I recently asked our class of newly promoted leaders to submit their questions about performance reviews. Here’s the Q & A for some of them.
Q: What is your number one performance review tip?
A: DO ONE. Employees deserve a half hour of your year to sit down with you and discuss their contributions and growth. It makes a statement about what you value: your workforce. Even if you don’t have a structured process, do it anyway and keep it simple. Show an interest in the answers to these questions: What are you most proud of this past year? What are you doing on your best days at work? How can I better support you to have more of those days, and what would that support look and sound like? What are you interested in achieving or learning in the coming year?
Q: How do I find positive things to say about employees who are constantly challenging?
A: Look. Everyone has something good about them if we pay attention, and it is on you to do so.
Q: How do you remember to include things from the whole year?
A: Keep a log (email me for our simple tool). Set aside a half hour a week to write what you see, hear and notice. Make it specific and brief. Write it in a way that you will be able to show it to the employee, and then show it only to them. Do this for both positive observations and behavior that needs to be corrected. Make note when a correction is made and when you talked with them about it. This kind of documentation also keeps you alert to any conversations you might be avoiding when things are not getting better.
Q: What do you do when someone says they have no goals?
A: Make it clear that goals are an expectation before you sit down together, no matter how close to retirement they might be. Honor the efforts of the past year, but reinforce that these discussions are just as much, if not more, about the coming year and that growth and stretch is needed from everyone.
Q: What is the best type of performance review?
A: I don’t know if anyone has figured this out, even if each latest greatest format professes to. In general though:
☑ Think of performance reviews as a quality dialogue, not a form to fill out.
☑ Listen as much, if not more, than you talk.
☑ See it as an opportunity to learn something about what makes this employee tick.
☑ Know your organization’s goals. Your own goals need to flow from these, and from there the employee’s. Teach your whole team about this by looking at the organizational goals together and discussing, “How does our department contribute to these goals? What do each of us individually do to make them happen?”
☑ Have-or develop-specific criteria for any scoring system you use. For example, if you rate on a 1-5 scale, what does a 1 look and sound like? What are the behaviors of a 3? Any score can trap you unless it can be clearly quantified.
☑Don’t make the employee do their own review. It’s great to ask for their self-evaluation, but, “Just fill out this form and I’ll sign off” is missing the point and will backfire.
☑ Don’t wait for the review to talk with your employees about their performance. The review is just one of many tools for managing performance. At best, performance reviews are not an “event” but they are ongoing, year-round, regular supervision discussions, huddles, rounding, team meetings, coaching conversations and any regular interactions you have with employees.
☑ Don’t just put in the positive, or just the corrective/opportunity. If you are regularly coaching an employee on performance issues, those are part of the review too. So is any progress they are making, and there should be no surprise when you have the review conversation. And everyone has opportunities for growth.
☑ Don’t skip it, rush it, or procrastinate. If you have regular interactions throughout the year and keep some regularly scheduled time sacred for documenting significant highlights and conversations, there is nothing to dread.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
||In Jo Anne's current role as Organizational and Workforce Development Senior Manager at the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative (RWHC) her aim is to offer to leaders straightforward tools and inspire the courage to use them.
Lead the Way in Five Minutes A Day: Sparking High Performance in Yourself and Your Team, by Jo Anne Preston is currently available for purchase.