Little Find

Are you ready for the annual reviews?

The two things managers hate most are firing and doing performance reviews,” notes business writer Kevin Kruse. “And the two things employees hate most are being fired and performance reviews”! However, the annual review process is not about to disappear any time soon. So how can managers make this essential management tool less painful and more productive?

Before the review
• Prepare by reflecting on multiple perspectives — Weeks in advance of the face-to-face meeting, the manager should begin reviewing the notes they have been keeping throughout the year on the employee’s performance. Managers should seek out feedback in writing from those who work in closest proximity to the employee and also seek out the employee’s input via a written self-appraisal. What is essential is to prepare specific, accurate feedback that takes into account multiple points of view in advance of the face-to-face meeting.
• Let employees see their appraisal in advance — At least an hour before the meeting takes place, give the employee a written copy of the appraisal, so they have time to process any emotional reactions and consider the feedback in private before discussing it face-to-face.

During the review
• Stop with the feedback “sandwiches”: sending a mixed message simply serves to demoralize high performers and falsely encourage poor performers. It is more effective to concentrate exclusively on what strong performers have done well and to confront poor performers on what they need to improve.
• Firmly explain rankings — The majority of companies require managers to rate employees, for instance on a scale of 1-5. Under such a system, most employees will likely receive the same rank, such as a “3.” And most employees will tend to interpret this negatively, thinking it means they are just “average,” or producing mediocre work. It is a key manager responsibility to explain the meaning of the ranking; for example, does a rank of “3” indicate the employe is successfully meeting expectations or not?
• Focus on the future — The annual review is as much about setting new goals as evaluating past ones. Lack of career development is the number one reason employees leave their company!

Business testimony
In 2011, advisory-services firm LRN implemented a new annual review system called “Principled Performance Review Process,” which has each employee select 20 of their peers to grade them on about 40 performance questions. After reading the peer evaluations, the employee then gives him or herself a ranking that determines the bonus they will receive that year. The self-assigned rankings are published internally for everyone to see.

Watch the video
How to Deliver a Negative Performance Review

Giving a negative performance review can be one of the most stressful tasks a manager faces. Employment and labor attorney David Goldman explains why it’s important to be upfront.

Caroline Schuurman
Published by Caroline Schuurman