’re related to core, uh, organizational culture and, and objectives of the entire organization. But then you can feather in some, um, role specific competencies. Yeah, question about a nine box is a scorecard. Um, it can be used as a scorecard, and it should never be used as a, to make an employment based decision. Um, it’s a, I think of a nine box as a way of categorizing results. I don’t think it’s a scorecard. I think it’s a way of categorizing results. I don’t know if you have a, a response to that question about the nine box.

Christian Nielson | 30:00

No, I mean, the nine box certainly is, I kind of think that was a, a, a question for another member of the chat there, a around, um, who mentioned scorecards there, but, yeah. Yeah. And Nine Box is a really great way to look at the landscape, and that’s also where calibration’s important are, you know, are we consistent and how we’re talking about, uh, performance and potential across different teams, departments, that type of thing. And we, we’ve seen inconsistent approaches with nine boxes in the past, but it’s a, it’s a really powerful and, and u and useful tool to view it. But, um, I think as we get further into this, it becomes better if you’re including more voices in, in that nine box, uh, conversation.

Matt Wride | 30:42

Um, okay, this slide has a lot. We’re not gonna cover all of these. I put up there almost all of the methods that I’ve been able to research over the last several years about ways people do at least a component of the performance review process. And they all have pros and cons. I will tell you the one outlining in Goal Gold, what we call a 360 performance review, I think ticks the most boxes. It has more features that tend to align with what’s needed, both organizationally and as it relates to what managers and employees need. And so, I don’t, I don’t think it’s the sole aspect of a performance review process. I think all of these have to be there. Like, you need to have elements of narrative, self, self narratives, and manager narratives that come kind of in an essay format. Not long, but you need that.

Matt Wride | 31:32

You need, you need to kind of pull, try to pick and choose from the best of these methods. But if you, if you’re looking at the one that sort of does the most, the, the, the Swiss Army tool of, of performance reviews, based on my research and everything we’ve looked at, it’s a, it’s a 360 performance review where we blend elements of a 360, but we, we changed the instrument and its focus to have an evaluative component. That’s what we mean by a 360 performance fee. So it’s not just like a typical 360 that you throw out there to help a leader get better or to encourage development or self-awareness. It, but it’s, it’s using some of the things that work well from a multi-rater concept.

Christian Nielson | 32:14

Well, and I think, I think a big part of that, you know, and I, I love that you singled out those three groups earlier, that the employee, the manager in the organization, you know, as I’m looking at this list, I’m thinking about what experience are we creating for each of those groups and, and especially the employee. And one thing we’ve heard consistently is a desire for more transparency and fairness. And a 360 really brings in more voices and increases that perception of this is, this is fair. It’s not just one person deciding my fate in a, in a kind of a, a singular moment.

Matt Wride | 32:48

And, and there are good reasons why 360 haven’t been used. They, if you’re doing ’em by paper or you’re doing them by collecting responses, they are a nightmare logistically. And I, as an, if I were an HR leader, uh, in charge of designing or implementing the process, I would’ve probably stayed away from them in the past. But software has, uh, changed that. Yeah, we can manage the collection of responses now in ways that we didn’t before. And so we can benefit for, by, by reimagining the, the 360 performance review, knowing that it’s not as difficult as it once was. Okay. All right. Here’s a text heavy slide that I, I mentioned would be some of the things I, maybe when you, when you get a copy of the slides, you can tuck away in your file or for future references, you think about designing your own process.

Matt Wride | 33:40

First of all, objective evaluation. These are the criteria I have developed for a successful performance review product. And, and I’m, again, focusing more on the, on the aspect of proper evaluation that’s legally defensible, that helps employees know whether they’re succeeding it all. Of course, it all has to have that, that coaching and mentoring layered on top of it. Um, but, uh, it’s, it’s, they should be aimed to provide an objective, uh, assessment. And we should, if we can layer in KPIs and as, as, and where possible, we need to get as much, uh, voices from different people or perspectives that are shared by different people that surround the person being evaluated, um, we needed to provide sufficient feedback that you can do something with it. If you think back to my story, my first performance review, all I got was a number. That’s the only thing I got.

