There are a few reasons that performance reviews are important to both the employee/team member and the organization. They provide valuable feedback on how their performance is seen by managers to whom they report. They provide guidance to the employee as to how and what they can do to improve performance and thus, become more valuable to the organization. They also provide an opportunity for recognition of successful performance and a potential reward for such. These all represent significant value to both the employee and the organization.
Frequently when collaborating with a client the subject of a performance review is raised by that person. What I hear most often is in the form of complaints. Expressed frustration centers around the fact that “I haven’t had a review in almost two years.” Or … “my boss only wants to tell me everything I’m doing wrong and is very discouraging.” In my opinion … not good and this experience clearly works against the potential value that a thorough and reliable review can hold for all concerned.
THE MISSING INGREDIENTS OF TOO MANY REVIEWS
Here are some of the issues that are raised pertaining to reviews in too many organizations:
- A performance review is seen by many as something to be done once a year … usually around ones’ anniversary date. And then, it’s put into one’s employee file and remains there until the next time … a long year later. As such there is little that serves to be motivational for the employee.
- Too often it represents only the boss’s opinion of a performance without discussion or the ability to question and even disagree. This rather than striving to achieve a shared understanding between both parties.
- It is often completed without any clear, definitive plan for growth and improvement having been discussed or established
- It ends without knowing that the employee heard the entire message that the reviewer wants them to hear and understand. This risks that the takeaway will be only what the person might easily see as negatives.
REWORKING THE REVIEW PROCESS TO INSPIRE THE DESIRED IMPACT
For sure it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, if seen and used as the impactful tool that a boss has at her/his fingertips it can be amazingly effective in helping the employee move in the desired direction. Movement can be faster and more purposeful. It can communicate how important each member of the team is to the overall success of the organization. It can emphasize the reality that it is the TEAM that is going to enable the to organization to achieve all the established goals.
- Set a specific date and t ime with the individual to provide their performance review within 1 or 2 weeks of one’s work anniversary. It becomes a ‘to do’ date on the calendars of all involved. In doing this you allow them to look forward to and anticipate something that is especially important to all.
Give the employee a blank review form asking them to complete as a form of self-evaluation and bring it to the set review appointment. Doing this will provide the areas of similarity and variance in how each party sees performance in any given category. This helps to bring focus to specific areas that will center much of the conversation.
- Suggest that the report take notes of key points discussed as the review proceeds. This is a way of making certain they leave the meeting with the full story that has been discussed.
- Discussions pertaining to the review should focus on strengths and opportunities … not good and bad. The inherent value is the reviewee leaving with a clear understanding of where they excel and where their growth opportunities lie.
- Where there is a marked difference in the rating of one completed form vs. the other be curious. Learn how and why the reviewee has rated themselves as they have. This can be a difference in either direction. With good explanation be prepared to alter the ‘official’ review rating if the person’s reasoning is accurate.
- In each assessment category, be specific in discussing and considering steps that one can take to grow. As well, clearly identify what you as the reviewer are committed to do to help further that growth in the coming months/year.
- In approaching the end of the review session, ask the report to repeat back to you what their takeaway is. It allows the reviewer to clarify and add anything missed as it is important they leave with the full understanding of strengths and growth areas.
- Consider and view the review document as a dynamic, living one that can and will be used for on-going check-ins with the report. This will serve to motivate continued use of their acknowledged strengths as well as to aid growth and development.
- Commit to having a brief (5 to 10 minute) monthly conversation with each report wherein you look to identify changes you see and training that you know has been done. Doing this and addressing any questions one might have conveys ones’ personal interest in a report’s success.
There is little doubt that each person approaching their review is anxious to hear and understand how they are valued by organization. Keeping it front and center throughout the year has some key positives. The employees know they are seen in their entirety. They know that their ‘boss’ is on their team and invested in their success. They are motivated to prove their worthiness to the organizational team. Rightfully, they have valid reason to anticipate a salary increase and even upward movement within the organization. Bottom line? Treat the review like a plan-a-gram to maintenance, growth and development. The by-product is a team that is loyal, driven and committed to the very success that is every organization’s goal.