Kill the Annual Performance Review

If you are like most of the banks that we have worked with, you have everything you need to kill the annual performance review except one thing... the right mind-set!

If you are like most of the banks that we have worked with, you have everything you need to kill the annual performance review except one thing... the right mind-set!

Let me tell you the story of the three-killer-steps and you'll see what I mean...The big idea is to make performance a continuous process, owned by everyone.

The trick of Phase 1 is to translate strategy down to the team and individual level. You're going to trigger people's intrinsic motivators - just like in on-line gaming - by helping people see their Purpose, they can Master the skills required. Then you give them continuous Feedback (dashboards and scorecards), they can operate Autonomously towards their goals and success, and develop their own performance Conversations. (Credits to Daniel Pink and others).

Rethink the ideas of applying Pavlovian logic to your knowledge-workers (after all the "carrot and whip are meant for the ass in the middle"...not for your university educated associates that use their brains, not hands, to create value).

Next you need to create more frequent, less formal, performance conversations...Both one-on-one and also team-based... Just like in any team sport...everyone knows everything about every play! Weekly/monthly conversations at the individual, team, department and corporate levels. These conversations decouple the performance conversation from the compensation conversation...creating a risk-free zone for team collaboration and individual alignment and performance.

Rethink the idea of waiting until the year is baked before talking about performance, and then have those conversations as if they are more top-secret than briefing Trump!

Don't drive beyond your headlights! You can't see a year into the future...so why would you pretend to define what people are supposed to do 12 months from now?

Rethink the idea of sticking to 12-month plans...build agility into your planning and execution engines. I'm seeing successful banks using the 1-quarter plan as the the new 1-year plan.

So there you have it... you already have the building blocks:

  • a strategy...that no one knows or works against
  • teams and individuals that just need to know what they should be doing more of (and what things they should be doing less of)
  • frequent team and departmental meetings that need to be made more effective, focused and performance-centric
  • an ability to be agile at the performance evle, not just for IT projects

The experience we have gleaned over the last 30 years, plus some exciting cloud-based software, makes killing your annual performance review an easy thing... and possible in your organization in time for 2017.


Give me a call - I'll gladly share with you the details that go behind these three phases, and the tools and techniques we have used to drag banks like yours out of the 1960's.

Brett Knowles

Brett Knowles is a thought leader in the Strategy Execution space for high-tech organizations. His client work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, and many other business publications.

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