Matt Wride | 34:34

Now, I knew what that number meant, but that’s all I got. I didn’t get anything else. I didn’t get a, I didn’t get a conversation about, Hey, we need more from you here, but by the way, this is where you shine and we wanna look for ways to help you do more of that. None of that. I just got a number, as I said, and I’m pretty sure it was on a post-it note, uh, goal setting. Absolutely. We need a way to promote goal setting, and this is where the check-ins can take on, take over and start to run with some of the information that we draw out during the performance review process. Um, two-way communication. Uh, we don’t wanna, again, just deliver a number a score. Uh, we don’t want to throw a, a, a report on someone’s desk if, if we do generate a report as part of the process, it needs to be debriefed by the manager. The manager needs to spend, send, uh, spend, excuse me, significant time walking through what the report looks like. Christian, you wanna talk about kind of how we do performance, performance reviews here, uh, decision-wise? Yeah,

Christian Nielson | 35:39

I was, I was about to, to mention that we’re, we’ve just, we’re in the process right now. We’ve all gone through a multi-rater or a 360 performance review. Our entire company managers have just received the reports. And we’re in the process of having those, those two way conversations. So it’s, it’s really powerful for me as a manager and also as an employee, because I’ll get to meet with my manager and walk, walk through my report, but it’s not just my manager’s voice in there. They’re in there helping steer the conversation. They’re one of those raiders in that, that conversation. But we’ve got other voices in there that, that help, uh, determine my performance review. And there’s enough of that, um, enough meat in the report that I, I have some guidance on, okay, here’s where I can improve, or here’s the strengths that really served me this this last year.

Christian Nielson | 36:28

Here are things that people appreciated. Here’s where I’ve got some, some gaps to close. Uh, but we’re in the process of having those two-way conversations. So I’ll be meeting with my manager, whose name is Matt, and I’ll also be meeting with, uh, the folks who report to me and having those similar conversations. And, and as a manager, I’m also really happy ’cause it’s not just my voice in there. I, I’ve got more support for the, the development opportunities. I’ve also got more support for the strengths that I’ll be, I’ll be celebrating those moments. And so, uh, those conversations are, are happening in the next couple weeks here.

Matt Wride | 37:03

Right. Okay. To round out our list. Thanks, Christian. Documentation. The nice thing about having a system that collects feedback and assembles it as you’re creating documentation and, you know, hopefully by having more raters, we’re beginning to sort of level out and we don’t have the rosy, uh, outlook and we don’t have the negative sort of dark outlook, but we find the middle ground recognition. Boy, we have got to acknowledge and celebrate achievements during the performance review. Uh, thank yous, uh, attaboy shout outs, uh, involve, think about creative ways to take, if you have, for example, a platform that you use for employee recognition, think about how you can in involve that process and that platform into the performance review process and then follow up and accountability. They have to have, uh, there has to be an element of accountability or why do we do it at all?

Matt Wride | 38:01

So, um, regular check-ins are absolutely necessary tracking the larger issues, but we’re kind of grounding it in this formal process, and then we’re adding to it with the check-ins. Okay. Um, other best practices, so, oh, this is small, just performance is non-linear. We, and these are things we’ve gotta teach managers. We wanna, we wanna understand these issues so that we can, to the extent necessary, build our systems to help. But these are, this is something that needs to happen. It’s a good idea to train managers, like before you roll it out, have a webinar, have some trainings, partner with your learning and development teams, give managers more than we’re giving them. Don’t just say, let’s do check-ins. Let’s talk about how performance is non-linear, and how do we deal with that when we’re dealing with employees. Um, that’s why, uh, appraisal periods. What, what is the optimal appraisal period in our organization?

Matt Wride | 38:59

Is it 12 months? Is it six months? Is it too frequent to do it every month? Like what’s the proper appraisal period? The frequency is, is essentially the same thing. It it goes hand in hand. And then depth. Are we doing short, long pulses? What’s what’s right for our organization? Um, what I will say is, I think two, I think the pendulum swung towards short pulses. And by doing that, we didn’t have a process to, to, to suss out the, the more detailed evaluative information that we’ve been talking about today. Style casual versus formal. I think there needs to be a mix. I think you need formal sit downs where, where people, where there is some evaluation taking place, communication style, um, upward feedback to balance down the top down approach. This is a great time to implement ways to have one eighties or upward feedback so that it’s not just an exercise in the up in the hierarchy, kind of telling other people what they need to be doing, but we can maybe pair it with feedback for the organization.

