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Performance Reviews (insert scream); Do We Really Need Them?

Note: This is a bit longer than normal.

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I'm not kidding about the scream. Talk to just about anyone and I'm sure most will say performance reviews fill them with fear. It brings back early childhood traumas of teachers calling you less than intelligent and parents yelling: you are not applying yourself. In fact, I hate calling them performance reviews.

Do we really need them? The answer to that is mixed. For sure there are two camps on this subject; the we need them versus the they are demoralizing. I personally sit firmly in the middle. There are times when I like to do them and times I hate them. Enjoying one done on me depends on if the person doing it enjoys it and is engaging. One key tip for doing them on others, be engaged in the process. Hating giving reviews will equal not being engaged and thus, your employee being stressed out. Its not just a key, it's the key.

When I first started as a manager, I would hand out the long questionnaire we are used to. You know the one. Pick a number between one and five, with five being you don't relate to the comment at all.

How would you rate your performance?

Do you think you use tools given to you?

Do you think you go above and beyond?

Duh, like I'm going to be honest. Yea, I think my work performance is ok, enough to get a raise but I'm going to say I'm excellent, so I look confident. Even so, my boss would look at it and say, You sure rate yourself high, we don't see eye-to-eye at all. Which in itself is a huge problem because no two humans can be expected to see the same way.

Eventually, I learned about the power of mentoring and goal setting. Why take a piece of paper and rate a persons performance on some generic questions that could be argued? A good manager does several things:

  1. He/She cares about who they manage.
  2. He/She wants to see the team succeed above their own accomplishments.
  3. He/She wants to be a mentor to those they manage.
  4. He/She wants tailor specific goals to specific people.
  5. Attempts to move the monetary review away from the performance review.

Caring means you will hold them in high regard and wanting them to succeed is just simply a good quality to have. Trust me, let it go, letting others in your team shine will make you look like a good manager. Try it, you have nothing to lose. Being a mentor sets up a dynamic of trust that you need. You want to see this person grow professionally and personally. Its not just lip service that you say your organization is a family, so be one. Goals, specifically SMART goals (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound) are and will be the new measure for the next review. Its a heck of a lot more fun than some generic wordage on an old photocopied sheet of paper. Finally, too many of us expect a monetary review at the performance review. Youve been thinking about that new red truck, you and your boss don't see eye-to-eye, no raise. Life sucks and anything said in the performance review is lost.

So, here is what I do, because it works. Much of this is a hybrid of things picked up from MBA school, old managers, my Father, Bill Yanek at Centric Management, and Pat Lencioni, who wrote; Death by Meeting.

If you have well written job descriptions and provide tools to do the job. You will have things to work on over time. Good performance reviews are collaborative efforts and end in goals that both cater to what the employee and the company wants; progress in doing better. Doing better might be personal, or it might be professional.

Assuming an employee has at least worked for you a few months, you can sit down and talk about how things have been going. Try to come with three areas you want to see the employee improve in and why. Then sit and discuss what that means to both of you. Anything you discuss in this meeting and put into goals will become the metric by which you will measure their performance at the next review.

Goals to work on should come from a variety of areas and needs, including: direct measure of performance (widgets created per hour, lack of injuries per month, etc), adjustment in behavior (maybe you are working to help this person with some harassment issues, maybe they are learning to listen better, etc), and dont forget to help them further their personal goals. Maybe they always wanted to become a public speaker, setting them up to go to Toastmasters would be a great goal to complete.

Some people will need to be met with less than others. Some will have more goals than others. Everyone is different and you need to treat each that way. No two people are motivated in exactly the same way.

Make sure you set anywhere from a quarterly to at maximum yearly times to meet. The more you meet the more you can adjust and help find success. Regardless, what I urge you to do is to set up a 30 minute meeting every two weeks to chat about how the goals and life is going. Remember, you care.

But wait, what about raises? I believe that money is a stressor, and performance needs to be evaluated away from the time raises are given. Keep two schedules; one is the schedule of meeting to go over the review and the other is the times you will evaluate pay. Make adjustments as needed and in reflection of how performance reviews have been going, but only at either a six month or yearly time. Point is, keep them apart.

Also, keep this quote from Goethe in mind: Treat people as if they we're what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.

Posted in Other Home Post Date 05/01/2017


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