Business excellence, with love

Renee Carter

Gallop surveys found that annual reviews are no longer motivating employees to improve. In fact, only 14% of respondents said that they feel moved by the standard. Companies such as Cargill and Adobe have eliminated annual formal performance reviews all together and have decided to invest their time in the more authentic one-to-one approach of daily, frequent and short discussions. In addition, they have removed ratings to sweeten the pot. Cargill has decided that building relationships is more essential to the growth of their employees than a number system to calculate performance.  

It's time to lead with love

Although General Electric maintains their annual performance review, they have implemented technology so that they can focus more on the daily interaction and feedback between employees and leaders rather than placing emphasis on annual evaluations. This takes the stress and element of surprise out of their work assessments, making the annual review a simple formality. Google’s authentic approach separates money and evaluation intentionally by way of time. Literally, discussions about money and evaluation takes place one month apart. Their approach intensifies the learning process by redirecting the focus away from extrinsic rewards to motivate growth. 

Facebook, Adobe and Netflix were all generous by spilling their secrets to extending love and kindness to their employees. Looking at the different approaches, I think we will understand. Facebook calibrates their employees’ evaluations by discussing them as a group. Calibration elevates bias and demonstrates a respect for leaders who may evaluate as outliers of the average (too harsh or too lenient). Adobe reinforces change by demonstrating it from the top down; in which leaders and employees all have the same expectations.

And rather than focusing solely on performance that’s already taken place leaders, at Adobe, place more emphasis on growth and development, specifically engaging in discussions relative to promotion and professional growth and development. Netflix uses performance reviews as opportunities to collaborate staff goals with company goals and to gain perspective on how the collaboration can fit into the culture of the company of as a whole; essentially, demonstrating team work between leaders and their staff. 

Performance excellence can be tricky and uncomfortable to say the least. But, inviting your team to have input in the process eliminates some of those barriers. IBM demonstrates this interdisciplinary collaborative effort by seeking input from the people who are affected the most. They took a more collective approach by using social media to ask their 380,000 employees over 170 countries what they felt was the most effective ways to evaluate employee performance. And they listened. Employee responses resulted in IBM’s removal of the process where leaders stack employees against other employees essentially rating and ranking them, forcing uncomfortable and divisive competition. 

Love is driving performance, no matter if business leaders want to believe it or not. The companies that are well-positioned to win the war of talent, are ensuring that they love on their teams by listening to them, valuing their input, and demonstrating through their actions that a "people first," loving culture is a sure-fire way to achieve business excellence.