The Economist released an article recently that makes a pretty bold claim: performance reviews will either completely go away, or they’ll be replaced with machines. This claim basically makes the job of the middle manager – the person whose job it is to check up on people and judge how they’re doing – completely pointless. The tenets of old school management styles are going away.


With the ongoing fear of machines eventually taking over the workplace, it’s important to get ahead of these changes and protect yourself, your people, and your company from large changes. Large companies, like Deloitte and Accenture, did away with annual performance reviews in 2015 after determining nearly 2 million hours were spent on performance review processes for only 65,000 people.


From my first hand experience, these evaluations are often an afterthought with managers, and parameters are often defined by objective corporate speak. These two facts alone leave a business-minded person like me to ask the ever-dreaded question, “Why?”


While we may not be able to change the fact that companies will evaluate using quantifiable data – i.e. focusing on what is produced rather than how it’s done – we can determine the future of the middle manager…and the future of their direct reports.


Make development your number one priority. I’ve had my share of bosses who’ve had no regard for others’ development. And what really bothered me about that was that, in my mind, developing me made my boss look really freakin’ good. To truly recognize an employee’s potential – and furthermore, help the employee recognize his or her own potential – gives a manager so much opportunity to shine. Work with your direct reports to help them visualize where they want to go and then do your best to help them get there.


Always give feedback. Another huge management pet peeve of mine is when a manager waits until the two times a year we’re mandated to have development conversations and they bring up a negative situation from a few months ago. As a relatively confrontational person – in that I address things when they need to be addressed – I found this cowardly and embarrassing. And I was less likely to actually heed the feedback and advice of my manager. Always give positive and constructive feedback to direct reports. They’ll be more likely to respect and listen to you that way.


Mentor, mentor, mentor. Though the two thoughts above are certainly parts of a mentoring relationship, you should focus on the broader term of mentorship. Serve as a resource for your direct reports. When you’ve got full visibility to the team, and probably more visibility to organization-wide projects and initiatives, it’s your responsibility to connect the dots. Introduce them to people in the company, and even outside the company, who could help them grow their network and help them realize opportunities.


Does your organization have plans to do away with your annual review process? Tell us about it in the comments!