sound familiar?? ….
“The boss says your performance is “x” and that means there’s no room for discussion.”
“Once a year I get a performance review to justify the lousy salary increase they had already planned on giving me.”
- These are (too often) examples of some employee perspectives of the performance management system in today’s organizations. However, this is not a one-sided issue … Studies continue to prove that team leaders identify performance reviews as one of the most unpleasant parts of their jobs. Why? For a lot of the same reasons that you, the employees, dread them. Conducted improperly, they are one of the biggest sources of frustration and demotivation for everyone.
- But the winds of change have hit the old-style performance review process, and there are many things you can do to improve the process … even if your organization is still hanging onto the old style of “tell-&-judge” reviews. Talk to your human resources folks or search the internet for the latest developments in performance discussions. Then, take some initiative to get moving in the new directions. Here are two ideas for starters:
- First, give your boss a break – they are probably just doing it the way it’s always been done in your organization. Given a choice, they will likely welcome some fresh ideas. Suggest to your boss that you’d like to have more say in the discussion. Under the old autocratic management style, employees were “seen and not heard” during performance reviews. The bosses filled out the forms in advance and then rendered edicts and decisions like fearsome courts of final appeal. You were judged worthy or not with no right of appeal or hearing.
- That’s changed. Now, managers are open to new forms of performance conversations. One of these is self-assessment in which the employee takes the lead in self-diagnosis and the actual performance meeting. Even if you don’t have this system in place, take the initiative to review your own performance in advance of the meeting. Write down examples of how you think you’ve performed against your job objectives. Try to start the meeting off with your self-assessment and then ask your boss for their reactions to your perspective. Now you have positioned your boss as a partner, providing feedback from management’s perspective … not a judge and jury.
- Secondly, performance reviews were traditionally tied to salary reviews: at your review meeting, they told you what your raise would be. Today, the two are often separated. Current thinking is that there is no need for you to wait a full year to get a course correction. Reviews are now known to be more effective on a quarterly, monthly, or even weekly basis. The BIG annual review, then, is simply a summary of all of the feedback conversations over the past year.
- If your boss doesn’t have a scheduled feedback process for you … ASK! And keep asking until you feel you’re getting enough information on your performance. One way to measure the quality and quantity of feedback is to notice if there are any surprises for you in your formal performance review. If the answer is “yes,” you and your boss need more communication. You should never have to wait the full performance period to discover that you’re missing the mark. So don’t wait around for someone to offer feedback … just ask for it – often!
It may come as a surprise to many employees to learn that there is no conspiratorial plotting behind the performance reviews they receive. Organizations bent on retaining the best people and helping them get even better will use the performance review as an opportunity to encourage both managers and employees to achieve greater heights.