Abandoning the Annual Performance Review

Over the last two years, many organizations in Canada and the US have abandoned their annual performance review process.  Besides the general revulsion of this practice by both managers and employees, many organizations have found that this process focused on past behaviour rather than promoting conversations about future performance.  In short, the process was found to be a lot of hassle with not enough valuable return.

Another major flaw with the year-end process is that many organizations in the past had tied the performance review rating with the annual increase, forcing many managers to rank their staff in order to stay within the merit increase budget.  Does forced ranking make you think of the military?  Well, that is where this idea originated from!  This merit-rating or forced-ranking system was created during World War I to identify poor performers for discharge or transfer (Cappelli & Tavis, 2016).

Today, organizations understand the need for focusing on people development and are finding creative ways to provide ongoing feedback.  In my years as an HR professional working with organizations of various sizes and in various industries, I’ve learned that there common features shared by successful performance management programs:

  1. Performance feedback is not just given once a year – it is provided daily, weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly. It is part of your organization’s culture and begins with the employee’s onboarding experience!
  2. The organizational culture is a safe one, promoting feedback and continual learning. In this type of culture, employees can speak openly and honestly about their project successes and failures; what they can start, stop, and continue doing; and how they can work better together.
  3. Employees are involved in the goal-setting process and participate actively in what I call “goal attainment check-ins” – regular meetings with a manager or team to discuss where they are and where they need to go.
  4. People Managers have regular conversations with employees about their own career goals. They align these career goals with the organization’s goals, providing support and opportunities for career growth.  If done right, this practice will help engage and retain your top performers!
  5. Performance feedback is documented and shared with the employee. Feedback is the foundation for a performance development plan, clearly outlining job expectations and goals, and focusing on the employee’s future in your organization.

I have seen great examples of technological tools that facilitate timely feedback and recognition from manager to employee, and from peer to peer, however an organization does not need to invest in technology to adopt this new performance management practice.

Next Steps

If you are ready to adopt this new performance management practice or would like to develop a performance management program in your organization, contact LINK HR at (416) 565-9876 or email adriana@linkhr.ca.

About us

The Human Resources Consultants of LINK HR assist organizations attain their goals by implementing people solutions that link to business strategy.  Please visit us at https://www.linkhr.ca for more information about our services and solutions.


This post/blog is made available for the purpose of providing general information or awareness, and not to provide specific information, legal advice, or interpretation of the law for any organization or reader. LINK HR has made every attempt to ensure the reliability of the information provided, however no warranty of accuracy, expressed or implied, is provided. If reference links are provided, readers should be aware that these website addresses may change over time.

Works Cited

Cappelli, P., & Tavis, A. (2016). The Performance Management Revolution. Harvard Business Review.