For the last 10 years, technology giant IBM has been operating an annual-based performance review process that will be familiar to most organisations — setting of objectives in January, an interim review mid-way through the year and then an appraisal meeting in December culminating in a single performance score.
Last year it decided to follow in the footsteps of many other well known organisations such as Microsoft, Accenture and General Electric and undertake a complete overhaul of its performance management system. That revamp is now complete and its new system called “Checkpoint” has just gone live.
Like most other organisations who have moved away from an annual approach, IBM’s new performance management process involves setting shorter term objectives and getting regular feedback throughout the year.
In an interview with Fortune Magazine, Diane Gherson, IBM’s Chief Human Resources Officer said that during the year, “new things would come along” meaning that employees would often no longer be working towards their original annual objectives. Yet they would end up in an “irrelevant discussion” in December trying to assess whether they’d achieved those goals they’d created 11 months earlier.
When deciding what to do differently, IBM took a novel approach and internally crowdsourced feedback from its 360,000 employees. They received 2,000 responses from which the conclusion was that employees wanted more frequent feedback. They also didn’t want a single performance rating with relative rankings, nor did they want a self-assessment process.
So IBM’s new process ensures that employees get feedback at least every quarter. They have also dropped their single performance score and replaced it with an assessment against five criteria — business results, impact on client success, innovation, personal responsibility to others, and skills. “In the old system, there was one score. People [got] sort of obsessed by that,” Gherson said. “In the new system, there are five scores. It leads to a much richer, more balanced discussion.”
Being a large technology company, IBM built its own app to help facilitate its new “Checkpoint” process. However, most organisations don’t have vast in-house technical resources like IBM and most performance management systems are still based around an annual cycle. That’s why we built our Clear Review app. Now any organisation can move to a year-round approach to performance management with regular check-ins and real-time feedback using Clear Review.