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For companies with < 200 employees, especially in tech, is performance & feedback tracking typically seen as mandatory, a big plus, or unnecessary? And when it does exist, what are the most common systems/tools to handle that tracking?

My current company does not yet have anything at all in place for performance reviews, or aggregating informal feedback. I've gotten started on a proposal for how they could get started, and people there seem to agree it could be great for engagement (my original frustration was that I couldn't formalize how excellent my co-worker is in his role). In my research, I've been happy to see that the current trend seems to be away from:

monolithic, annual, highly quantitative pay-focused reviews

towards:

more regular, smaller, and easier chunks of feedback from many places. See GE's current philosophy, a write-up on their app, and this McKinsey analysis on replacing year-end reviews.

There also seem to be some great options to fit this philosophy, that could work for a company of pretty much any size: Lattice, Small Improvements, and Reflektive seem to be good examples. So my question comes down to: if there is a "typical" small tech company in regards to feedback tracking, is it using one of those, something similar, something lower-tech, or like mine: nothing at all?

Edit: Actual range could be anywhere from 10-500 employees; trying to capture those companies that didn't need HR departments originally but have grown to require it, yet institutionalized performance reviews aren't yet seen as mandatory.

closed as too broad by Draken, gnat, Dukeling, Masked Man, scaaahu Jan 26 '18 at 8:50

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I was a little confused by your use of "small" and "<200 employees" - it seems that the US and AU governments have widely different definitions (<1500 employees/US$35 million sales vs <15 employees/AU$2 million turnover) – HorusKol Jan 24 '18 at 21:37
  • That's a fair point; it's a pretty arbitrary number on my part, and there's obviously a wide array of ways to define business sizes. For anyone reading this, I'll clarify & edit that I'm interested in companies large enough to need HR roles, but small enough that institutionalized performance reviews wouldn't seem mandatory. Up to 200 was just based on my personal experiences of the (US) companies I've been with – Jack Koppa Jan 24 '18 at 21:46
  • Apologies for breadth of the question; I'm OK leaving it closed. I've bolded the central question, that I believe the accepted answer did a good job of tackling. Thanks everyone. – Jack Koppa Feb 1 '18 at 15:01
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Proper leadership requires regular feedback to employees. Whether that's weekly, bi weekly, or monthly. This doesn't include yearly evaluations. During this time managers should be setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely).

When I was a manager this was handled with a notebook containing all my direct reports' biweekly forms we filled out for them, which I then used for their yearly evaluations. It doesn't have to be anything specific. But at the very least managers should be meeting with employees on a monthly basis to go over this type of stuff.

The weekly/biweekly/monthly reviews are for short term things. Discuss just the previous x time. The yearly evaluation is more serious, longer, more detailed, and is used for things like promotions and transfers.

IMO any company of any size should be doing this, whether you have 5 employees all together or 500,000

A lot of the stuff discussed in these meetings can be also handled in standups and retrospectives but the individual meetings shouldn't be skipped as that's the time managers should be using to mentor their direct reports and helping them achieve both their goals and the company's goals.

There's tons of software out there. You could write your own. OR you can use paper. How you do it doesn't matter so much as doing it.

Our bi weekly forms had specific KPI's that showed the previous period's numbers, the goal, the current periods numbers, and next periods goal. There was a section for managers to put their feedback down. And for employees to put their response and feedback down as well. As well as a section for the action plan.

Our yearly evaluation was 2 parts. A self evaluation. And one done by your manager that included their responses to your self evaluation. You always give the employee an opportunity to say in their own words how they feel they did for the period especially for yearly evaluations. This way they can highlight some things to you and you as a manager don't forget the biggest thing they did that year (the employee will bring it up in their portion). It's always a good idea to include both what was done well and what needs improvement, both in the managers and the employees words.

Edit: Larger companies do them more to be able to trim the fat when they need to lower numbers. There's some companies that straight up fire the bottom X percent of the company. I don't really like that second approach as I feel that someone that needs to be fired should be fired long before a yearly review. That's one of the big reasons for regular shorter periods of reviews.

Yearly reviews should also generally be reviewed by the managers manager as a sort of checks and balances role.

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    Thank you - this is a very helpful guide for what is being done, and what could be done, at the company sizes I'm looking at. Much appreciated. – Jack Koppa Feb 1 '18 at 14:57
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I think most of the problems with engagement and performance are due to the lack of recognition, opportunities to speak up, clarity on how to grow and fairness in evaluations. Feedback is key for solving that, yet it’s not a part of a daily worklife, since it’s hard to share it. Existing processes, like annual performance reviews, one hundred question surveys and random feedback, are outdated, hardcore and disconnected. So feedback is not shared, lacks context or is forgotten by the time the person is formally evaluated.

I'm certainly biased, but Teambit offers a holistic solution for all of engagement and performance management challenges of a small and medium-sized team. It sends contextual suggestions at the right moment, so that people never forget to share regular feedback. It creates a source of record for all the engagement and performance data over time, so that people can have a holistic understanding of everyone's engagement and performance. It creates a safe, lightweight and fun environment to speak up, so that everyone can quickly and regularly share their thoughts.

All of that leads to a really high adoption among the team, makes feedback a daily habit and empowers your team to be the best it can be.

  • You say you are biased to Teambit, in what way are you biased to them? Do you work for them or with them? Are you using their solutions? Context helps people to make up their minds – Draken Jan 25 '18 at 8:08
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    @Draken I'm one of the co-founders. Happy to personally help you get onboarded. Teambit is a result of years of personal frustrations and research into how to build high performing and engaged teams. – Alex Potrivaev Jan 25 '18 at 10:11
  • Thanks @AlexPotrivaev - up voted, because I think Teambit looks exactly like the type of tool that might work, and definitely seems to have thought about a lot of the issues we're encountering. I'll certainly be looking into it. Accepted a different answer, since it is a bit more widely applicable/relevant. – Jack Koppa Feb 1 '18 at 14:58
  • Thanks Jack! Don't hesitate to reach out when you decide to take a closer look. Will be happy to ensure you folks are successful with it. – Alex Potrivaev Feb 1 '18 at 15:48
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To really get a grasp on what is going on there should be a good tracking/logging system. That way there is a day to day, job to job overview and detail. Then when review time comes around this can be summarised and referenced.

Up to you what software you use, many places make their own simple ones, because for a small company you don't need a hundred bells and whistles to keep some overpaid HR employee looking busy.

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