In Lean companies, we talk frequently about how batching is bad and flow is good. And yet, nearly every company batches its performance reviews into an annual evaluation.
The irony is thick. Those very evaluations—the ones containing 365 days of observations—may critique a Lean leader on how well he was able to reduce lot sizes.
The problem with an annual evaluation is that there is no chance for an employee to correct course along the way. Plus the quality can be horrible. The events of later in the year—the ones freshest in memory—carry more weight than the ones that happened right after the previous annual review. Specific data can be hard to determine after the fact. And some observations may just be downright wrong, but they happened so long ago there is no chance to clarify what was going on.
Of course, just like in a flow production system, a flow evaluation system takes work and infrastructure to set up and commitment to maintain. I challenge you to try to break this model of the annual review, and give team members feedback in smaller lots—semi-annually, quarterly, monthly, or even daily.
Now, I’m a realist. I really don’t think most managers have the clout to completely overhaul a corporate system. They are unlikely to eliminate the requirement to deliver an annual review to their employees. But they certainly have the power to change the processes they use along the way.
This is one of the chances a manager has to really ‘walk the talk’ about Lean.