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Above and Beyond: The Benefits of Achievement Recognition Over Annual Performance Reviews

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Research has shown that just about every single person in the workforce dislikes annual performance reviews. If this is how you’re handling feedback for the employees in your company, you may want to reconsider…

Despite your best intentions, there are many problems with annual performance reviews that could be hindering productivity and the success of your company. Not only do your employees dislike it, but it also robs you of valuable inside information that could be used to build self-esteem, get valuable first-hand feedback, solve issues as they occur, and generally boost productivity.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative to this basic business practice that can frame these evaluations in a positive light. The idea involves individual achievement recognition throughout the year instead of trying to cram it all in an annual performance review.

Read on to learn more about the problems with annual performance reviews and how regular, even impromptu achievement recognition can quickly create a win-win outcome for your company.

Achievement Recognition Opens Up a Dialogue

The model of annual performance reviews presents a one-sided exchange: you talking and your employees listening. You are basically going over your own notes and impressions while they do their best to digest it, all after the horse has long bolted!

This presents a major problem, however: chances are unless the manager is switched on, your employees don’t get their chance to talk. Instead, they’re just listening to what you have to say without a chance to provide their input. Doubtless, your company could really benefit from what they have to say.

Your employees have valuable information about the overall structure and operation of your company, as well as areas where it may need to be improved. If you set up an open dialogue with achievement recognition, you’ll give your employees a chance to outline their comments and concerns. In the end, everyone will benefit, employees feel valued and part of the team and management knows that better teamwork and personal performance will be a likely outcome.

Annual Performance Reviews Are Primarily Associated with Salary

When that time of year comes, one of the problems with annual performance reviews is that they are primarily associated with salary. Whenever money is involved, it can take a toll on the honesty of your exchange with your employees.

For instance, if an employee is hoping for the biggest raise possible (and, let’s face it, they always will be), they may hold back on telling you everything.

Most of the time, an employee who is aiming for a raise will only tell you the things you want to hear. If they have any negative feedback about their workplace or their performance, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll bring it up. Instead, they’ll probably be focusing on what they need to tell you in order to get their salary or conditions bumped up.

Annual Reviews Leave Too Much to Recall

A year is an incredibly long time to keep track of, especially when you’re spending 40 hours or more a week at work. It’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to look back and give every single achievement or failing the attention it deserves.

Imagine the best case scenario here: you’ve diligently kept a record KPI’s of all projects and achievements for each individual employee. Even if you did this, it would be nearly impossible to go through everything within a reasonable window of time. You’d still be glazing over details and trying your best to look at the big picture, which isn’t always going to be accurate or fair.

With, regular, individual, or team achievement recognition, you’re able to take small steps and go over each accomplishment with your employees. It will keep you more in touch knowing how they each play a part in the overall success of your business. As an added bonus, your employees will also greatly appreciate your attention to their specific situation.

Annual Reviews are Often Biased

One of the biggest problems with annual performance reviews is their tendency to be biased. Research has shown that 61% of your rating will be a reflection of yourself rather than the person you are rating.

Even if you’re doing your best to give a fair evaluation, it is very difficult to see the employee for their individual contributions over a 12 mth period. Instead, you may find yourself focused on your personal impressions of the employee rather than the value of their contribution.

Because you’re a human, it’s impossible for you to be a perfectly objective scoring system. There will always be differences in opinions regarding what you think is good versus what their intentions were. That is partly why we recommend a structured assessment program be instigated and applied in all businesses, small or large.

Achievement Recognition Focuses on the Positives

Most employees will have problems with annual performance reviews because there will almost always be some negative feedback to address. While this is usually meant to be constructive, it can also do some damage to your employee’s self-esteem and work ethic.

Even the best employees can have a hard time taking criticism. It’s a normal emotional reaction when your boss is telling you what you’re doing wrong. Despite your best efforts, it’s very unlikely that your negative feedback will be taken cheerfully.

Because of this, an employee whom you’ve heavily praised can still walk out of your meeting with a bad impression of their work performance. In many cases, they won’t see it as motivation for improvement. Instead, they may feel as if nothing they do is good enough.

Focusing on regular achievement recognition completely turns the tables on this negative pattern of thinking. Your employees will be much more motivated if they continuously recognized with service awards and corporate recognition for stellar performance. They’ll also feel highly valued in your workplace. These “reviews” may be monthly or quarterly with only an evaluation of sales performance perhaps being stretched further than that because a certain amount of figures are required for effective assessment.

As for giving negative feedback, you can still make time for it if it’s absolutely necessary. For instance, if an employee’s behaviour or performance is hindering your productivity, then set up an individual meeting to “nip it in the bud”, so the issue does not become an uncorrected habit.

Otherwise, don’t forget that your employees are only human and nobody is perfect. In most cases, you don’t have to say anything negative at all. Focus on building them up instead with a casual suggestion like ” have you considered approaching ____________ this way”?

Achievement Recognition Provides Rewards as You Go

A year is a long time to wait for feedback regarding your overall job performance. Without individual achievement recognition, your employees may lose sight of what goals they’re working towards. It may feel as though they are consistently putting in work without any payoff.

If you’re consistently rewarding your employees with achievement recognition as they go, be it peer to peer, section leaders, managers, or even the CEO you’ll build the momentum of their performance. They’ll feel good about what they’re contributing and that will keep them wanting to do even more.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still using annual performance reviews to evaluate and reward your employees, it’s time to reconsider your strategy. By initiating individual achievement recognition, you’ll be motivating your employees and using that momentum to foster a positive vibe, retain employees and prosper your company’s bottom line, credibility, and position in its market niche.

To learn more about the benefits of achievement recognition, contact us today.