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Flash Performance Reviews: It's Probably Time...

I know. You were all in on the trendy call to kill the performance review.  Then a funny thing happened - nobody had a better idea of what to do after the ugly beast was killed.

When you think about the problem, the right solution lies at the intersection of these two realities:

1. Employees want and/or deserve to know how they are doing.  Good things result when this feedback is provided in the right way. Thumbs-up

2. Most managers of people avoid performance reviews like it's a cold sore on a person they were thinking about kissing.  Maybe they're not comfortable with giving feedback, maybe they're stretched on time, etc.  Whatever the reason, avoidance is in full bloom.

What's a possible solution?  I'm going to grab onto something that's been in play in the engagement industry - flash polling and surveys on engagement.  If you've ever seen this, flash surveys ask for smaller bits of information on a more frequent basis.  The caveman version of this can even be the employee picking a happy face or a sad face.  Interesting, right?

When you think about performance management, I'm not sure the time hasn't come to replace the deeper performance review with a flash survey, completed monthly.  Here's how it works in my eyes.

1. I have 10 direct reports?  Great, I get 10 emails spread out in a month reminding me I have a flash review due to the employee.

2. Each flash review asks me the rate the employee on a predetermined scale for both job performance and organizational fit. I have to give at least 100 words defending my rating on both, and I have to give at least 50 words telling the employee what they can do in the coming month to raise the rating.

3. Once a baseline is established, every other month I don't even have to rate them - I just pick an "up" or "down" arrow to tell them which way they're trending.  I still have to provide the backup via the 100/50 word description of why on job performance and organizational fit though.

4. My internet access on my laptop shuts down if I don't complete the task in 24 hours.  It stays off until I submit the feedback (that's the only page that works once shut down).

5. My direct report automatically gets the feedback via email.

6. I get a reminder as soon as I submit it that I need to briefly cover the review with the employee.  

7.  My employee gets an email ping 48 hours after asking if I have covered it with them.  If I haven't, my internet on my laptop goes down again.  The employee has to go back in to that email and "re-select" that I did talk to them about it to unfreeze my internet.

I'm thinking everyone involved would get more done. More feedback as well.

Flash performance review driven by technology.  And blocked Internet.  Problem solved.



I really like this idea (especially the shutting the Internet off part!).

My company is primarily contractors, so we do something similar to where they can't get paid until they've given us feedback on how their last 2 weeks went (with specific questions posed to them as their reporting their hours in an app we built), and our team managers can't login to their accounts until the feedback is provided. Works well!

Paul Hebert

How about we just have managers have a few conversations with their staff? Why does everything today have to be automated and digitized. A cup of coffee and an update would do exactly what a "flash survey" would and do it better.

There flash surveys/pulse surveys are going to be the worst thing for employee engagement and management - I wrote about it here:

Try managing your own personal relationships on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, constantly reacting to the most recent up or down of the other person. Doesn't work.

I'm all about having manager spend time with their poeple vs. the people spending time with their computers.

Jon Windust

Apart from training leaders how to be leaders, to me the important improvements will come with more frequent one-on-one check-in conversations. This is similar to your flash reviews in terms of frequency.

We are actually seeing this as a gradual trend that has been developing over the last five years. See

Perhaps the incentive (or consequence) should occur when the senior leader regularly checks-in with their managers. If one of the discussion points is team performance (which it most definitely should be) and how one-on-ones are being done, this will encourage the right behavior.

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