If there’s one thing that people hate, it’s performance review time. Managers complain that they don’t have time to document and deliver reviews and too many people feel like it’s a necessary evil instead of focused on their professional development. To say the least, it’s not a joy for HR to track and manage either. Sadly, reviews delivered annually, or even quarterly are little more than a time sink in most companies. They suck because they’re more about process than the person.
The secret to making the performance review process suck less and inspire more is to facilitate, not deliver, the performance review. It’s a two-way conversation between two professionals – not a boss reading from a document and telling someone how they performed while they sit, listen, and “take it” in silence.
Hello, Mr. Manager! If your team member is failing, poor ratings and pointing your finger at them and their failings won’t make things better. Be a leader! Coach, mentor and take responsibility for supporting their success, not simply pointing out their failures in the review.
Yes, reviews do need to documented and there are some great platforms that are changing the game, like Work Simple. Get out of the mindset it’s an annual or quarterly process and make performance feedback an everyday process. There are no surprises with what’s documented when people know where they stand day-to-day.
When managers do sit down with people for a focused performance management conversation, here’s a three-step approach to the Performance Review conversation that will make it less of a formality and a more interactive experience.
1. Look back:
- What were your highs?
- What were your lows?
- What were your biggest surprises?
- What one thing stands out to you as your biggest accomplishment?
- What do you wish you had known that you know now?
2. Look forward:
- What are you goals for this coming months in your current position?
- What skills do you want to build on?
- Where do you want to take your career beyond your current role?
- What advice do you have for me and for the leadership team that will make you more successful?
- How can I help you?
3. Acknowledge the person, not only the work effort:
- You are _____________________
- You bring _____________________
- You inspire _____________________
- What I appreciate about you is _____________________
Deliver a Performance Review like a Coach, not a Boss:
- Set up ground rules at the start of the conversation. Agree to both be active participants in the dialogue and reflection.
- Agree that both of you will lean into the relationship and conversation instead of putting up walls and boundaries that keep things “safe” at a high level.
- Accept that you don’t have to know all the answers but ask smart questions to discover them together.
- Listen to what’s spoken and unspoken.
- Acknowledge who they are, not only what they accomplished.
If you are the on the receiving end of the review, you’re not off the hook. Performance reviews that are done to you need to be a thing of the past. Empower yourself as an active participant in the conversation. Don’t go into it with dread and the attitude that you just need to suck it up and get it done. Silence doesn’t’ lead to understanding, growth, development or inspired action. It’s about you! There is no room to be passive about your career.
What are some of your personal best practices when it comes to Performance Reviews? What was your most positive experience? Did you have a Performance Review conversation that missed the mark? Tell us about it in the comments below.