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There is a common saying in business, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Performance reviews are meant to help employees improve, but all too often, an employee leaves their meeting with their manager unsure of exactly how they can get better at their job. This happens because a quarterly or annual evaluation tends to be qualitative rather than quantitative. 

Here is an example many professionals can relate to: They expect their performance review to focus on the work they do every day but are instead evaluated on a series of generic competencies unrelated to their role. Perhaps, they’re rated a “5” on initiative, “4” on accountability, and “2” on communication.

They ultimately receive no actionable feedback and continue to work exactly as they were before. Even worse, they grow disengaged from the poor performance review experience and lack of direction. 

For a long time, organizations had to settle for a qualitative approach since the same review form had to be used for the entire workforce. With a modern performance management system, evaluation criteria can not only be customized for every employee. You also measure their performance on a continuous basis and share objective feedback focused specifically on what they do.  

What is a quantitative performance review?

A quantitative performance review evaluates an employee on measurable factors directly related to their job. This evaluation method removes any subjectivity and allows managers to deliver clear and accurate feedback on what the employee is doing well and how they can improve. 

Quantitative performance management also allows for real-time measurement of an employee’s performance, as opposed to the retrospective nature of a traditional qualitative performance review. 

How to do quantitative performance reviews

Upfronting planning is required to transition from one-size-fits-all performance reviews to role-specific, quantitative evaluations. You need to determine what aspects of each employees’ job will be measured, share those expectations with them, and then create a system for evaluating performance and providing feedback. Let’s explore what goes into implementing quantitative performance reviews.

Start with SMART goals

Effectively measuring performance requires defining clear goals for every member of the workforce. Goals need to be understood by the employee so they know—without a doubt —what is expected of them. The SMART method of goal setting is designed to do exactly that. You can set quantifiable employee goals by following these five points:

  • Specific – Determine exactly what the employee needs to accomplish and the standards their work should meet. If you’re struggling to specify a goal, break it into a series of smaller goals that will result in the bigger objective being met. 
  • Measurable – Naturally, goals supporting a quantifiable performance review process need to be measurable. But even more, they should have definite intended outcomes so success or failure is completely objective.
  • Achievable – Ensure employee goals are the right balance of ambitious yet realistically achievable. They should require the employee to give their best effort throughout the workday without becoming overworked or stressed out.
  • Relevant – Create goals that align with the employee’s skills, experience, and role responsibilities. Employee goals should also positively impact team/departmental objectives.
  • Timely – Set deadlines for every goal. The employee should know what they’re expected to accomplish and when it needs to be delivered.

Employee goals should never be open to interpretation. SMART goals prevent ambiguity so team members focus on the right work and managers and HR can gauge their performance at any time. 

Track goals and deliver frequent feedback

Unlike qualitative performance reviews, managers don’t have to wait until the end of the year or quarter to share feedback with a quantitative approach. They can access the performance management system at any time and see how employees are progressing toward their objectives.

Once SMART goals are set, apply KPIs to the employee’s objectives that provide insight into the headway they’re making. For example, a salesperson might be expected to hit a dollar amount quota over a certain period. KPIs that demonstrate the progress they’re making could be the number of leads they contact, follow-up calls they make, and average deal size. KPIs should be used as an indicator as to whether the employee is on pace to meet their long-term objectives.

Managers can then meet with team members regularly to review these performance metrics. They can have a two-way conversation and learn why the employee may be lagging in a particular area and share feedback that helps them get back on track. They can also learn about any problems outside the employee’s control that may be hindering progress and take steps to resolve those bottlenecks.

When it comes time for the annual or quarterly performance review, the employee will know what to expect. They’ll know if they accomplished their quantifiable goals and won’t be caught off guard by subjective feedback. And instead of reviewing past performance, the manager and employee can proactively plan for the coming review period. 

Benefits of quantitative performance reviews

Quantitative performance reviews require more preparation than simply using the same qualitative competencies across the workforce. However, defining SMART goals and KPIs are worth the performance improvements they result in. Let’s explore the specific benefits of quantitative performance reviews:

  • Performance truly improves – The goal of employee evaluations is to improve performance and objective feedback informed by data ensures that happens. 
  • Employees are receptive to feedback – Employees are more open to logical coaching than unclear feedback that has little to do with their tasks and responsibilities. 
  • Employees get the feedback they crave – Contrary to popular belief, employees want to know how they’re performing and how they can improve.
  • Employees contribute to the organization’s success – Relevant goals that align with high-level objectives empower employees to do impactful work. 
  • Goals drive employee motivation – Ambitious goals keep employees focused on the little thing that incrementally leads to success.

All those benefits not only improve employee performance, they also boost employee engagement. Employees enjoy their jobs when they know what is expected of them and how they can deliver work that drives progress for the organization. When employees are engaged, they give their best effort day in and day out.

A complete performance review process

While organizational-wide evaluation forms no longer make sense in the era of performance management software, the general competencies referenced at the start of this article are a nice supplement to include in quantitative reviews. 

SMART goals are an excellent way to accurately measure job performance, however, there is more that goes into being a great employee than simply accomplishing role-specific objectives. Employees need to work together, communicate their ideas, and be an overall positive presence in the workplace. 

Round out performance reviews with behavioral competencies related to the employee’s position. Ask managers to evaluate team members on the progress they’ve made toward their goals and the other qualities that demonstrate job success. By conducting complete performance reviews, you’ll help employees improve in all aspects of their job.

Modern performance management with Trakstar

Trakstar is designed to help organizations measure what matters most when it comes to employee performance. Set SMART goals for every employee, track their progress, and conduct performance reviews relevant to their role. 

You can also use the results of quantitative performance reviews to make data-driven workforce decisions. Perform succession planning, institute performance improvement plans, make fair compensation decisions, and generate reports that help improve your performance management process going forward. 

Request a live demo of Trakstar today!