Surprise! It’s performance review season. Almost like our birthdays, formal reviews come just once a year. Performance reviews are often seen as the entire measure of an employee’s contributions. However, they’re really only one piece of the puzzle. To get the most out of the annual review, the process should be comprised of numerous robust, two-way conversations throughout the year.
Whether you’re the employee or boss, if you’re feeling anxious walking into a performance review, that’s a sure-fire sign it has been too long since the last in-depth conversation. It can leave both parties feeling vulnerable to some surprises.
Looking to paint a complete picture with your team members? Consider this:
– Once the annual performance review is complete, schedule other conversations and touch points before the next “big” meeting.
– Set up 30 minutes a few days after the review, even if the employee received 5 stars, to see what they’re thinking. “Wanted to be sure you felt we covered everything the other day. Anything else on your mind?” That gesture alone will go a long way.
– Set up weekly check-ins with individuals to keep in touch about challenges, wins, and general questions or issues. “You’re making great progress on that project. Any roadblocks you’re encountering that I can help remove?”
– If weekly meetings aren’t feasible, set aside one hour each month to connect about the events from the month. Use the time to understand his/her mindset, issues, or wins. Provide feedback about what you saw them doing well, or coach where you saw room for improvement, encouraging a dialogue with the team member to understand their point of view.
– Keep an email folder to save emails from colleagues and clients about your team member’s awesomeness. “Hi, Jackie. Just wanted you to know what a great job Kate has been doing on our project. She has really built a sense of trust with our entire team.” Leaders may often get these emails, then simply do nothing to acknowledge them. Save these, and refer to the folder as reminders to give accolades or provide improvement feedback based on trends you see.
– Use the annual review as a way to review previous conversations with individuals. Build upon the dialogue instead of starting from scratch every time.
– Hold team members accountable for their own improvements and growth. When feedback is given, ask team members to come back a few days later or the next week with 1-2 actions to take to make a change or try something new. This could be as simple as, “When we met, you mentioned you wanted to learn more about data analytics. Let me know what steps you see to get you on that path.”
Remember, the best surprises are saved for birthdays, not performance reviews. Active and ongoing dialogue ensures no surprises during formal reviews and instills a sense of balance and trust among leaders and team members.
Wishing you a great review and even better weekly conversations!
– Jackie Simon