Matt Wride | 40:05

And then don’t forget to leverage objective data wherever possible. Bring that in and encourage your managers, because it’s not, there’s not a great system to sort of integrate with K-A-K-P-I system and pull that in. So it was, managers are doing their narrative essay components. They need to sort of include those. And I, you know, when I used to give performance reviews in, in another, in another organization I was with, I didn’t get any guidance. I was just given a paper and it was narrative style, and I just kind of talked about the person I wish I had been told, Hey, you know what, talk about objective measurements that matter. Like how many, how many client, um, meetings did they set? And those type of things. I wish I had taken the time to insert that into that. It would’ve been a much more meaningful evaluation on my part and more useful.

Christian Nielson | 40:54

Well then I’m, I’m glad you brought, brought that one up because in my conversations it’s, I’m looking at those business results, those other metrics that were, were operationally focused on, and, and then using the, the multi-rater feedback, uh, in conjunction with it. And if, if someone’s getting results, but they’re, they’re leaving a, a trail of destruction culturally and the, and, and, and with the team and, and negatively impacting engagement, that that changes the, the whole tone of the conversations. Like, similarly, if everyone loves working with someone, but they’re not hitting, you know, the, the core objectives of the job, you know, that’s, that’s a problem as well. You know, one thing you also mentioned, Matt, um, that I think is, is worth calling out on this is, you know, as you mentioned, wanting more guidance in a past experience doing this. I I also think there’s, there’s value in training the entire organization a bit on the, on the instruments or the, the, the system you’re gonna be using and talking about your scale, you know, those scales that skew high.

Christian Nielson | 41:53

You, you can impact that positively or you can, you can correct a bit, not completely by training people ahead of time. You know, for example, in the, the, the instrument we just used, it went from there were five, five levels of our scale, unacceptable needs improvement, fully meets expectation, often exceeds expectation always exceeds expectation. And doing a little bit of training around, hey, fully meets expectation is what we’ve we’re asking. Um, not everyone’s going to get fives on, on every item and training on that. We can, we can help, um, undo some of the, the future skewing of, of the data. But, uh, again, doesn’t, doesn’t correct it completely as, as most of us know, but there, there are other things we can do there.

Matt Wride | 42:39

And then as we design instruments, we try to do typical competency base, but then we’ll throw in there potential questions where I’ll ask, uh, you know, we’ll ask a question, is this person ready to, uh, would you trust this person on an agreement scale to lead this team through a difficult challenge? So it’s, we’re, and so by mixing your questions and being creative in there, you can start to sort of see different perspectives that then are, are, but they’re still based on the voices of a variety of evaluators. Yeah, yeah. People often go to a four point scale for that reason. And, and, and, and, and there’s, there’s good reason to do that. Go ahead, Christian.

Christian Nielson | 43:20

No, I was just gonna say the same thing. You know, the, the, the age old debate, even number odd number. Do we, do we give them a middle option or do we force them to choose, uh, one side of the fence and there’s, there’s trade-offs?

Matt Wride | 43:33

Yeah. Um, we’re not gonna go through all of these biases. This is a list of common, um, fundamental biases or heuristics that that can impact, uh, performance review. Everything from availability bias, like the, the, the stuff that’s just most recent or dramatic events or confirmation bias. You know, we, we, we sort of see, um, we see, we kind of see only what we expect from that employee because we have a predetermined view of that employee. And so we just see the confirming evidence. We don’t see the evidence that’s, that’s against, um, where this is, uh, uh, a notion about calibration. Again, um, in calibrating, you can talk about these biases. You can talk about what the scale means, and that’s where this notion of training and training, I really want to emphasize and really, like what Christian said, training the entire organization. If we’re gonna do it, let’s do it, right?

