Performance reviews – they’ve been around for decades in all forms, yet have we really stopped to think about what the true objectives are and whether or not we are meeting them? The answers to both of those questions will largely depend on who you ask – the company or the employee. For business owners and other organizational leaders, it is crucial to have employees that provide quality work and improve business results. The goal of any performance review should be to effectively communicate performance, while simultaneously providing updates on talent development and general guidance. From the employee perspective, the takeaway may look a little different. Employees want to know what it’s going to take to develop their career, review milestones, establish goals and of course, discuss opportunities for improved compensation.
There are many factors that a company can use to measure performance – business results, performance quality or quantity, job knowledge, resourcefulness, behaviors, innovation, sales, teamwork and interpersonal skills are just a few examples. The challenge then becomes establishing the style that best suits yourself, your employees, and your company.
Most commonly used performance reviews/feedback mechanisms:
- Rating scales
- Forced distribution – ranking of 3+ categories – a number judged and ranked against peers. Note: Many companies are abandoning this type of performance review. Examples of just a few are General Electric, Microsoft, and Adobe. GE may not have invented forced distribution/ranking, but it’s often the company that comes to mind with their practice of “eliminating the bottom 10%.”
- Peer review/self-evaluation
- Management by objective – specific, obtainable objectives with deadlines
- 360 degree feedback
- Non-traditional route – “The Conversation” or regular, informal feedback
With technology being what it is today, employees, and especially millennials, have developed a preference for continuous feedback. Progressive leaders are beginning to realize they need to provide regular, real-time feedback so employees can make adjustments and improve on a weekly or even daily basis.
Nearly 90% of managers are dissatisfied with their current performance review process and think it doesn’t yield accurate information, yet many continue down the same path, simply because that’s the way it’s always been conducted. There are alternatives, including everything from apps to a quick five-minute follow-up discussion once a project is complete.
A successful review system or program does not have to be complicated in order to be effective. Reviewing performance is a good practice, and it should occur frequently. Having “the conversation,” or providing consistent, constructive feedback is not only quick and easy, but it’s also been shown to increase productivity.
Regardless of your method of delivering performance feedback, below are some of the most common mistakes made when providing feedback to employees.
- Recency effect – using only information that is most current
- Rating inflation – providing “exceeds expectations” because it is easier than the difficult conversation
- Timing – don’t wait
- Distractions – turn off your phone, close your computer, give your undivided attention
- Bias – race, sex, age, religion bias can be unintentional but we need to be self-aware
- Too detailed
- Too vague
- Fear – create a nice balance of meaningful, constructive criticism
Consider these tips when delivering difficult feedback:
- Make it timely
- Ask for permission
- Comment on the behavior
- Listen to the other person respond
- Develop a game plan
- Recap the conversation
As with all initiatives, support from leadership is vital to the establishment of a true culture of feedback. Whether positive or constructive, everyone thrives and feels “in the know” with their performance when feedback mechanisms are strong.
Katrina Dietrich is a HR Consulting Manager at MCM CPAs & Advisor. Prior to joining MCM, Katrina developed a strong general HR background, gaining expertise in employee relations, recruitment, mentoring, training and development, in particular within the manufacturing and healthcare sectors.
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