Performance management is a source of some frustration for most managers, especially having the “dreaded” review discussion. There are ways to make that conversation both easier and more effective.
It’s that time of the year again. No, not the holidays. Performance review and annual goal setting time. Many people dread performance reviews. That dread is exacerbated this year by the exceptional circumstances we’ve all been living through. It’s too bad this sense of dread is so prevalent. Performance reviews and feedback could be easier and more effective, if we reframe our thinking. Here are 7 tips to make performance reviews easier and more effective:
1. Change the label. The term “performance review” or “performance management” conjures up images of passing judgement on a person’s performance, on their worth. A “performance and development conversation” is a two-way dialogue. We are sharing perspectives, insights and ideas. It’s a partnership. How we talk with our team members can put people more at ease.
2. Change the focus. Make the review all about developing your team member. The focus of performance conversations should not be primarily about the rating we are giving someone or justifying a salary increase. It’s an opportunity to help this individual perform at the highest level possible, to build on their strengths and support their development. According to McKinsey, superior talent is up to eight times more productive than average employees. The more time and sincere effort you invest in your employee’s development, the higher the return.
3. Start with empathy. Ask about the challenges and realities the person is experiencing – balancing work and child-care, caring for an elderly parent, managing remote or hybrid learning or just the loneliness of being remote. Ask at the beginning of the review. Even if you asked last week. You want to establish empathy as part of the review. Why? Besides being a good thing to do? Among employees who said they feel cared for by their employer, 94% say they feel personally engaged in their work compared to 43% of those who don’t. Furthermore, according to IBM research, organizations that score in the top 25% of employee experience report nearly 3x the return on assets and double the return on sales when compared to organizations in the bottom 25%.
4. Simplify. Start with a high-level narrative that summarizes past performance, development needs and goals. Then launch into the review. But don’t just read it together. Instead, think about using these five questions to drive conversation:
- What accomplishments are you most proud of?
- How well are you achieving your current goals?
- How do goals need to change to meet new business strategy or goals?
- How are your actions aligning with our values and culture?
- What do you need to continue doing because you are doing it well? What do you need to stop doing because it’s not effective? What do you need to start doing instead?
6. Talk about expectations and reality. Discuss how those expectations can be managed against the realities mentioned above. Ask for the individual’s thoughts on it.
7. Focus not just on what was achieved but how it was achieved. For example, in remote environments, collaboration is more important but can be more difficult. Make sure people are clear on what is important for success.