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Seattle company ditches annual reviews; does this instead

The annual performance review is generally a hated experience. Some companies are switching to weekly performance reviews. Thanks to a Seattle-based tech company, there's now an app for that. (AP)

The annual performance review is a universally hated experience, but year-after-year we put ourselves through the torture &#8212 both employees and managers alike.

But this annual inspection is on its way out, making way for the weekly review.

Major companies are starting to understand that the annual review might not be the best method. Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, GE and others have all announced they’ve switched things around.

Related: Can you really trust your iPhone?

Matt Hulett is the Chief Product Officer at TINYpulse, a Seattle company that wants to end annual performance reviews and, instead, chop that process into weekly segments. And to make that process easier, there’s an app for that.

“We’re all used to having this annual conversation that’s like a scene out of ‘Office Space,'” Hulett said. “It’s uncomfortable and weird. And then you get paid &#8212 or not. And so everyone walks out of the situation feeling like there’s recency bias.”

Hulett admits he used to manage this way: That whatever the last thing an employee did was the best thing possible, no matter what he or she did during months one through eleven.

“Well, the reality is there’s a better way to do it,” he said.

Hulette says that since everyone’s got an app for things like fitness and dating why not your career?

“Our products are very agile; they’re very quick to use,” he said. “In fact, we use a metaphor a lot like (the dating app) Tinder. So you can actually rate someone above average, at, or below expectations by a swipe of a finger.”

TINYpulse Perform, as it’s called, can be on your phone or desktop. Weekly, you review your goals and rate yourself, adding comments to how you achieved, or are working towards achieving, your goal. Then, your boss gets a notification that you’ve rated yourself and they &#8212 blind to what you said &#8212 rate you, too. The most important aspect is the constant feedback and coaching.

Fifty-two weeks later, you have data and proof of your performance.

“You’re just very quickly entering information all the time in the product so, by the time you have a conversation with your boss or CEO &#8212 or however it’s done &#8212 you don’t have to spend 60, 70, 80 hours going through manilla folders,” Hulette said.

TINYpulse Perform is in Beta testing right now. Seattle-based Brenthaven, which makes high-end tech accessories, is taking part. The company started 35 years ago in a Bellingham garage and now it’s in a prime Downtown Seattle location with dozens of employees.

Harry Ross, who works in human resources for Brenthaven, spent many years in a managerial role at Macy’s and called the annual performance reviews “painful.” He says Beta-testing for Perform has been good thus far, though it has been an adjustment for some employees.

“It’s been a little harder for them that, all of a sudden, every week they get this notification,” he said. “It’s like ‘OK, how am I doing on this goal?,’ but I think that’s just getting used to it. And so far what they do like is the feedback.”

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