Stop Sugarcoating and Start Supporting: TMG Continues its Process with Ditching the Annual Review

Posted by TMG on March 20, 2019 11:46:00 AM

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in on the Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) webcast titled “How do you evaluate and develop employees without performance reviews?” The webcast was a follow-up on a case study by HBR that was created after Deloitte’s-a multinational professional services network- decision to move away from the traditional performance review. This concept directly aligns with TMG’s continuing effort to evaluate how it can best review its employees, while promoting and assisting with their own professional growth and development.

Over the last few years we have evolved the review process, or our version of the review process, creating a model from lessons we have learned as well as what is important to us as a company and the professional development of our team members. The topic of reviews is one that is always trending, with arguments for all sides– the traditional performance review process, the annual review or finding some other pathway, as we chose to do. Along the way, we have picked up insights and best practices that fit our needs. As with all new strategies, some tactics have been successful, and some not as much.

Through the evolution of our performance management system, one thing that has stood out is how easy it is to forget about the managers. Our goal is to have a more real-time development process. That feedback loops are more frequent, and discussion of performance are not reserved for once a year, but for anytime. Great… but that can be hard if the previous standard was that performance discussions were reserved for a once-a-year type of interaction. In this new model it is essential to take the time to train managers on how to provide that feedback and to be comfortable with having candid conversations with their staff.

To assist with this, we have implemented the use of the book Radical Candor. The themes in this book are ones we have always wanted for our office culture but have not been able to outline. The front of the book tells you all you need to know about why this process is great with the first part titled “How to be a kick ass boss without losing your humanity.” Because that’s what we all want, right?

We want both ourselves and our managers to be able to provide direct feedback, challenge our staff to do their best and to care personally. Author Kim Scott defines ruinous empathy as “…what happens when you care but don’t challenge. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugarcoated and unclear.” Fostering this helps no one and creates an environment that is not focused on improving or doing our best work.

We continue to find new ways to improve our performance management and the overall growth of our team. We are looking outward and being open to new ideas and concepts, piecing together what makes sense for our company – Radical Candor and all.

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