In recent years, many organizations have abandoned the traditional annual appraisal, but that doesn’t mean they’ve turned their backs on performance management. On the contrary, they’ve recognized the value of continuous feedback and regular check-ins on performance metrics.

The annual appraisal still plays an important role in the performance management process. It’s just not the only process anymore. Instead of the annual anxiety-inducing performance review, Officevibe research found that 96% of employees say they want to engage in more regular dialogue regarding their performance with those they work alongside and the company as a whole.

What is Continuous Performance Management?

Continuous performance management does exactly what it says on the tin. Instead of giving an employee feedback once a year, allowing performance issues to build up and become serious challenges, organizations instead are supporting frequent performance check-ins between managers and employees.

These check-ins most commonly take place weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, though the schedule can be adapted to meet each organization’s performance management needs. For instance, some employees or roles may require closer management contact or supervision, while others may be relatively independent. What’s important is that check-ins fit in with your performance management cadence, without making employees feel micromanaged or leaving managers out of the loop for too long.

How to Get Continuous Performance Management Right

The first thing to understand is that employees actively want more feedback, and they want it more frequently. Only 19% of millennials report that they receive routine feedback at work as opposed to formal performance reviews alone — and that includes negative feedback.

The key to successful continuous performance management is setting clear expectations at the outset. This includes the schedule, intended discussion points and what both parties must prepare. This is particularly important when the manager-employee relationship is remote. It’s crucial to maintain a strong working relationship to maintain insight into the focus of employees and the team, while being sensitive to employee morale and wellbeing.

One information technology (IT) services provider uses its performance management system to manage and monitor conversations between managers and employees, including providing evidence of progress toward competencies and goals, making it clear what employees have done and what they need to do next.

Opting for an adaptable performance management system is vital to respond effectively to uncertainty and rapid, expected change. Being able to re-configure your processes quickly will help you support your people more effectively. This way, you won’t be imprisoned by the rigid structures of proprietary software and the inevitable withering of engagement and good practice that follows when the processes feel outdated or no longer relevant to the new working environment.

Ensuring Everyone Gets Valuable Feedback

360-degree feedback is a powerful complement to any continuous performance management process, and it is already used by more than 85% of all Fortune 500 companies. Traditionally, feedback flows one way from the manager to the employee, which results in a blinkered and often biased outcome. Collecting feedback from a wide range of people, including teammates, colleagues on other teams and even external sources, such as partner organizations or key customers. This helps build a more rounded and balanced picture of an employee’s performance.

It’s also important to ensure that feedback flows both ways. Gallup found that managers receiving feedback on their strengths show almost 9% greater profitability. Employees who feel comfortable giving feedback to managers foster a stronger, more trusting relationship. However, remember to provide a safe environment where feedback can be given and received without fear of repercussions.

Tying It All Together

Continuous performance management alone isn’t enough to transform your organization’s talent strategy. However, when aligned with your learning and engagement strategies, your talent experience becomes a lot more powerful and effective.

One logistics company implemented their performance management system alongside their learning management system (LMS) to allow employees and managers to better understand the link between learning and workplace performance. Employees can update their competency level upon completion of specific courses, which are then reviewed by managers to ensure accuracy. This gives supervisors the information they need to manage and plan job deployment and training according to competency levels, bringing together learning and performance in a comprehensive integrated solution.

Just 40% of employees say that performance reviews encourage them to improve their performance, and the underlying research into what motivates people at work supports this view. Bringing learning, engagement and performance practices together addresses the three key motivators of mastery (skills development), autonomy (the space and safety to exercise those skills) and purpose (with alignment between company, team and individual goals).

So, if you want to be among the 6% of organizations that strongly agree that their performance management has had a positive impact on performance, maybe it’s time to consider continuous performance management.