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When I am working with clients as their fractional HR Business Partner, I’m seeing more and more that in today’s modern workplace, traditional annual appraisals are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Instead, I’m working with organisations that are embracing a culture of continuous feedback and empowerment, where employees take the reins of their own development. 
Gone are the days of waiting a whole year to address performance issues or discuss career growth. Today, the focus is on real-time feedback and fostering open communication between managers and their teams. What comes with this approach, is the removal of ratings which are very often inaccurate, and research shows they do not drive better performance. 
 
One of the key strategies is the implementation of regular ‘catch ups’ between employees and their managers. These meetings provide a platform for ongoing dialogue, allowing employees to drive their own performance and career discussions. 

So, what’s the new way of driving performance? 

Employee Led 
A pivotal aspect of the revised approach is the emphasis on employees taking the initiative to request meetings with their managers when they feel the need for support, feedback, or career guidance. Rather than waiting for managers to lead these discussions, employees are encouraged to proactively seek out opportunities to discuss their performance, career aspirations, and any challenges they may be facing. 
 
By empowering employees to initiate these conversations, organisations create a culture of ownership and accountability. Employees become active participants in their own development. This approach will mean employees feel heard, valued, and supported in their professional journey. 
 
Regular, Timely & Team Focussed 
As businesses change so rapidly, the focus should be on short term goals, perhaps quarterly or even monthly. And there should be in-the-moment review and feedback at both individual and team level. For example, straight after a project concludes or a client presentation finishes, meet as a team and discuss how that went and what could be differently. Use this opportunity to celebrate the successes and learn together from mistakes. This will embed a culture of openness and continuous learning. 
 
A Light Process 
Annual reviews come with a lot of preparation and administration and are notoriously seen as a laborious process which takes up too much time for managers. Instead, keep the process light and encourage regular catch ups between managers and their team members. Instead of lots of forms to complete, provide managers with guidance on how to have an effective conversation using open questions that will make the meeting employee led. The impact of these catch-ups will be way more productive than issuing ratings once a year and will encourage in-the-moment learning. 
 
Focus on Coaching 
Develop your managers to coach their team as opposed to assess them with unwanted ratings. This will encourage the employee to drive their own performance and lead the conversation based on what they are capable of and how they would approach a task. Remind managers that they can ask ‘how are you? / ‘How are things going in general for you?’ and not always focus on business which will build trust and rapport for a great working environment. Guide managers on ways to deliver feedback both good and bad so conversations are balanced and support continuous learning. This is what managing is about after all – having better conversations to get the best for their team members’ development as opposed to fitting in a process. 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, the evolving landscape of the modern workplace is witnessing a significant shift towards empowering employees to take charge of their own performance and development. Traditional annual appraisals are being replaced by a culture of continuous feedback and dialogue, where employees are encouraged to drive their own career discussions. By implementing regular catch-ups and emphasising employee-led meetings, organisations foster a sense of ownership and accountability among their teams. This approach not only ensures that employees feel heard and valued but also promotes a culture of openness and continuous learning. By focusing on short-term goals, in-the-moment feedback, and coaching rather than ratings, businesses can create a more agile and supportive environment where employees thrive and grow. 
 
Ultimately, the key to driving performance lies in empowering employees to take control of their own development, supported by effective coaching and regular, meaningful dialogue with their managers. 
 
By Chloe Lander 
Tagged as: Performance
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