Performance Reviews vs Engagement Surveys: Two Perspectives…One Conversation


Employee Performance Reviews and Engagement Surveys. Both are traditionally implemented with the over-arching corporate goals to improve employee productivity and drive positive change that impacts the bottom line. We have all been through both HR-led programs, either delivering them or receiving them, in one form or another. But are they truly two different programs and conversations?

To understand the difference between the two, you first need to look at the methods and tools that are used to deploy them in today’s workplace. First, they are typically deployed as separate programs. They have different scoring results, objectives and generate specific conversations and calls-to-action between HR and management. Performance reviews in particular are typically point-in-time programs that focus on beginning and end-of-year perspectives, failing to consider continuously changing employee dynamics. As far as engagement surveys and sporadic pulsing programs go, they are often viewed as a corporate nuisance, yielding more work and little value to the employee. Ultimately, they both fail to capture how employees are feeling or performing on a regular basis — in between reviews and results.

An employee’s job outlook or perspective can change in 24 hours. It DOES change in 24 hours. In fact, while you are reading this blog, you have employee engagement and performance perspectives that are changing due to new leadership, role changes, relocations, mergers, acquisitions…or even personal issues. That is why managers need to establish a framework for week-to-week manager and employee cadence discussions centered on performance and engagement issues – together.

It is only through regular cadence discussions that you can truly stay on top of key indicators that reveal upward or downward movement in performance and engagement trends. Those key indicators need to be objective and measurable to ensure progress and accountability. As a manager, how long should you wait to measure and discuss your employee’s performance and engagement levels? The answer is you shouldn’t wait. Your employees certainly won’t.

In fact, six in 10 millennials say they’re looking for new employment opportunities, according to a recent Gallup poll. The cost of that turnover is estimated to top $30 billion each year and for those who have already quit, 50% attribute their decision to a poor manager relationship.

By establishing a framework that enables performance and engagement feedback to be shared on a regular basis, managers can continuously stay on top of employee productivity and happiness levels. At the same time, they are building the authentic and aligned manager-employee relationship sought after by so many of today’s star performers.

The result? An employee base that knows where they stand and is motivated by a process that demonstrates a genuine care for their opinions and career growth. Not just their scores and results. Ultimately, employees become more productive since they are aligned with priorities and satisfied with the tools, resources and development they receive to be successful in their role.



Want to ensure genuine employee engagement in today’s work environment? It’s time to break traditions.

At the core of every successful company, there is a focus on maintaining an engaged employee base. Fortunately, this is not a new concept, but unfortunately not much has significantly changed in the solutions or their approaches for quite some time.

Over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to lead many great teams spanning multiple functions. Many of the engagement and performance management tools that were made available to me took a top-down approach and felt more like extra work for my team. At the end of the day, the tools provided and the associated conversations were not frequent enough, actionable or meaningful. The attempt to address the frequency issue with pulsing survey tools has only created more frustration for managers and employees with more nuisance, one-off questions that never seem to drive true change or action. The results of the programs were not much more than a score or a rating and the impact was minimal. In addition, none of the programs considered the socially diverse perspectives and unique needs of each team member. Everyone was viewed as part of a bigger picture, rather than as an individual with their own specific engagement levers and social requirements.

A consistent theme among today’s top-performing organizations that make all the annual “best place to work” lists is the commitment to find innovative ways to improve employee engagement. In order to make the right changes that will truly make a difference with employee engagement, three things have to happen:

  • The tool or program must directly support and benefit the day-to-day manager-employee meetings and discussions to stay aligned on what matters most on a regular basis.
  • The tool must monitor and measure BOTH engagement and performance together, due to the influence each has on the other’s results.
  • The tool or program must also consider the socially-diverse needs and perspectives of each employee and manager.

A truly successful approach to employee engagement actually starts with managers improving how they engage with their employees. How is this accomplished? By establishing an effective manager and team meeting cadence that fosters more meaningful performance and engagement discussions. When a manager and employee can easily and regularly share performance and engagement feedback…priorities, goals and objectives will naturally be more aligned. Throw in the ability to understand each team member’s social preferences and motivators, then you are well on your way to getting your employees on the same page with job expectations and employee needs.

I spent much of my career without a tool that captured and measured performance and engagement indicators on a regular basis. Work circumstances and environments can change for any given employee within 24 hours…and can have a significant impact on happiness and productivity. In addition, I also found myself relating to some employees and not others. Over time, I realized there is no right or wrong, only different perceptions. And those differences in perceptions also had a dramatic impact on employee engagement and performance results, especially when they were between a manager and employee.

Want to learn more about Chyme and how our Manager & Team Cadence Tool can help you easily improve engagement, performance and employee relations across your organization? Visit or stop by the Chyme Kiosk in the Sea Crest lobby at the NEHRA Fall Conference in Falmouth next week!