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The 4 Biggest Challenges with Traditional Performance Management Systems

Date posted: 2/5/2016

Our team has amassed dozens of years of collective HR experience and over that time, we have heard and directly experienced numerous frustrations with traditional performance management systems used by medium and large companies. Four of the biggest challenges of performance management include:

Feedback is too infrequent

Employees and HR managers identify the frequency of feedback as their number one frustration with performance management. The cadence of the traditional performance review process typically includes a year-end annual performance review, followed shortly by a goal-setting meeting early in the year. Lucky employees might get a mid-year review, and very lucky employees might get a quarterly update meeting.

The rarity of feedback means that employees either have to proactively request feedback from their manager or colleagues, or work with limited feedback. This represents an extremely challenging work environment, especially for younger employees or those with limited experience in their role.

The annual review process is too time-intensive

Most managers admit to spending hours, if not days, “filling out forms” for their annual performance reviews, rather than spending that time more productively by providing meaningful feedback to their direct reports. Even for those companies who utilize a technology-enabled process, the technology solution merely replaces paper forms, rather than re-engineering the annual performance review process.

And those employers who have migrated to adopt 360 feedback have now imposed a new layer of additional “forms to fill out” rather than engaging employees in valuable communications with peers and managers.

Qualitative feedback has no scale

Very often, feedback provided to employees has no scale, so it is difficult if not impossible to interpret. For example, “communicates very thoroughly” might be interpreted by some employees to be outstanding performance, but might be intended to imply that communication needs to be more succinct and direct.

This lack of specificity in feedback is usually not the fault of managers or colleagues, but rather is inherent in the nature of providing feedback. Often what is needed is not a formal and detailed rating scale, but a simple mechanism for employees to understand whether their communication – or their analysis, their deliverable, their performance overall – meets the expectations of their colleagues.

Feedback is not actionable

In contrast to the challenge of not having a way to evaluate qualitative feedback, some companies employ a performance review process in which employees are rated on a 4 or 5-point scale. The risk of these approaches is that individual performance gets translated into a number (and most employees end up with a 3.5 or 4.0), and very little feedback is actionable.

Ideally, quantitative performance ratings should be married to narrative commentary so that employees can both understand how their performance matches up with company, manager and peer expectations, and also receive actionable feedback to more effectively modify and tweak behaviors and performance.

Our Perspective

BlinkEval is continually striving to find the optimal balance point to communicate performance feedback to employees. BlinkEval provides an intuitive user experience to allow employees to provide real-time performance feedback. Our solution is fast, intuitive and easy to use, yet flexible enough to accommodate robust and actionable feedback. We are eliminating as much friction and time involved in the performance feedback process as possible. Please learn more about our solution to these challenges at and take us for a test drive!

Coming Soon

In our next two posts, we will be exploring how Real-time Performance Feedback can enhance your current Performance Management process, and our estimate of the ROI of Real-time Performance Feedback solutions.

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