Many managers rank performance reviews low on their priority list, believing that many other tasks matter more. When handled well, however, performance reviews provide needed information and a valuable way for employees to connect with their supervisors.
If performance reviews are something your management team dreads, consider making the following changes to improve the process and the information it produces:
Treat performance reviews as a process, not a task.
When performance reviews are treated as a one-time task, both managers and employees tend to see them as an aberration in the normal workflow. This generates a desire in both parties to get the performance review over as quickly as possible so they can return to “normal” tasks.
Instead of treating performance reviews as a one-time “event,” teach managers to treat them as a “process.” Once a week, encourage managers to make “rounds” to check on employees: asking how they’re doing, fielding their questions, acknowledging their successes, and determining where changes are necessary. Managers who listen, write down what they hear, and follow up find that the annual performance review becomes an opportunity to “dig in” to particular problems or successes, rather than an attempt to summarize a year’s work in a short visit.
Structure performance reviews around company goals.
Connecting evaluations to specific, measurable organizational goals is an easy way to ensure employees are staying on task and supporting the company’s vision – but surprisingly few hiring managers do it. Yet employees who know they will be evaluated on how their contribution helps the company as a whole alter their behavior accordingly.
Instead of ordering employees to stick to company goals, get their input. Ask employees what they see as the most important parts of their job and how those address company goals, then help them realign priorities and focus their energies effectively. Create objective review criteria linked to company goals in order to keep performance reviews on track.
Aim for conversation, not confrontation.
Many employees dislike “performance reviews” because they feel like a lecture – and many managers dislike them for the same reason. Instead of treating a performance review as a one-time confrontation between employee and manager, train both parties to see them as a single point in an ongoing conversation. Managers can focus on “coaching” employees rather than lecturing them, gathering ideas for improvement and offering concrete suggestions. Likewise, employees should be encouraged to bring their own concerns to the performance review and to seek information on improving their own work.