Performance Reviews: 3 Tips for Better Impact

Annual performance reviews don’t get a lot of respect. In many cases, managers don’t like writing them, employees don’t like receiving them, and for many, the whole process is seen as the hurdle standing in the way of bonuses and salary increases. It doesn’t have to be this way!

A November 2013 article in BusinessWeek shares some stark statistics that illustrate just how bad it is. The story cites a 1997 survey showing a mere 5% approval rating among employees about their company’s process. A 2010 survey of HR managers – the people who run the review programs – said that 58% don’t like what they have going on in their own organizations.

The biggest problem, and something that we teach our clients to avoid, is the infrequent nature of reviews. Performance reviews need to happen more than once a year, and the content and nature of them should never surprise an employee. An annual “gotcha!”? No thanks!

Which of these scenarios sounds closest to the review culture at your company?

A. Reviews are a formality that we must complete to give raises.
B. Our reviews really just document performance shortfalls to justify smaller increases or no increases at all.
C. Reviews celebrate success, set engaging goals for the new year, and energize the organization.

If you answered something other than C, your organization could be getting more out of the annual ritual. Here are some ideas.

  1. Rather than a once year, create a more frequent schedule of performance reviews. Consider quarterly at a minimum, or even monthly, feedback. Once you create a plan, stick to it. Your team will come to expect and value regular discussions.
  2. Balance positive feedback with constructive, actionable criticism (if appropriate).
  3. Create a safe, collaborative culture around your regular review sessions. Nobody wants a monthly beat-up session. Nearly everyone wants to know where they stand and to have the opportunity to discuss their accomplishments and goals.

If your performance review process isn’t helping, it’s probably hurting. No organization has the luxury of wasting time on valueless activities. Make the effort useful, or maybe don’t do it at all.

These are some of the points that Learning Dynamics teaches in its Honest Appraisal™ training sessions. Let us know if we can help your organization get more out of your review process.

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