Being terminated induces more stress for managers and employees than any other event. What we’re talking about today, unfortunately, also creates a high level of negative stress for many employees and managers. That’s right – it’s getting toward the end of the year and its time for the dreaded performance review.
Many companies require that every employee get an end-of-year performance review. Performance reviews are under a great deal of scrutiny right now and some companies are opting out for several reasons. Often managers treat annual reviews as just a check-off activity and don’t think of the review as a valuable opportunity to discuss their employees’ accomplishments and areas of opportunity. Managers tend to focus on top-of-mind information which often has a short-term focus or focuses on the employees’ negatives. For employees, this focus on very recent results or their weaknesses leaves them feeling undervalued. I have had employees share that their manager stores up all their negative feedback and dumps it all at once on them via the performance review. That being said, performance reviews are still the norm and can be a useful tool when done correctly.
Imagine a world where employees and managers alike look forward to their performance review discussion. Let’s walk through the scenario with Andrew, a fictitious employee, who works for Anna, our fictitious manager.
Results of the Best Case Performance Review
How do we want Andrew feel when he walks out of his “best-case” performance review?
We want to see Andrew walk out of his performance review with a smile on his face. He just met with his manager, Anna. He is excited about next year and can’t wait to get started. He knows where he stands including the areas where he is strong, and areas where he needs and wants to grow. He is completely engaged in his job and motivated to go above and beyond for his company. He is willing to be responsible and accountable. This isn’t an aberration – it’s due to the great work of his manager, Anna.
Best Practices for a Successful Performance Review
The success of a performance review is built on the foundation of HOW you as the manager manages your employees throughout the year. The following are some best practices that Andrew’s manager, Anna, uses with all of her employees that get her to the best-case result above:
- She makes sure her employees understand the mission and vision of the team and their role in the team.
- At the end of the previous year or the beginning of the year, Anna has every employee review and revise his or her position plan to make sure it is accurate. She asks them to review it with her so that she can approve.
- At the beginning of the year, Anna outlines the goals of the team for the upcoming year. She encourages discussion and debate of the goals.
- Each of her employees develops their own goals that will enable team success and shares them with the rest of the team. Everyone understands his or her own part as well as everyone else’s part on the team.
- Every employee has at least one goal focused on his or her own development and career growth.
- She reminds her employees that there will be a performance review at the end of the year that will focus on results versus goals, as well as how the employee achieved their goals.
- Anna regularly meets with her entire team to discuss their metrics and accomplishments throughout the year. Everyone on the team knows if the team is on track. The team celebrates major milestones.
- Depending on the capability and experience of the employee, she meets with them once a week or once every two weeks.
- Anna requires every employee to summarize their results for each quarter, which they review with Anna. Anna relies on her employees to reset their goals as appropriate and with her approval.
- If an employee is new to their job or to a significant task, Anna provides more coaching or arranges for them to have the support they need for success.
- When an employee’s behavior is inappropriate or when they don’t deliver needed results, Anna immediately provides feedback and coaching. She doesn’t sugarcoat her feedback, especially if there are significant performance or behavioral issues. If an issue wasn’t addressed during the year, it’s not in the performance review.
- Anna strives to give at least three positive comments for every one negative comment. She measures herself on that metric. Her stretch goal is five to one.
- Anna requires her employees to summarize their results versus their goals for the past year.
- Anna collects feedback from those who have worked closely with the employee with a focus on the employee’s strengths.
- Anna summarizes her feedback and incorporates the employee’s results into the performance review. If the employee has areas that are negatively impacting their performance, Anna directly addresses those areas and references her earlier discussions with the employee. This includes those areas where the employee has made significant improvements.
- Anna sends the performance review to the employee to read before the meeting and asks them to review it and come with any changes they want to make.
- During the meeting, Anna and the employee discuss the review and any changes the employee wants to make. She considers their changes and edits the review assuming she approves.
- She focuses the results discussion with the end goal of growing the employee’s capabilities. She makes sure they discuss the employee’s career goals and what the employee accomplished the past year that will help them toward their career goals. Then, they discuss next year’s goals. They discuss potential career moves and the timing of those moves.
Why was Andrew’s performance review more impactful?
Anna’s performance discussion with Andrew was more impactful because it helped satisfy some of Andrew’s basic human needs:
- The need to belong and be part of something bigger.
- To know how one fits in.
- To feel safe.
- To make a contribution.
- To be recognized.
- To know where you stand.
- To trust those you work for.
- To be trusted by those you work for.
- To have a say in one’s job and work.
- To grow.
How are performance reviews working for you? Do you feel like they support your success and the success of your employees? I would love to hear about your experiences with performance reviews.
Next week, join us for a big surprise announcement!
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