Why millennials would smash traditional individual performance measurement

Many large corporations will start preparing their yearly individual performance reviews soon. And many do so as they have already done 5 or even 10 years ago. Maybe with some minor adjustment over time, but often still with the same design principles.


The evaluation preparation and execution process usually takes place once a year occupying the entire organisation for weeks if not months. Forced rankings are still very common where teams must fulfil disclaimed but implied quotas on low, medium and high performers. In order to remember and compare what was achieved throughout the year, employees and line managers need to keep a log-book to avoid empty conversations at year-end. How could we change that?


Millennials (born early 1980s until late 1990s) are somewhere between their late teenage and mid 30s when this text was written. They bring a different but stimulating mind-set to work. Millennials (also known as generation Y) will soon make 1/3 of a company’s workforce. It is therefore a good time to rethink the status quo.



"Millennials work with

organisations not for them"



What drives millennials? (source: Barclays)

  • Millennials look for freedom and flexibility at work. If they don’t find it, they will move on

  • Exiting projects and team work count more than fancy titles

  • Millennials see themselves working with organisations not for them

  • As digital natives, they use tablets and smartphones more often than laptops or workstations. They expect services to be instant accessible and mobile optimised

  • Communication is frequent, short and fast with text message and social media platforms being preferred



"Performance measurement

must be designed for the people

not against them"



What to change?

  • Performance review design should no longer be a top-down driven exercise. To accommodate all employee groups, let’s bring different generations to the performance review design table to further advance the process

  • We live in a time where we privately provide performance reviews on a regular basis. Think about all the hotel portals, online product orderings, hotline engagements or social media platforms where we provide stars or thumb-up ratings constantly. If you had to wait until year-end would you really remember? It would be of great value to implement a similar, easy performance feedback scheme throughout the entire year

  • Foster and better weight teamwork. Teamwork will be even more important in the future. This is especially true were jobs and skills boundaries get blurred. With the right incentives, teamwork performance can be accelerated for the good of the entire organisation

  • Cancel forced ranking quotas. It’s old fashion, unconstructive and demoralising. Real low performers will be identified without quotas. And quota victims in A-teams will not improve performance. More often the opposite is true or make them leave the organisation


Performance evaluation and measurement is important. I truly believe it helps motivate, develop and reward employees. However, I think it is time to revamp the concept not only because of millennials. In the end, individual performance measurement must be designed for the people, not against them.


Chris Frey @chrisfrey.com