Matt Wride | 44:28

, let’s not just have this hated thing that we sort of just kind of do as a token thing. Let’s do it and let’s, let’s do it right? And let’s, let’s make employees part of it and let’s, and let’s build this and consistently look to refine it and make it better, rather than just kind of doing a Fabian technique where we just sort of want to outlive it as long as we can . So, um, but these are some biases. Finally, this is our recommendation. So we, uh, believe in 360 performance reviews. That’s, uh, something that our organization has been developing and promoting for years, but it hasn’t been easy, but, but technology has made it much easier than it was in the past. And what 360 performance reviews do is allow you to, without burdening the organization, you can get manager input, you can get the, the individual’s input, you can get coworkers, you can get skip level, but you could email to outside customers and invite.

Matt Wride | 45:22

So they have a, if they’re on a key client and they support a key client, you could even choose to invite someone from the outside to get, um, to get a perspective on how, and ask them some very specific questions like, this person’s responsive to my needs. And you can bring that in. So again, more voices means better information. It also means a fair process if you ask employees and survey them of the different performance style methods out there, which do they prefer? They prefer multi-rater. It’s also typically gonna have a co going to have a competency based, um, module at the very least. And that those, you can, you can publish your competencies, you can talk about them and they can be something you train on.

Christian Nielson | 46:07


Matt Wride | 46:07

Um, Christian mentioned employees prefer Trust 360 feedback, but also managers don’t, aren’t just relying on their own opinion. They get to have some likely are going to have some help from others when they wanna make their point.

Christian Nielson | 46:21


Matt Wride | 46:23

Um, and then group analytics. And finally, what this all leads to in our, and, and what we produce is something from a 10 page report to a 50 page report. As long as you want, it’s completely modular, but you can create a report and that report will have how the scores went down. It will have the text comments, it will have the manager’s narrative essay portion will have the employee’s narrative essay portion, and there’s a report suddenly that you can debrief on. You can sit down and say, I wanna walk you through this performance review. And it lists the groups and, and you maintain confidentiality because we, we roll up groups except for the manager and the, and the, and the employee themselves. You can, you can roll people into groups. And so they, they’re, the confidentiality threshold is done because we’re only gonna show the data if we have more than three responses.

Christian Nielson | 47:12

It, it was a, a really good question, uh, in the group about how do you determine who gets to rate you in a 360? And, uh, you know, in development there, I mean there we have, we have things that we recommend in every case, but in development, there’s a little more leeway to say, yeah, choose all your own raters. There’s, you know, they often will let HR or their manager weigh in on that as well. But when it comes to performance, there needs to be more of a formula. Uh, you might give folks, uh, the option to choose one or two raters, but usually there it’s, uh, the HR predetermines, okay, these are the, these are the roles that you need to be included. Um, but yeah, you, you could potentially stack the deck, um, with, with only positive voices. You, you know, your manager would, uh, be in there and that that wouldn’t be one you could, you could select around, but, uh, there’s different strategies, but in most cases, you have some at least prescriptive methods, and then you give them maybe a little flexibility to add a few, uh, raters, uh, to the, to the pool, which also adds to the fairness or the perceived fairness that I, I got to have, uh, some selection in the, in the process.

Christian Nielson | 48:25

Um, I don’t know, Matt, anything to add to that?

Matt Wride | 48:28

No, that’s right. And this sounds overwhelming. It sounds like you couldn’t do this for an organization of a thousand people or 2000. We, we’ve done ’em, you can do this if you have a good integration with your, with your HIRS and you have a hierarchy, making these choices and setting these, setting these system to auto run is, is easier than people think. It takes some software doing some good software to do it, but it’s possible. My, my sort of my last point, I think before we open up for q and a or just sort of kind of wrap up is it is hard. I I am, we’re in a, we live in a world of feedback here at decision-wise, and I am amazed how poorly I do it at times. I’m amazed at, at that. I, I think I know I, I conceptually understand how to do it well, and I’m not great.

Matt Wride | 49:20

And I’m very mindful and thankful for tools that help me do it better. And when I can have a report and I can sit down and have a process and sit down and ha and debrief an employee on their performance review, and I can walk through the scores and I can ask them their thoughts about it, and I can, I can even train managers how to, how to have a debrief conversation that gives me a framework to ha to sort of discuss things that are hard to discuss. But I can do it sort of around the feedback that just doesn’t represent my own view. It represents the view of maybe four or five, six other individuals that is a more comfortable situation and a situation where I do better. And I think I’m not alone in that, that other managers will benefit from having a way and a framework to have a discussion.

