How tech companies are developing performance management to retain employees

The way employers undertake performance management reviews and appraisals is changing – from formal, yearly reviews (that run the risk of being stilted and not always very effective) to far more regular, open and engaged dialogue between line managers and employees. Tech companies often lead the way with business transformation and this includes management style and reviews – many tech giants have shaken up traditional styles of management, exploring more effective ways to manage performance, enhance employee satisfaction and increase employee retention.  

It’s no surprise that tech itself is utilised to enhance management and employee experience. 

Examples of new performance appraisal styles from tech leaders 

Tech giants such as Google and Facebook, and other digital platforms such as Netflix, have taken proactive steps to mix up review management and create an atmosphere that fosters greater communication between manager and employee, relying on constant communication and feedback over hierarchical yearly appraisals. Greater onus is put on two-way conversations rather than the often one-sided focus of more formal reviews. Mutual trust and respect are key to modern management styles, with transparency and effective communication at its heart. This approach is likelier to increase employee satisfaction which has a positive effect on performance. 

New performance review templates include:

  • Continual review 

Many companies now leverage ongoing feedback and reviews, closer to constant appraisals rather than formal sit downs (although many that do so continue these too). This is more about creating a conversation where open and regular communication fosters openness and trust, foreseeing and overcoming any issues as they arise. While some businesses retain the yearly or biannual review these are to cement what has already been discussed throughout the year, preventing any ‘shocks’ from transpiring and eliminating employee nerves. This has the ability to put them on the backfoot and therefore make a negative view of the situation and process more likely. 

  • Adobe performance review example 

Adobe have moved away from yearly appraisals to regular ‘check in’s’, defined by the line manager rather than a fixed, organisational structure. This also focuses less on historic assessment, where an employee might feel chastised, and instead focuses on the current situation and what employees along with their managers can do in the future. It’s about working together. 

  • Establish trust  

Employers should lead the way when it comes to establishing trust. Netflix, for example, banished expenses policies, trusting employees would behave appropriately when it came to expenses.  

Like Adobe, Netflix also switched to more informal, regular reviews. They also incorporate peer feedback rather than relying on the manager-employee dynamic alone. Initially they trialled this anonymously to support their ethos of trust and transparency, then they made these face-to-face. 

An open dialogue is more two-way than a formal sit down which by nature is very hierarchical – closer to an interview situation than a collaborative discussion. The employee can feel on trial with a performance review or appraisal. If they do, they are less likely to trust the process and are less likely to be transparent.

  • Focus on employee experience  

Increasing employee satisfaction is likelier to produce better work performance than an authoritarian management style. Allow employees the chance to regularly feedback their thoughts about management, their own role and performance, how they feel at work and so on. 

Tech companies are leading the way in changing the focus from ‘how can we get the best from you?’ to ‘how can we do the best for you?’. It’s a seemingly small change of mindset but with potentially huge benefits. Focusing on the employee is more likely to make them feel better, and therefore perform better at work. Investing in their wellbeing, training, etc., pays dividends for the business as well as for them. 

  • Utilise technology  

Utilise the software available to help support managers with their reviews, as well as other areas of employee experience and engagement.  

Continual performance management systems allow greater communication and visibility between line manager and employee, allowing them to build shared goals and trajectories, define training needs, share feedback, schedule check ins and so on. They often include a performance review template or performance review example that a manager can use. 

Workflow systems for employees can help them better manage their tasks and time management, enhancing their experience and improving satisfaction at work. Dashboards offer the employee the opportunity to ‘check in’ on how they are feeling – not only does this provide a useful outlet for them to track how they are, it shows they work for a business that cares about this. 

Analytics provide the opportunity to assess work performance in more nuanced ways, offering greater insights into employee performance beyond black and white KPIs.