Take the drag out of performance reviews with customized interview cycle

Author: Floor Hendriks | Published on: Wednesday 2 August 2023 | Last updated on: Wednesday 23 August 2023

Many companies want to modernize the interview cycle with employees. Especially the classic appraisal interviews have become a “drag” and are proving ineffective for personal growth and team development. The conversations should be more flexible, simpler and more tailored. The desire and will are there, but actually doing it is often put off for a while. Mainly because the right tool is lacking for HRM, managers and employees. A complete online development environment offers a solution.

Old approach is useless and demotivating

The old assessment interview and performance interview no longer work. Many studies in recent years have shown that the traditional cycle of ‘performance and assessment’ is demotivating and even counterproductive. The Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam conducted seven years of research. An important conclusion: employees and managers alike find the traditional appraisal interviews pointless: a waste of time and money. And they also find it demotivating and unfair. The latter because many other factors also play a role in the assessment. Researcher Kilian Wawoe therefore argues in his book “The New Reward” for the abolition of the “judgment call. And for a better and modern interview cycle: more effective, fairer, smoother, with two-way conversations and preferably more continuous conversations between manager and employee.

Annoyance in modern work environment

Many companies want to make the switch, but also regularly keep putting it off for “another year. Because how do you make the change in practice? And the lack of the right tools is often still seen as a ‘barrier’. To be on the safe side, they prefer to stick with the old system ‘for a while’ because it is transparent and everyone knows it. To the annoyance of employees and managers.
Because the old interview cycle – which has been around for decades – is really no longer tenable, development expert and education expert Annet van Duren also argues. “The traditional interview cycle is actually always a disappointment. Employees experience it more as a judgment call and go back to work demotivated.” She also advocates a modern interview cycle based on development-oriented conversations.

The old traditional approach also no longer suits today’s faster and more flexible work environment. Objectives are often set in January to assess in December whether an employee has met them. This does not take into account the challenges and complexities of the job. Then by February or March, the goals are often outdated.

More often a short conversation

In a modern appraisal cycle without the old rut of imposed appraisals, employees themselves can also be given a greater role. Both within the assessment system and in directing their own development, advocates expert Jacco van den Berg in his book The New Assessment. “Let them think about their own development. When setting goals, you can ask what contribution they think they themselves will make in the coming assessment period.” This can be done, for example, in a planning meeting at the beginning of a year, but also at other times.
The author also advocates more assessment moments. “A continuous dialogue is better. Not finishing that obligatory ritual once a year, but regular short powerful conversations in which you look ahead. Of course, it’s very strange for an employee to be told only after six months or a year that something is not going well. If you have short conversations about someone’s role more often, they can improve faster.” In modernizing the appraisal and interview cycle, many organizations are betting on more ongoing coaching of employees with motivating and targeted feedback for their development. In other words, no appraisal interview because it is required by ‘the boss’, but from autonomous motives: because employees themselves want it and also experience the usefulness themselves.

One flexible development platform

This desired more contemporary approach does require a new “development system” that properly facilitates the intended simplicity, flexibility and personal customization. Preferably one platform on which all actions, documents, achievements and reports are conveniently bundled. And, if possible, with an online dashboard that provides (real-time) insight into the performance of employees and the organization. Modern online tools make this possible, such as Hrmforce Development. This acts as one complete and efficient solution for facilitating individual and team development and (team) performance. A complete set of tools for HRM, managers and employees that allows them to set up a customized development process.

Users use it to manage (interim) reviews and other conversations and, for example, to work with competency models. They can use it to generate individual development plans, analyze strengths and weaknesses or organize 90 or 360 degree feedback, for example. So with such a complete environment, the “lack of a technical tool” need no longer be an obstacle.

Breaking new ground

So with this approach, organizations can really break new ground with their interview cycle and appraisals. It also opens new doors for the organization, employees and managers. It is then mainly a matter of choosing how to deploy the new approach. This can be done in phases by starting simply. Additional features can then be added over time. This, of course, depends on your organizational goals and organizational developments.

You can also go quite “far” in this. A good example is the IT company Computest. This self-managing organization with about a hundred employees let go of the traditional assessment interviews. Here, colleagues within the various teams started assessing each other. The organization did its own research into how their people best give and receive feedback among themselves. In one-on-one meetings, people appeared to be more nervous and defensive when negative feedback was given. “A conversation with a colleague gives more air to say what you really think about it. We also talk mainly about what is going well and what we appreciate about each other, something you don’t usually do on a daily basis,” Computest founder Hartger Ruijs said in his explanation.

Involving customers in employee assessment

If you want to go even further, you can also give customers a role in the assessment of employees, as is regularly done with 360-degree feedback. Brabant-based engineering firm Coenradie went one step further and linked employee performance directly to customer satisfaction. From this agency, 50 employees around the world provide measurement solutions in various industries. Measuring their own customer satisfaction ensures that services can be continuously optimized.
The results are shared internally, but in a loose way and from team performance. The results are displayed internally real-time and uncensored on the home page of the intranet environment. If a customer wants, with the sender included. Employees can respond to it internally. And if necessary, they contact the customer directly. Customer satisfaction increases as a result, and employees get a bonus for every time a customer gives the number 10. And that’s happening more and more often. “The average customer rating also increases over time. We now know how satisfied customers are with each project and why. If necessary, we can take immediate action and clients appreciate that,” says director Wouter Coenradie.

You don’t have to go that far as an organization, of course. A modern appraisal cycle must above all be supported by a platform that facilitates the desired flexibility and customization around the interviews. Especially if these become more short coaching conversations.

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Floor Hendriks

Floor has extensive experience in advising and implementing (online) HR tools and services. For over a decade, he has specialized in leveraging online assessments and tools for talent management challenges in the HR cycle with the aim of increasing employee and organizational performance.