So it seems that Accenture, among others, has decided to cut the cord, and eliminate annual performance reviews. Plenty of pundits have weighed in on this being a good idea, with only a few people saying that it could cause some serious problems for the giant consulting company or others who have started to follow the trend.
It does seem to make logical sense that providing more regular feedback throughout the year would be a better way to manage employees, determine performance, and set up rewards. Most articles covering the big shift mention that the current systems in place tend to cost the companies a lot of money and don’t tend to get the results that they want, i.e., better managed performance.
All very interesting points, but I’m more interested in the human impact. I’m interested in what it means for the average worker to move from an annual process to a more fluid, consistent feedback loop. I think it may bring an unexpected benefit in helping you to build your unique, personal brand with your boss.
A more frequent feedback loop means that the worker is expected to work on consistently achieving goals. Giving us the chance to focus on how we differentiate from the rest of the market, and how we can report on our progress in reaching those goals.
If your company is one of the enlightened few moving to this new paradigm, or even if you aren’t, here are some suggestions about how to have your personal brand see you through the performance review cycle, and reach your goals at the same time.
- Determine your positioning – Before you meet with your boss to set goals, start with what makes you such a contender. What are your unique skills and talents that make you successful? You’ll want to have these elements woven into the story you’ll tell you boss about your progress through the year. If you’re stellar at forming close, trusted relationships across departments, then make sure that you find a way to keep updating your boss on all the ways that your people skills are generating real results for him. I can’t emphasize enough: DO NOT SKIMP ON THIS WORK. This is the time to really do some digging and make sure you can talk about yourself in clear ways to play to your unique strengths, especially those that connect you to your team and to hard results.
- Set and clarify realistic goals and metrics – Clarify your goals with your boss, and make sure you don’t just talk about the raw numbers (that are important), but also the how’s and why’s behind the figures. That way you’re both aligned with what your boss expects to see as you start achieving them.
- Ask for feedback that will drive you – Let your boss know what kind of feedback helps you, and what kind demotivates you. Give them the tools to help you stay in the game, focused on what matters. Again, you have to be the expert in what makes you special, and you want to continue to have others interact with and appreciate that unique brand that is you. So tell them how best to guide you, and then show them how productive and successful you can be when you are given the right kind of input.
- Clear the calendar – Set up checkpoints throughout the year to touch base on progress and course-correct. Remember that these moments are important in continuing to educate your boss on your unique approach, and how your skills are being applied specifically to their business problems. Just like you want your boss to provide you feedback, these are the times when you give them something to provide feedback on, so prepare for them, and bring your a-game each and every time so that you’re giving the best picture of where you are. Your preparation here pays off in useful feedback, so you’ll get out of them what you put in.
- Listen with both ears – When getting intermittent feedback, it’s super important that you internalize and understand the direction and correction you’re given. Check your understanding with your boss to make sure that you’re receiving what they’re sending, and don’t let wires get crossed, or the benefits of frequent feedback can get lost. Being able to catch serious problems faster or spot big opportunities quicker is a key advantage of frequent feedback, so you want to get all the value possible from each meeting.
- Don’t fear the red flag – If you think you’re getting into trouble or falling behind on metrics, don’t hide it from your boss. You want your personal brand to be one that promises “No Nasty Surprises!” Keeping in touch doesn’t mean that you wait until your scheduled quarterly meeting to say that you’re missing targets. If you think you’re running into problems that merit attention, then step up and alert the powers that be.
- Document, document, document – Be sure to take notes on your progress for your boss or just yourself, so that you can be sure that you’ve got the facts ready for any spur-of-the-moment reporting. Different people learn and internalize progress differently, but a popular method for consistent score-checking is to design some kind of dashboard, which puts progress into an unequivocal metric that you can read at a glance. Consider putting together one of these dashboards for yourself, if not for your boss and team (more on these dashboards can be found here).
Doing away with the year-end performance review is not going to solve all your company’s problems or remove all the stress of managing employee performance. However, it can create an opportunity for you to develop your personal brand. So don’t let those quarterly touch-base meetings go to waste!
MetaMorph Corporation is dedicated to creating the future of personal branding. Find out more here.