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Hi David, if you're looking for an inspiring story of how a company can innovate on the performance review process, I think you might like to check out what Australian software company Atlassian has done.
Atlassian not only decided to “rip apart” the obligatory annual time-sink with its dreaded distribution curve, forced rankings, and underwhelming impact—they committed to running their experiment openly and sharing their learnings with the world. Just six months into the process, they offer up a compelling blueprint for a lightweight performance review model built on continuous coaching with a strong basis in the science of motivation and engagement, including monthly one-on-one conversations built around such topics as “Love & Loathe” and “Removing Barriers”.
You can read the full story here (and get in touch with Joris, the HR lead at Atlassian who led these changes): http://www.managementexchange.com/story/atlassians-big-experiment-perfor...
I manage a team of about 25 information security consultants. I don't look at reviews as uninspiring, burdensome, etc. We are scattered to the four corners of North America. None of us work in an office. Reviews are an opportunity not only to connect and discuss performance, but to CONNECT. How are things going? What's working, what's not? Some of the best conversations originate from there. Yes, we need to have a conversation around goals and what's being met, and what's being exceeded, but when done right, I get a ton of constructive information about life from the consultant's perspective, and it's an extremely valuable exercise for me.