Written by Kronos Summer Intern, Megan Grenier. Megan is an intern with our mid-market marketing team and our Gen Z insider. She’s returning to Saint Anselm College this fall where she’s studying communications.
As I said in my first post of my 123's of XYZ series, communicating cross-generationally can be a challenge, but the water gets even murkier when it comes to performance management. Although I haven’t been in the workforce for long, its apparent that performance management is something everyone dreads. For the younger generations just entering the workforce like me, the concept of performance management seems ambiguous. Why do I have to anxiously await a whole year for my performance appraisal? How can I improve when I only receive feedback once a year? How can my manager give me an accurate evaluation when an entire year has passed? In my post today, I’m going to answer these questions for the younger generations and make performance management seem a little less scary.
1) Why do I have to wait the entire year?
Perhaps the most frightening thing about annual performance appraisals is you have to wait the entire year. It’s not that you have to wait the whole year, it’s that your performance review is about all the things you could’ve done wrong in the entire year. It can be scary going into a meeting when you have no idea what to expect, especially when you haven’t received much feedback throughout the year. During my interviews for this series, I asked a fellow intern about performance expectations, she told me, “as someone who’s new I don’t know whether I’m on the right track or doing something wrong. I wish there was a place online where my manager could post comments about my work. I need that feedback from my manager, so I know I’m doing what he wants.”
Nowadays everything can be accessed online. Members of Generation Z and millennials love the ease of online applications, and Baby Boomers and Generation X are hopping on this bandwagon as well. Performance management tools provide employees with an online forum where their supervisor can deliver ongoing feedback, while helping to eradicate the sometimes tedious, paper-based forms of performance reviews. Performance management tools also engage us in the process by incorporating what us younger generations love: technology. These online applications allow employees to access their supervisors' comments instantaneously, helping to foster transparency and support communication so employees feel valued. Now, employees don’t have to wait and wonder if they’re doing something wrong, they can quickly access their performance review profile to view their managers comments.
2) How can I improve?
I haven’t been through a formal performance review yet, but my coworkers have told me that the yearly performance review doesn’t allow for much improvement. One study found that giving feedback is essential to learning, and since performance appraisals are only once a year, employees aren’t learning as much as they could. Having ongoing performance conversations allows managers to provide feedback in real-time, so employees can adapt in the moment. This real-time feedback allows employees to evolve while it’s happening, so they can improve gradually overtime rather than waiting for that yearly performance review when it’s almost too late.
3) How will my evaluation be accurate?
Although technology tools create a forum to deliver ongoing feedback, how accurate can an annual performance review be? It’s impossible to remember every good and bad thing that an employee has done over the course of the year. Now, technology creates a thread of information that can be accessed at any time. This allows for managers to be able to look back at an individual’s work for the entire year. Not only they access a record of an employee's work, but it can also show the goals created when an employee was first hired. In my previous blog I discussed how setting goals can help employees understand their role in a company, but it also assists managers with annual performance appraisals. By defining goals at the beginning of an employees’ time at an organization, supervisors can use technology to access these goals later. Now, managers can look back at all the work an employee has done, so when that yearly performance appraisal rolls around employees can feel confident in themselves and the accuracy of their review because it’s documented. Both the manager and the employee can see how the employee has evolved.
Overall, it’s understandable that performance reviews can be a frightening employee experience for the younger generations just entering the workforce. But have no fear, your manager is not a vicious shark trying to bite off your leg, all they’re trying to do is help give you relevant feedback to improve. Hopefully now, performance management seems a little less intimidating.
That’s if for my series the 123's of XYZ! Hopefully you’ve learned as much from my experience researching the implications of a multigenerational workforce on communication in the workplace as I did! Don’t forget to check out the Gen Z perspective on communication, and the 3 keys to onboarding Gen Z, millennials and beyond. As my summer internship at Kronos comes to an end, I’m sad to leave such a wonderful company, but so thankful for all the opportunities this internship has presented me. This experience will help me make the transition into work life after I finish college.