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A Holistic Approach to Performance Reviews

What comes to mind when you think of annual performance reviews? Dread? Cold chills? Past performance review processes combined high-stakes conversations and ratings. The result is a process that both managers and employees fear – clearly not the desired outcome. In fact, 53% of employees do not believe performance reviews motivate them to work harder. HR professionals are questioning and changing the way companies measure employee success and communicate both positive and negative feedback. Today organizations are improving the performance review process by taking a holistic approach.

A Holistic Approach to Employee Performance Reviews

What are new trends in the performance review process?

The annual performance review process is evolving. And when you ask employees what they want, 42% want feedback from their managers every week. To meet the needs of their employees some companies have begun  delivering more frequent and immediate feedback. Others are combining old and new practices by keeping extensive annual performance reviews while also providing ongoing, continuous assessments. Some companies are doing away with ratings or simplifying their ratings to indicate only if employee performance is “fit” or “not fit.” Bringing together new and old practices can create a complete and more balanced view of employee performance.


What tools and methods are best for holistic performance reviews?

How can organizations adopt a holistic approach to performance reviews? What tools and methods for evaluating performance work best? Here are questions to consider when moving to a holistic approach to performance:

  1. What are your organization’s key values and goals? Consider aligning performance metrics to support those goals.
  2. What metrics will affect positive change? Do metrics focus on customer service? Collaboration? Financial results? Focus assessment on the metrics that will make the biggest impact.
  3. What tools are available? Develop web-based tools for tracking each step of the process: reviews, ratings, compensation recommendations, and succession and development plans.
  4. How can feedback become part of company culture? Make continuous feedback part of project or department goals. Encourage both in-the-moment praise as well as recommendations for improvement.


At SumTotal, we’ve seen that when managers go beyond simply recommending areas for improvement and employees have access to the learning and content they need to fill those skill gaps, the odds performance will improve increases significantly. Telling employees they need to get better isn’t enough—organizations need to provide the resources that enable them to do so.


Learn more about holistic performance reviews.

Best-in-class companies are using holistic approaches to evaluate employee performance. Many are moving away from the high-stakes ratings and annual conversations and making the overall process more user-friendly for managers and employees. Encouraging immediate feedback and open communication can help transform the review process so that performance evaluation becomes part of company culture and daily activity. Take the anxiety and sweaty palms out of the performance review process and improve business results using a holistic approach.

Download this industry insight to learn how successful organizations are using holistic performance reviews to improve business outcomes.

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