From “Performance Reviews” to “Check-ins”: Why it’s More Than Just a Name Change

From “Performance Reviews” to “Check-ins”: Why it’s More Than Just a Name Change

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Industry jargon can become confusing when someone throws a new word into the mix. 

If you’ve heard fellow managers tossing around the term “performance check-ins” you might just think they’re trying to sound more relevant in changing times. However, there’s more to performance check-ins than a new term for performance reviews. 

In fact, they’re actually two very different things. It’s a good idea to illustrate the difference between the two to help determine where each falls into your team member assessment and career planning routine.

What is the Difference Between Performance Check-ins and Performance Reviews?

The difference mainly lies in the priorities each addresses. 

Whereas performance reviews are manager-led or top-down, performance check-ins, when done correctly, are team member-led or bottom-up. 

A performance check-in is all about creating a more casual and less structured approach to team member feedback and career goal setting, with the priority focused on creating an ongoing dialogue between you and your team. There is also a difference in the frequency of scheduled meetings, with check-ins occurring more frequently than performance reviews, which are often annual. 

For example, a check-in might be scheduled quarterly, bi-monthly or monthly. However, they can also be scheduled should a team member be working on a special project, require mentoring, or have specific issues. 

You can also plan check-ins based on tenure with new team members, starting with daily check-ins, then weekly check-ins, and eventually progressing to less frequent meetings.

What Inspired Check-in Reviews?

Check-ins were developed to replace outdated performance reviews. 

Because the annual performance review was so structured and paperwork intense, it became a chore that managers dreaded and a nerve-wracking experience for team members who were unfamiliar with manager interaction. Reviews can also feel disingenuous, as they tend to be manager-centric, focusing on what the manager wants as opposed to the employee’s career goals and ongoing development. This can lead to team member dissatisfaction and increase team member churn.  

Check-ins, on the other hand, create an ongoing dialogue so teams develop trusting relationships with managers and learn to feel more comfortable with each discussion. As a result, they help mentor teams, enhance performance, and improve team member retention.

Why are Performance Check-ins Important?

Check-ins help improve communication with open-door policies that invite teams to engage with their managers in meaningful ways.

For example, if a team member has taken on a new project, having a check-in following the project provides an opportunity to discuss how they found the project, where they felt they were successful, and where they felt they could have used a bit more input. 

Another example might be a training plan where scheduled check-ins ensure the team member is  meeting their goals, is empowered to succeed, and develops a strong relationship with their new manager.

Tips for Effective Check-in Reviews

Some tips to introduce check-in reviews into your coaching and management strategies include:

  • Keep things relatively focused on sharing feedback, discussing team member skills development and acknowledging accomplishments.
  • Ensure team members feel empowered to inspire improved performance and enhance future check-in experiences.
  • Include specific references to current work and projects and look for coaching opportunities to address those points.
  • Avoid using check-ins as an excuse to micromanage team members.
  • Don’t overdo it to the point where teams feel hassled and find the conversations becoming repetitive or, worse, pointless.
  • Make sure managers don’t do all the talking so team members feel heard and that their accomplishments are acknowledged.
  • Consider introducing team member check-ins as part of the new hire experience to get firsthand input to help measure their experience.

Whether you are a business owner or HR manager, adopting a check-in review process helps management establish a rapport with their teams based on company culture. You can either replace performance reviews or use check-ins to enhance your assessment process, fostering management/team member relationships and facilitating growth.

About Focus HR, Inc.

Focus HR, Inc. uncomplicates the people side of business by providing small business owners with outsourced HR, project HR, and Leadership Coaching. For more information, please contact us today! If you liked this post, please subscribe to our blog. You can opt out at any time. 

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