We’re on the march again…the annual Rite to trash and/or discontinue performance reviews. Check out the blaring headlines and the time line. I’m confident if we go back pre-2006, we’d see similar sentiment.
After all of this haranguing, a mere 1% of all major companies have elected to scrap the process. Employees need to get feedback. And, I’m confident that nothing will get done in the absence of a formal process. And this is before we introduce “litigation protection” into the discussion.
In his post this week, David Witt referenced a recent webinar survey where seminar participants where asked “Do you believe that you, as an employee benefited from your last review with your supervisor?” Over 58% said “no”. Three key components were then identified as making up a successful performance management system:
- Clear, agreed-upon goals.
- Consistent day-to-day coaching designed to help people succeed.
- No surprises at performance review.
“The core of their message was that it’s all about trust and respect. Organizations that treat people as valued team members by taking the time to structure jobs their properly, provide direction and support as needed, and focus more on helping people succeed instead of evaluating them, are the ones that create engaging work cultures that bring out the best in people.”
I would also suggest that the tone of the review process needs to shift – – shift from the traditional “how can I fix your developmental areas” (code for weaknesses) to a focus on “how your strengths have added value to the organization” and how these strengths can be further leveraged. (Think Tanveer Naseer & Marcus Buckingham here.)
As to the drum beat of eliminating the performance review process, my view aligns with an HBR Blog post titled: “Ditching Performance Reviews? How About We Learn To Do Them Well?
Here’s my Do’s and Don’ts list:
Done right, performance reviews take a considerable amount of effort. There are no short cuts here. You need to have established a trusting relationship with your employee. They need to respect you to take the feedback in the spirit that it is intended. You need to have established clear goals upfront. Your employee needs to understand your expectations and the firm’s mission. You need to review progress against goals on an ongoing basis. You are best served in keeping a log or diary of the employees’ accomplishments to complete the actual review. You should be providing real-time feedback to the employee on an ongoing basis so there are no surprises at mid-year or year end.
Is it any wonder then, why most performance reviews are a disaster? Why they cause so much anxiety for the boss and for the employee. It takes real work on top of the daily crush. And most of us would just as soon avoid a potential confrontation. Yet, as they say, “there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject…
Sources: (1) Tanveer Naseer: How to Give Feedback To Employee. (2) David Witt: How Would Your Employees Answer These Five Questions About Your Corporate Culture. (3) Marcus Buckingham: Now, Discover Your Strengths & StandOut. The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment. (4) Harvard Business Review: Ditch Performance Reviews? How About Learn To Do Them Well?