By Rae Steinbach
Continuous performance management may once have seemed like a temporary trend, more and more organizations are beginning to implement some or many of its principles. The annual performance review is no longer an effective option due to structural inefficiencies as well as to broader changes in the modern workplace. From a shift away from traditional offices towards all-in-one coworking spaces and a general atmosphere of flexibility, the workplace is changing—especially in remote companies.
As employees and managers alike begin to look for alternatives, continuous performance management offers a number of benefits for both sides. Forward-thinking distributed companies can attract and retain better talent while getting more out of their employees by implementing a continuous performance management system.
Why Annual Reviews Fail the Modern Business Environment
Companies of all sizes and from a wide range of industries are quickly adopting continuous performance management in what the Harvard Business Review has termed The Performance Management Revolution. Modern remote companies are outgrowing the by-the-numbers approach of annual reviews, and a number of changes in workplace culture have made obvious the need for a new philosophy.
One of the most important differences between traditional offices and the modern workplace is the continuing rise of telecommuting and the end of the conventional nine to five schedule. Employees are no longer content with the one-sided relationships that characterized the world of the annual review and desire an active voice in their businesses. All of these factors have contributed to the rise of continuous performance management.
How Does Continuous Performance Management Work?
Just like the style of performance review that preceded it, the philosophies of continuous performance management can be applied in a variety of ways, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. That said, keeping a few key principles in mind can help you tailor a continuous performance management system to your distributed company’s unique needs and goals.
First, effective evaluation and improvement requires consistent communication and feedback. Unlike the old system, which limited discussion to designated times for review, continuous performance management typically involves a higher number of less formal one-on-one meetings. During these, managers can offer feedback and employees can discuss their progress along with upcoming goals or tasks.
This same principle applies to collecting data, as recent performance can be evaluated monthly or even every few weeks. Managers can use this information to offer proactive advice rather than reacting to trends and habits that have developed over the course of an entire year.
Finally, many distributed companies that use continuous performance management systems also understand that valuable feedback can come from anywhere. Rather than limiting evaluation to the performance review itself, managers can allow employees to give feedback to their peers and solicit it when needed.
Continuous performance management isn’t just a fad—it’s the new dominant model for forward-thinking remote companies. Applying these principles in a way that suits your remote business will help maximize each employee’s productivity and give managers a more effective method of evaluating and improving performance.
Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course. You can follow her on Twitter @araesininthesun.