Why Talent Review is Key for Unbiased Performance Reviews

Why Talent Review is Key for Unbiased Performance Reviews

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Are your organization’s performance conversations actually reflecting employee performance? With a whopping 88% of business leaders saying the time they put into performance management serves no real purpose, it’s clear that something needs to change. The missing link? The talent review.

Today, a new wave of innovative HR leaders is reinventing the performance conversations review by embracing an emphasis on continuous employee success. This allows them to collect insights about employees’ performance in new ways — transforming the dangerously outdated annual performance review into a process that truly reflects and champions people’s potential.

Sound like a mouthful? Let’s break it down.

What is a talent review?

Talent review is the conversation that happens between management, leadership, and HR about an employee’s success, and potential, before the manager’s next Check-In conversation with them employee.

In a talent review, leadership teams and HR leaders come together to identify ​high performers, people with high potential, and talent gaps. By painting a comprehensive picture of performance and potential, evaluators can see clearly whether an individual is plugging along steadily as a solid contributor, is ready for a promotion, in need of development opportunities, or isn’t thriving in the role they’re in.

(P.S. We break this down further in our article on using the 9-box framework for talent reviews. 📄)

Talent reviews allow senior leaders and human resources staff to continually evaluate the state of their talent pool and the bench strength of the organization before the next round of performance conversations with employees. The end result? A better-calibrated, higher-functioning team that achieves enormous personal success and best-in-class business performance

A successful talent review process is:

  • data-driven
  • conducted collaboratively among HR professionals and senior executives
  • scheduled consistently
  • provides a structured, fact-based format for productive conversations that lead to development plans.

Talent reviews hold managers accountable for answering the question: “How well do your know your team members strengths, weaknesses, and dreams for the future?” (Because they should.)

Need tips? Read:
How to Have a Talent Review, in 4 Steps

How talent review fits into your- continuous employee success program

Talent reviews may take place among leaders, but they fall under the umbrella of continuous employee success along with employee-facing Goals & Feedback, plenty of Recognition & Rewards, and frequent Survey & Insights.

At its most effective, a continuous employee success program flows like this:

Continuous performance management model -- linear view, showing recognition and feedback feeding into sync-ups, feeding into check-insCalendar view of continuous performance management, demonstrating frequency of check-ins, sync-ups and feedback

  • daily recognition and frequent feedback (whether it be from a manager or peer-to-peer or the CEO) which informs
  • weekly 1-on-1 Sync-Ups between managers and team members, which informs
  • quarterly performance Check-ins between managers and team members
  • which are supported by…
  • employee surveys that reveal leadership, development and growth, and unconscious bias insights, to name a few, which shape… talent reviews that objectively and proactively recalibrate teams. It’s a process informed by a culture that amplifies and incentivize key values and behaviors supports employee success through alignment, and listens to employees across the entire employee lifecycle


How talent review transforms performance conversations

Here are 3 ways that incorporating talent reviews into your continuous performance management cycle can mitigate inherent biases too often found in conventional practices:

1. Talent reviews require multiple data sources

A manager’s “gut feeling” about a person isn’t a reliable metric. Hard data is. When done well, talent reviews provide multiple points of feedback from multiple evaluators, documented progress on goals, and insights from previous performance conversations. Those multiple points of feedback help provide objective data points. And that protects against the two types of bias most prevalent in traditional performance reviews proximity bias (favoring someone because we see them more often than others, or their work is more visible) and similarity bias (favoring someone because they remind us of ourselves).

2. Talent reviews standardize evaluations

Not all managers approach employee evaluations in the same way. Some are naturally more critical. Others generously offer glowing praise. A well executed talent review process brings multiple voices together in an effort to calibrate standards company-wide. This equips all managers with a balanced, documented gameplan before heading into performance conversations. 

3. Talent reviews drive accountability

A well-run talent review generates extensive conversation around the evaluation. Managers can’t just give someone a rating or ranking with no supporting reasons why (also known as “blank box bias”). Instead, the conversations and questions of the talent review encourage managers to justify and examine all employee ratings.

New to the 9-box? Read:
How to Do Employee Talent Review Using the 9-Box

Talent reviews accomplish:

  • Less-biased feedback. Feedback should be both given and received in spontaneous and systematic ways with the goal of growing a feedback culture. Talent reviews are a fantastic tool for encouraging feedback about employees laterally between managers and senior leadership. Performance conversations provide a place for feedback between business leaders and their direct reports that support future leadership development.
  • Goals alignment. Whether you’re using business based OKRs or SMART goals, tracking KPIs, or using another favorite goal-setting system, talent reviews can help managers keep employee goals aligned with overall organizational goals. Then, performance conversations keeps everyone accountable to those predetermined business goals, as well as the competencies required to set and meet new goals.
  • Opportunities for recognition. Talent reviews offer a great opportunity to recognize employees who are progressing within the organization. That may include a social shout out, an experiential reward, or even a promotion. Ultimately, regular Recognition & Rewards fuel employee engagement and retention, making it much more likely that new talent will stick around long enough to turn into top talent.

It’s all about alignment. When talent reviews and performance conversations work in tandem, using multiple perspectives and an emphasis on data, leaders are able to arrive at objective evaluations that result in individual, team; and organizational growth.

Facilitate talent reviews with WorkTango

We hope this article helps center talent reviews at the heart of your employee success strategy. And if you want to learn more about running a successful talent review, let’s talk.

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