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Why Forward-Thinking Companies Are Embracing Performance Check-Ins

by Nicholas Edwards on October 01, 2018

It’s hard to think of a more pointless process than the annual appraisal. For all the time, effort and money it takes to repeat this cycle each year, nobody really benefits from it.

I had a job a few years back where I received zero feedback from my manager for the first eight months of my employment. Not once, even during my probationary period, did I hear a single word.

Then one day, totally out of the blue, I was asked to fill in a paper form comprising five different categories, against which I had to mark myself on a one-to-five scale, before handing it in to my manager. A few weeks later, the same form arrived back on my desk, but this time with my manager’s ratings of my performance.

And that was it, my annual performance review. I learnt nothing and gained nothing. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around in that job much longer.

Given that we’re currently in the midst of an employee engagement and productivity crisis, it’s hard to believe that this outdated practice still happens. And yet it does. Despite overwhelming evidence that it simply doesn’t work.

In a YouGov survey commissioned by MHR last  year, only 14% of respondents felt that annual appraisals provided them with all of the support that they needed. Similarly, only 21% of respondents thought that all of their previous objectives were still relevant by the time the appraisal came around, highlighting the pointlessness of providing feedback on a set date each year.

A whopping 78% found the appraisal process to be time-consuming and pointless, while only 26% found it useful.

It’s no wonder that forward-thinking companies have seen the light and are switching to real-time feedback via performance check-ins. Are you one of them?

What are check-ins?

Check-ins are informal meetings held between managers and employees to discuss everything from progress and goals to happiness and engagement. The key thing here is that check-ins offer real-time feedback. Instead of having a set date when feedback is given, they can be scheduled as and when they are needed.

Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits that check-ins bring.

  • They solve issues as they arise

If you had a leaky roof at home, would you get it fixed ASAP or leave it to drip for months on end? The answer is blindingly obvious. Such problems require urgent attention, because they will only get worse with time.

The same rule applies to issues in the workplace – they need to be dealt with as and when they come up, before they have time to grow and fester. After all, what good is advice and support if it comes too late?

You would be amazed at the amount of work-related issues that can be solved by having an open and honest conversation early on.

  • They build healthy relationships between managers and employees

In the modern workplace, management should be seen as a human process, not an administrative one. As such, it is essential that managers connect with their team on a personal level. The act of sitting down for a chat naturally breaks down boundaries, fostering healthy and open relationships between managers and employees.

Trust plays a big part here. For check-ins to really work, employees need to feel that they can speak their minds without fear of being judged or punished.

  • They level the playing field

In the traditional workplace, power is concentrated in the hands of a few. The dynamic between managers and employees is often more similar to that of parent and child than two adults. At People First, we believe in the need for a more grown-up approach to work.

Performance check-ins embody this shift in attitude, as they allow both manager and employee to meet as equals. They are about open and honest discussion, not one-way orders.

  • They allow managers to become coaches and mentors

Once upon a time, the job of a manager was to keep their team in line. This meant giving orders, delegating work, and disciplining anyone who fell short of the mark.

These days, managers are expected to be coaches and mentors – somebody that employees can go to when they need a little inspiration or a nudge in the right direction. Check-ins provide the perfect forum for managers to provide this type of hands-on support.

  • They drive employee engagement and performance

Believe it or not, but employees actually crave regular feedback and discussions around their work. This is particularly true of millennials, who have grown up in a world of instant information and results.

Regular check-ins are a great way to engage employees in their work, as they get to have proactive discussions about their direction and progress. And we all know that when employees are engaged, they are also happier and more productive. 

Save time and money with augmented check-ins

At People First, we’ve made it easier than ever to incorporate check-ins into your performance management repertoire. Our ground-breaking solution guides managers and employees through the entire process, from scheduling to completion.

Check-ins can be requested by a manager or employee at any time. They can take place face-to-face or remotely, ensuring that every employee has the chance to be heard, no matter where they work.

People First empowers employees to take charge of their own check-ins. Via their profile page, they can see information about past check-ins, complete with a visualisation of performance and progress over time.

On the other side of the table, our AI-infused software goes a step further than the rest, providing managers with ice-breakers and talking points based on relevant user-specific information. In today’s busy world, this ensures that they are always clued up on the employee’s recent activities and successes. People First also provides managers with valuable insights into the performance, happiness and engagement levels of their team, helping them to make better, more informed decisions.

What’s more, this process actually saves your business time and money. Annual appraisals are expensive: they cost between £1,400 and £2,400 per person per year. Check-ins, on the other hand, cost virtually nothing. The process is handled by those attending the meeting, and is managed entirely using the People First app – meaning HR staff don’t need to be involved. This way, a company with 400 employees could save £800,000 per year!

Are you are still stuck in the expensive and pointless annual appraisal process? Isn’t it time you thought about switching to performance check-ins? 

Why not get in touch with us today and see how People First could revolutionise your approach to performance management. Simply click on the pink chat icon in the bottom left-hand of your screen to speak to us.

For more information, why not download People First's Guide to Augmented Check-Ins.