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The Horse is Dead: Traditional Performance Reviews are Officially Over So What’s Next?

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**This post originally appeared on Human Capital Institute’s blog here.**

I remember the stress I felt during my very first performance review – but can’t recall a single thing my manager told me. The feedback could have been entirely positive, but I dreaded the entire process so much that it ultimately didn’t affect anything about my performance.

The good news today is that the proverbial “horse is dead” with traditional performance reviews. Now that we’ve all acknowledged that they’re a thing of the past, what’s next? Although every company’s performance review strategy might differ, there’s one thing all their employees have in common: the way the human brain reacts.

The NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI) is making the critical connection between brain research and the most effective way for businesses evaluate and develop employees. One way that NLI recommends transforming performance management is by using the SCARF model to lessen the threat that many employees feel during these conversations. The model is a helpful way to remember areas that trigger a negative response such as:

  • Annual reviews can make employees feel their positions within the company or on a team is threatened, even if that’s not the case.
  • Backward-looking conversations can spark insecurity. Think about it – have you ever gotten nervous when your manager asked to “have a conversation” with you? From the outset, people feel uneasy.
  • Managers typically control the conversation, making employees feel powerless or inadequate. When you feel out of control, it’s unlikely your performance is going be positively affected.
  • Performance reviews can hurt the relationship between manager and employee. Have you ever walked out an annual review actually feeling closer to your manager? Probably not.
  • Traditional review processes can often feel like manager-to-employee directives. Employees are also often times given number rankings that can pit teammates against one another.

It’s possible to lessen, if not completely eliminate, the threat responses that employees instinctively feel during these conversations. But how do organizations manage change and ensure this mindset becomes second nature in their managers?

Companies can continually reinforce new training such as the SCARF model by providing employees with real-time technology solutions that facilitate coaching conversations and feedback. As organizations move toward a more frequent feedback cadence, engagement solutions like HighGround are empowering managers to give meaningful feedback to employees more often.

Applying the SCARF model not only lessens the negative response from employees, but also trains managers how to be more effective coaches. The result? Performance reviews are no longer dreaded conversations for both the employee and manager and are instead positive, forward-focused discussions.

It’s time to bring employee performance back to life through research-driven methodologies and real-time technology. What are you doing to change the way your organization approaches performance management?

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