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INSIGHTS AND INTUITION: How is employee performance management evolving?

How is employee performance management evolving?  For example, are alternatives emerging to the traditional annual or biannual review?

In an ongoing effort to drive strategy, build culture and keep employees engaged, Dakota Carrier Network has embarked on a new journey with an Entrepreneurial Operating System, commonly known as Traction. 

This system holds us accountable for performing quarterly informal check-ins and annual reviews with employees. These tasks let us get timely pulses on satisfaction and absorb feedback on processes that can be improved. 

EOS also emphasizes a close tie between employees, company vision and data, to ensure open discussion and collective problem solving. Employees’ engagement with this tie is discussed in their quarterly check-ins and annual reviews, strengthening the employees’ understanding of how their work contributes to company-wide initiatives.

Nancy Bjorndahl 

Business Manager

Dakota Carrier Network

Bismarck, N.D.


Performance management has become about coaching employees to success, rather than evaluating past performance.  

Providing frequent, regular feedback lets employees make immediate improvements and know that they are moving in the right direction.  

The modern workforce is living in a world where immediate feedback is the norm, whether it’s getting “likes” on social media or consumers giving product reviews.  They are not prepared to wait for an annual review to get feedback. 

Kara Lombard

Executive vice president and chief people strategies officer

Choice Bank



Communication is absolutely the driver of effective performance management.  The more communication that occurs between leaders and their staff, the greater everyone’s ability will be to achieve optimal performance.  

There’s a direct correlation, and communication with purpose is key.  

Some organizations have implemented quarterly conversations as a way to increase communication about each employee’s performance and emphasize organizational direction.  Leaders should avoid making assumptions about a staff member’s progress or struggles by being thoughtful in the way they communicate. These discussions should be interactive, and leaders should ask questions, gain input and feedback, praise stellar performance and be direct in addressing issues when necessary.  

Sarah Meusburger

Human Resources Director

Banner Associates

Brookings, S.D.


Performance expectations are built to tie organizational, departmental and individual goals and objectives – clarifying and integrating the vision for the organization within each position for each individual. 

Performance management has evolved from the standard yearly review process to a more frequent one-on-one approach between leaders and employees. This approach is known as “rounding” (whether monthly or quarterly) and is used to get information and allow feedback and track progression of work in a more timely fashion. 

Employees are empowered with frequent dialogue with leaders to help improve processes and enhance performance.

Abby Morken

Human Resources Business Partner

Essentia Health 

Fargo, N.D.