Annual Performance Reviews: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
In all the many years that I have had the pleasure of working with organizations and their employee teams, I cannot recall a single instance when company managers were excited about completing their annual performance reviews with their team members. In fact, they often dread the process. Yes, we have actually had calls to our office with managers asking if this is a service that we provide. Really? That's how badly some of them do not want to do it. So how has this valuable and critical exercise become so difficult and how can we make it better? Consider the following as you review your organization's performance management routines.
1. First of all, the timing may be off. If you only have performance-related conversations with your team members once a year, that is a serious mistake. As an employee, if I am doing something really well, or could be doing something better, I'm going to want to hear about it as it happens . . . not just at review time. Good managers who are committed to the growth of their team members will provide action-specific feedback, play-by-play, throughout the year, not just as part of the review process. 2. Managers often focus too much on the completion of the form instead of the conversation. Believe me, Connie Compliance here is all about proper documentation. And when it comes to managing poor performance, you have probably heard me say that "if it's not in writing, then it did not happen." However, often managers feel overwhelmed by the completion of the forms, particularly if many employees are being evaluated at the same time. Maybe it's time for a review and update of the performance evaluation process and the forms used.
3. The manager may be too far removed from the employee's work to feel comfortable providing a accurate evaluation of his or her work. Manage is an action verb. A good coach doesn't wait until the end of the season to talk to his or her players about how well they played. The coach knows each player, works with them to develop their capabilities, and provides play-by-play, corrective feedback during each and every game. If a manager is not comfortable providing feedback to an employee, a review of their reporting structure or daily work routines is recommended.
"A good coach doesn't wait until the end of the season to talk to his or her players about how well they played. The coach knows each player, works with them to develop their capabilities, and provides play-by-play, corrective feedback during each and every game."
4. In some cases, and often because it only happens once a year, employees think this evaluation process only occurs when they are being considered for a pay increase. This even further supports the case for insuring that consistent, quality performance feedback conversations are happening on an ongoing basis, as part of daily work activities. This also includes documenting the ongoing progress of your team members as well, versus trying to remember everything they have done over the course of the year. Introducing a revised model of pay increase notification separate from the performance conversations, can assist in correcting this mindset.
5. The anticipation of these meetings have become stressful due to too much "wonderland" throughout the year. Guess what? Yes, the employees often are not looking forward to these review meetings either. For some, it almost feels like being called to the principal's office when you were in school. The word "conversation" means that two people are talking and exchanging ideas, working toward a common goal. Back to my coaching reference . . . do athletes wait until the end of the season to meet with their coach to find out how well they played? They already know! How? Because they have been provided clear expectations, consistent feedback, and professional development throughout the year. And yes, they usually know if they are going to be traded or benched as well. Good performance management practices help remove the stress of these conversations and supports better developmental dialogue between managers and their team members.
Let us help your organization "Avoid Wonderland" with more efficient and effective performance management routines and tools. Contact us today for your complimentary consultation.