Matt Wride | 50:10

Because I think when you sit down, I can’t tell you the number of times where I’m like, well, how are things going? They’re fine. And, and that’s the extent of my one-on-one. And it’s, and I, I strive to make ’em better and I set agendas and I’m constantly working on that. But I was, I look back and how many performance reviews I’ve given over my career, and I’m not very proud of a lot of those where I didn’t have the training or the support I needed. Yeah. Um, I don’t know, do you have any final thoughts or, or recommendations?

Christian Nielson | 50:38

No, I, you’ve mentioned it several times, but you know, none of this is in place of, uh, performance conversations. It’s, it’s to better equip the manager, it’s to better to give the organization more of what it’s going to need to be successful. And it’s to give the employee a better experience. And so it, that manager conversation still needs to happen. It need that. We need managers that are skilled on, uh, on, on having those conversations, but we give them much better tools if we’re, we’re giving them, um, a report with more voices, at least in, in, in our approach with this is to, you know, help the manager make the most of that. But it’s not to replace that one-on-one conversation that every employee should be having with their manager around, how am I doing? What’s, what’s the future look like for me? How, how can I get better? Um, and as well as giving the, the org, those, the data points they need for merit increases and succession, all those good things.

Matt Wride | 51:39

If I could fix one thing, I would like to fix performance reviews in the world, . And I think if, if I’m an HR leader in a company and I wanna shine, I think that to the extent I can find tweaks or improvements to improve the performance review process, I think you’re making a huge difference in the organization. And I think it’s actually helping employees more than, than the other things that we can spend our time on. And nobody wants to do it. It’s the dirty work, it’s the heavy lifting, it’s the blocking and tackling. How many more metaphors can I use? But , the, it’s, it’s the, it’s the, it’s a really great area for a, an HR business partner to get their hands dirty. And to really add significant value to an organization is to think carefully about the process and to constantly be, be fixing it with tweaks and, and make it better. Um, and so that’s the point is there’s no one, one size fits all. We have an approach that we would love to tell you more about. If you, if you want, you can reach out to us, uh, at decision, but we understand that every organization’s unique.

Christian Nielson | 52:45

Good. Good. Question here. Uh, are peer interviews anonymous or, or peer ratings, perhaps peer peers are reluctant to rate coworkers. Do you ever see peer reviews backfire and cause tension among team members?

Matt Wride | 52:59

I think one, that’s one reason why we have clients turn to us is because we have confidentiality thresholds and we’re a third party. Yeah. So, and so we can sort of give some, and we respect that those, we don’t turn over the data when we, when a client and we tell, if we tell, uh, employees that this is a confidential survey, it’s not, it’s never anonymous. But is it confidential? It’s confidential in the sense that we will not display results unless say there’s three or four people that have participated in the process so that the, the, the scores are sort of, kind of rolled up into an aggregate score. That’s how we preserve confidentiality. If you’re, if you’re doing it internally, it can be more of a challenge. ’cause there’s a perception that everything’s rigged and, and you have to fight hard to get over to, to overcome that perception.

Christian Nielson | 53:46

The, the exception of course, would be the self and the manager, uh, obviously in groups of one, but the others, yeah, there’s confidentiality. There’s also a lot of flexibility in how we group that, for example, different, different, there’s so many different flavors of organizational structures and dynamics that we can put peers in a group with other groups, you know, and, and, and do other things when necessarily, but in practice, it hasn’t been a problem. Um, there’s some, some things to dive into in, in, in process design around that, but no, the peers, um, the anonymity, we, we get good participation. You can set minimum requirements, lots of things there to kind of manage it, but it hasn’t really blown anything up that we’ve, we’ve seen there with that, that peer rating as a part of this. Good question. Any, any other well questions? Go ahead. Yeah, please.

Matt Wride | 54:45

I think can wrap up. You’re doing good work. It’s not fun stuff. It’s not glorified work, but it’s, it’s really, really valuable.

Christian Nielson | 54:52

Yeah, for sure.

Matt Wride | 54:56

All right, everybody, we will send out, uh, the slides as well as information on your, on your continuing ed credit. And thanks for, thanks for spending some time with us today.