Performance reviews – groaning ensues. I have met few people who like to give or receive performance reviews. Yet, we are continually told that feedback and holding people accountable are important to ensure engaged employees and successful organizations. Perhaps a little reminder may be in order – “Leader, it’s your job to give performance reviews”. Here are a few of the problems that most organizations struggle with:
- Giving and receiving feedback has to be encouraged. Formal reviews are necessary and need to happen but equally important are ongoing conversations between you and your employees. Waiting for the “formal” review time to give and receive feedback is often too late for any real adjustments or meaningful celebrations.
- Having a form that is just a checklist that you mark with a score or check is not feedback. I understand if there are standards and production requirements that need to be measured but it will never will never increase the engagement of your folks. A review must be a two-way conversation.
- Often employees are unclear about expectations and goals therefore, they do not achieve the desired outcomes. Often organizations have changing priorities but those never filter down to the employees. Regular on-going review sessions would ensure that employees know what is expected.
- Many organizations do not have an established performance review process or any accountability for doing them. It starts at the top. If leadership is not adhering to a performance review process among themselves, it will never become part of the culture. Performance reviews must be done at all levels.
Providing and seeking feedback doesn’t have to be hard and rigid. Some things to consider:
- Employees want feedback and they really would like to give you some feedback as well. This is where the skill of coaching can really open the door to very meaningful conversations. Here are a few coaching questions to choose from:
- What is going well? What’s one brag you want to share? What has been your biggest success?
- What do you like most about your job, right now? What part of your job is the most satisfying?
- What is not going well? What’s getting in your way of doing your job? What’s been your biggest challenge? What do you need to do differently?
- What do you like least about your job? Which part is the least satisfying?
- What am I (the leader) doing well? What could I do better?
- What advice do you have for the organization?
- Make the employee part of the process. Give them opportunity to contribute to their performance review. If there is a checklist, have them complete it and then compare with each other and discuss. Use the time to find ways to help them grow and problem solve.
- Use the Performance Review as a reminder of the goals, vision and values of the organization. Engage the employee in a conversation of how the goals, vision and values are showing up in their daily routine of work.
- Schedule at least three formal sessions during a performance year and strive to have on-going informal conversations. During the first formal sessions set the goals and encourage the employee to create goals. Discuss the expectations and how they will be measured. Set the dates for the next two formal sessions. One of the expectations should be that you and the employee will show-up for the sessions prepared to discuss successes, challenges and opportunities for growth.
- Hold yourself accountable to have “mini” informal feedback sessions with all your employees. It can be as simple as asking one question – What would you like me to know, right now? The point is to have a conversation – you will definitely walk away with just a little bit more insight.
- As a leader, if you are not receiving regular feedback from your leadership, seek it. You will become much better at giving feedback if you are receiving it. And a much better leader!
I can’t promise that establishing a culture of productive performance reviews is going to be easy. It’s going to take discipline and a real desire. I can promise that if you stick with it, the ROI will not just be in dollars – it will be a great place to work!