Seven Ways to Modernize Performance Reviews 

performance appraisal stars smiles finger
By Wendy Sheaffer

4 minutes

Regular feedback and coaching are far more impactful than one big meeting a year.

Sponsored by The Omnia Group

If a performance review doesn’t make an impact, does it even matter that it happened? It’s fair to say that performance reviews don’t have the best reputation with managers or employees. 

Employees hate them because the process either doesn’t feel organized and consistent or is so rigid that it’s clear it’s just something to mark off the compliance checklist. If managers are winging it or simply going through the required motions, employees know it. 

Also, performance reviews can feel like an antiquated process. Surely, there’s a better way. 

Performance Appraisals Add Value

Performance reviews, done right, are an integral part of employee management within the credit union. As a manager, it’s your job to inspire, motivate and develop your employees. It can feel like a tall order for sure, but it doesn’t have to be. Forget about checking items off a standardized form, which is unfulfilling for both sides and unhelpful to the organization. We suggest the following ways to modernize the performance review process. 

  1. Provide continuous feedback. Drop the annual performance reviews in favor of regular, continuous feedback throughout the whole year. One evaluation a year doesn’t give employees the opportunity to work on items as needed. A problem in Q1 can feel like a distant memory in Q4. Continuous feedback allows for more timely, actionable conversations so that performance liabilities can be addressed quickly before they become even bigger issues. And on a positive note, strengths and interests can be further capitalized on. 
  2. Focus on development. Rather than evaluating the past, the focus should be on goal-setting for the future and on personalized career development, something that research shows employees crave. This makes the process feel positive rather than like a list of faults to improve. 
  3. Ask for self-evaluations. Have employees fill out a review on themselves including setting future goals. Along with giving the employee some ownership of the process, it shows the manager what they are thinking. It’s helpful to know whether you are on the same page, opens meaningful discussion points and facilitates closing any gaps. 
  4. Encourage two-way dialogue. Make sure the process is a two-way conversation in which both the manager and employee express themselves and come up with an action plan together. Doing performance appraisals this way promotes buy-in and action. 
  5. Go digital. Be sure you are using technology to your advantage. Automate the review process to make it more efficient. For example, there are performance management tools for tracking goals, taking notes for the meeting and storing data. Also, if your employee is remote and the review is not face-to-face, use video.  
  6. Collect 360-degree feedback. Get input from a variety of sources to give the employee truly well-rounded feedback. You can get feedback from other managers, peers and any direct reports who work or interact with the employee. 
  7. Be transparent. The process needs to promote honest, open communication and be a process that’s transparent, fair and equitable to all employees. 

Coach for Success

As part of the continuous feedback process, use coaching techniques to work with employees throughout the year. During these sessions, you’ll work with individual team members on developing their strengths and improving on challenge areas. 

Each employee should know where they stand and how they are measuring up to the expectations set in any formal review documentation. These might be weekly or monthly coaching sessions, depending on the employee. Weekly might work best for newer employees and monthly for more tenured staff.

As a coach, be sure you are clear, empathetic and a great listener. Provide positive reinforcement and lead by example. Celebrate successes; don’t just focus on the things that need improvement.

Know Each Member of Your Team 

Your most powerful tool is knowing the inherent motivators, communication style, and work preferences of each employee on your team. You can use a behavioral assessment such as the one from Omnia, that provides a clear, helpful, practical guide to an employee’s level of assertiveness, their need for social interaction, their pace and their reliance on structure. With this data, you can communicate and inspire each employee on an individualized level. 

Remember, regular feedback and coaching are far more impactful than one big meeting a year. Be a culture of continuous dialogue so you can develop and retain top credit union talent. 

Wendy Sheaffer is chief product officer at CUES Supplier member The Omnia Group, an employee assessment firm providing the power of behavioral insight to help organizations make successful hires and develop exceptional employees. Sheaffer is a subject matter expert in using Omnia’s 8 columns as a tool to make informed hiring and development decisions and effectively engage staff. She works directly with clients and Omnia staff to provide a deeper understanding of how to use personality data to meet business goals. Email us at or call 800.525.7117. 

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