There Is Definitely a Way to Overhaul Performance Reviews for Federal Workers

As federal leaders approach the end of the calendar year, many are preparing for their employees' annual performance reviews. Time-consuming, heavily regulated and often unsatisfying, evaluations have been the subject of many recent headlines as big companies like General Electric, Accenture and Deloitte have started to phase them out. That's left some government leaders asking, "Can we kill the performance reviews in the federal government?"

In government, of course, change is not so easy. Federal agencies are required to perform annual reviews using a five-point rating system, unless they have been given special authority to develop an alternative system. There's no changing the system at the whim of a Cabinet secretary, as is the case with a CEO. Adjusting the formal rules and regulations of the federal government's performance management system would require an act of Congress, quite literally.

That's probably all right, however, because the reality is that to mimic the changes these companies are initiating wouldn't require an official overhaul.

These private-sector organizations are shifting their focus away from once-a-year reviews to more frequent, real-time feedback conversations that leaders hope will result in improved employee engagement and performance. Most likely, leaders will be spending as much if not more time meeting with employees to deliver feedback. In fact, companies like GE are developing smartphone apps to facilitate ongoing, instant performance feedback between supervisors and employees.

This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.