Annual review season takes place for most businesses between February and April, when most managers are busy teeing up their end-of-fiscal year evaluation plans to assess their teams’ performance. There are a number of conventional achievements that can contribute to a positive review, such as meeting project goals, hitting revenue targets and being an amenable co-worker. But for managers, there is an often-overlooked component of the review process that is becoming increasingly important; namely skills development and measuring how skillsets improve the value of the individual, the team and the organization as a whole. 

If you’ve already built an active skills training program, then you’ve added a tangible measurement that you can point to in your evaluation process, and that adds substantial weight and validity to whatever methodology you’re using. On the other hand, if a holistic upskilling regimen still hasn’t made its way into your evaluation process, review season is the perfect time to establish a new baseline and develop a workable program. Skills development is top-of-mind for both employees and managers. A CareerBuilder survey reported that 57 percent of workers want to learn new skillsets, and 68 percent of employers who were increasing headcount have open positions for which they can’t find qualified candidates. 

Job skills are at the heart of any good organization, and here are some key trends and steps you can take to incorporate skills training into your review processes moving forward. 

1. Performance Management Tactics Are Picking up Steam

Improving employee performance can have a direct impact on the success of the broader organization, and executive teams today are laser-focused on developing better performance-related business practices. A 2017 Deloitte study shows that 79 percent of executives rate the redesign of performance management as a high priority, up from 71 percent three years ago. And they are acutely aware of the implications: 90 percent of companies that have redesigned performance management see direct improvements in engagement; 96 percent say the processes are simpler, and 83 percent say they see the quality of conversations between employees and managers rising.

Upskilling not only creates tangible metrics with which to evaluate the workforce, it also provides the fuel for better workforce ROI across the board, from IT departments and software developers to operations, marketing, and sales teams. 

2. Skills Drive Recognition and Achievements

When it comes to performance reviews, traditional approaches don’t always pay off. A Gallup survey showed that only 14 percent of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive inspire them to improve, and only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

Moreover, 69 percent of respondents from a PwC survey say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Focusing on skills in the review process gives you a concrete vehicle upon which you can base at least some of your evaluation and generate positive recognition of specific achievements. Marketing professionals, for example, can fall behind their peers in today’s digital world if they don’t develop the digital and social marketing skills to build more visible programs. Offering digital skills training—from SEO marketing programs to building social media expertise—gives them an opportunity to up their game on the job, generate excitement in their profession and affirm they are making a valuable contribution to the company. And setting an annual goal now for mastering future skills gives managers a tangible element to focus on in the next review cycle. 

3. Focus on Technology and Digital Skills

As companies continue to transform into digital enterprises, there is a huge premium placed on the types of digital skills that empower this transformation. A company’s digital performance is a reflection of the quality of its digitally trained workforce, and the popularity of skills training courses that focus on Big Data and Analytics, AI and Machine Learning, cybersecurity and other tech-heavy fields is skyrocketing.

According to the Society for HR Management, 59 percent of organizations expect to increase positions requiring data analysis skills over the next five years. Focusing on technology and digital upskilling allows managers to fill open positions with existing workers who achieve the right certifications, and those employees will be driven by a desire to enhance their career opportunities and meet specific skills-related goals for the next evaluation cycle. 

Make Online Training Your Foundation for Better Performance Reviews 

Upskilling programs have become imperative for companies worldwide, and many of the most progressive organizations are turning to online training programs to meet their skills development needs. In fact, online training has been proven to boost retention rates by 25-60 percent, compared to retention rates of eight to 10 percent with traditional training, according to a Research Institute of America study. Expansive online skills training programs are establishing themselves as invaluable tools for building stronger and more competitive organizations. 

Click the image below to find out how Simplilearn is helping businesses digitally transform

Time to Upskill Image

As annual employee review season unfolds this year, remember that skills training and evaluation can add a tangible, achievement-oriented component to your performance review program. Employees will be delighted to establish new career development goals knowing that the organization is supporting them along the way. And for managers and executive teams, you’ll build a framework that can quantify accomplishments and support continuous education of vital employee skillsets.