Collaborative meetings, a substitute for annual assessment interviews

In most companies, the anneal interview is a rite of passage, and often dreaded as much by the manager as by his employee. But summing up a year in a one-hour interview may not be the most effective method. Hence the idea of replacing them with collaborative meetings.

According to a global study conducted in 2013 by the American polling company Gallup, for each employee who says he is “emotionally” engaged within his company, two other employees don’t feel dedicated at all.

In Canada, 69% of employees say that professional engagement is lacking in their organization. More than 30% come out frustrated and demotivated from their annual assessment interview – a feeling that leads them to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Some companies want to avoid the annual assessment interview becoming a trigger for demotivation. In the last two years, about 5% of employers in Quebec have bet on collaboration meetings. They are carried out by the three agencies developing this innovative approach. Among them, Patrimoine RH and its founder Philippe Zinser note that the annual assessment is a tool which, even with improvements, no longer works: “45 minutes to go over 2000 hours of work is something impossible and frustrating to do. Science tells us today that after three months our brains lose a lot of accuracy.” However, more than three-quarters of companies in Quebec continue, for lack of anything better, to use an assessment system inherited from the 1970s. (The remaining 15 to 20% do not use any employee assessment mechanism.)

Evelyne Joseph, a human resources consultant for the Montreal-based construction project management firm Macogep, acknowledges that the annual assessment is “often perceived by assessors and the assessed alike as a tedious, long and arduous process. Our firm has not yet officially adopted collaboration meetings, but we already do it informally, depending on the needs of employees.”

Collaboration meetings remain individual, occurring ideally in 3 sessions of 30 minutes each during the year and consisting of a tête-à-tête outside the usual structures. “The new generations live in instantaneity and are hyperconnected in an increasingly collaborative professional world. They need faster and more frequent feedback, to be able to improve themselves without having to wait a year,” says Philippe Zinser. Meetings are held outdoors or in a space at the workplace where the employee is at ease, not in an office where they are convened and feel judged by their superiors.

Assessment forms and boxes to be ticked off are replaced by open-ended questions. The dialogue begins by first being interested in the employee and not in performance of the tasks listed in his or her job description. It is more about the future, creativity, issues that improve the engagement of the valued employee. The question of pay raises remains dissociated from the meetings, so as not to compromise their fully cooperative nature.

“We are not dealing with anything negatively. The accent is no longer on what doesn’t work, on depreciative, sterile and upsetting ratings,” explains Philippe Zinser.  In his view, the collaboration meetings on the contrary facilitate a productive exchange of information and sometimes allow ideas to emerge that are profitable for the company.

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