5 Truths about Performance Reviews

Last week we went over 5 myths about performance reviews and how to better utilize them. Here's the follow up, 5 truths about performance reviews and why those truths are so critical to proper reviews of performance. 

Truth 1 - Follow up is as important, if not more, than the meeting itself 

Here’s the scenario; you, as an employee, have a great performance review. You get some praise on projects you’ve completed, some feedback on things that might not be working and upon walking out of the room, feel confident that you (and the business) are taking steps in the right direction (literally and figuratively). You keep working at a higher and higher level but after a while, it all starts to fade. You’re not getting praise or feedback, you’re not quite sure if you are doing things the right way or not and eventually you stop caring. 

I have seen this happen all too often, a great review gone to waste because there’s no plan to keep that motivation. 

Performance reviews don’t end when the meeting is over. They continue as formal and informal checkups between scheduled sit down times. That way both parties understand that what was discussed during the meeting  wasn’t just talk. 

At the end of you meeting, you (as the manager) should be setting the goals and expectations of where the employee should be by the next time they meet. Setting these expectations and following up on a somewhat regular basis ensures the employee’s objectives are always clear. 

Truth 2 - Report on qualitative AND quantitative data 

This is how most performance reviews are run;

  • how much did it cost
  • how much money did it make
  • how much time did it take 
  • assign a value to the employee’s effectiveness on this project 

That’s only looking at one side of a person’s objectives, look at things more qualitatively; 

  • what lessons were learned from this
  • is there a more effective process
  • can we expand on this role
  • what does the employee get out of this 

Truth 3 - Performance reviews are beneficial for both parties 

I can speak from personal experience, performance reviews work. They keep you, as an employee, honest with yourself about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. They allow the manager to see what you’ve done, what you’re doing and what you’re going to do. 

Reviews keep you on track with your personal goals, not just the business's goals. 

If you’re the manager, find out what works for each individual employee. Ask some of these questions throughout the meeting;

  • what do you think are your most challenging goals this quarter/year? 
  • what support can I provide to help you meet these goals? 
  • what do you hope the company accomplishes this year? 
  • how can I be a better manager for you? 
  • how often would you like feedback? 
  • how would you best measure your effectiveness? 

Questions like these make the employee feel more empowered and less like they’re just being told what to do, like everyone else. 

Truth 4 - But only if both parties prepare 

By nature, performance reviews are two way streets. The employer has to bring as much as the manager does. Having only one party prepared can quickly turn it into an ineffective interrogation. 

As a manager or employee, follow these loose guidelines to make sure you’re prepared for the best possible meeting; 

  • use self-evaluation prior to the meeting. have the employee self-evaluate themselves (cta to downloadable one). then you can compare/contrast what employee/employer is thinking. 
  • as the employee, know what you’ve done, what you’re doing, what you’re going to do. be honest. know the the value you’re adding to the company
  • as the manager, know what the employee has been up to, how their projects have been going, what team members have to say about this employee

Truth 5 - Focus on all time since last review, not just the past couple weeks/months 

Based on my own experiences, it’s really easy to just focus on the past couple weeks or month when doing a performance review. It's fresher in both parties' mind and easier to pull/remember constructive suggestions from. That’s not helping anyone - especially if you only have them once a year.

Having a motivated and efficient workforce is a marathon, not a sprint. Rushing to get a bunch of deliverables done on either end of the review is not going to fool any manager. Managers, make sure you're keeping detailed notes and updates of each employee's progress between reviews. Employees, keep track of your work! You don't want to play the guessing game with your manager. 

Check out Talent Quest if you want more ideas on talent/performance management!