November 20, 2012

Nothing New on Performance Reviews

This is a catchy little phrase I like to use when I conduct performance review workshops: “Nothing New on the Performance Review”.  So what does this mean for you and your employees?

Performance reviews should be a summary of performance throughout the review period which assumes that managers and employees communicate about goal accomplishments, productivity statistics, and other achievements and misses on an ongoing basis. 
Many employees dread the review discussion because they have received an unhappy surprise on how their manager rated their performance in the past.  This shows a disconnection between the expectations the employee is operating under and how the manager sees performance.  Reviews should not be an unhappy surprise for employees or dreaded by managers.. 
Here is how to operate under the “nothing new on performance review” philosophy:
  1. Goal Setting – Jointly set goals for the year with employees.  Employees will have a greater commitment to goals they help to create.  Many managers use the SMART system of goal setting which includes a review for Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time Bound. 
  2. Key Competencies – Identify key competencies for your employee’s position with examples within each rating category.  You should be able to answer the questions “how do I earn a superior rating in this category?” or “how do I avoid receiving a needs improvement rating next year in this category?”
  3. Track Progress - It is critical to capture information throughout the whole review period.  Two options to consider are the calendar approach and critical incident.  In the calendar approach, the manager documents instances on the day they occur so when review time approaches, the manager simply reviews every day of their calendar.  In critical incident, a manager creates a document for every employee with a line down the center and records instances both positive and negative.  These comments can then be transferred to the final review form.
  4. Provide Feedback – It is not enough to track progress, it needs to be communicated to be effective. Ongoing coaching provides employees with timely feedback on what the employee is doing well, progress toward achieving goals, and any areas where improvement is needed.  Frequent feedback gives the employee time to correct performance problems before they become severe.
  5. Review Discussion – In discussing the final appraisal it is a good idea to ask the employee to also complete a self-appraisal.  Start the discussion with the employee’s opinion and then clarify any discrepancies with your review ratings.
  6. Future Development – This post-review phase helps ensure an on-going productive and competent workforce through training and development plans that help employees improve their current performance and achieve long-term career goals.  It ends the review discussion focusing on a positive future as opposed to the past year performance which cannot change.
By seeing the performance review process as an ongoing process instead of a once a year event, managers will be able to embrace the “nothing new on the performance review” philosophy and employees will have greater job satisfaction with open dialog throughout the year that lets them know how they are progressing.

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