As a human resources professional, I think we should approach performance reviews more like we're driving a car. Let me explain: If you find yourself veering off into a ditch, you make the correction right away instead of waiting until the last minute.
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Traditionally, however, performance reviews have been last-minute affairs. They have long been held on an annual basis, requiring managers to conjure up a year's worth of achievements and challenges for each specific employee.
By changing the way you carry out and think about performance reviews, you can provide lasting value for your business.
Here are five ways you can add value to your company's performance review strategy:
1. Challenge Managers and Employees to See Reviews as an Ongoing Process
Keep a file of employees' wins, challenges, and what they're doing to help elevate the company in terms of its goals, missions, and core values. This will allow you to avoid the "recency effect," in which people unintentionally place too much emphasis on recent accomplishments, challenges, and setbacks.
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By frequently addressing performance-related milestones and challenges throughout the year, you can help employees course-correct when it counts, rather than saving all your feedback for one meeting a year. Consider introducing weekly one-on-one meetings with team members or quarterly meetings to discuss goals.
2. Make the Process Interactive
There are a few ways to make performance reviews more interactive. One example is to request employees conduct self-reviews prior to their formal meetings. This will allow you to get their take on their strengths and areas for improvement.
You can also give employees your completed performance review prior to the meeting so they can process your feedback before sitting down to discuss it. Doing this will open up opportunities for a more conversational approach to reviews.
If possible, hold performance reviews in a relaxed setting, like a coffee shop away from the office. This creates an environment where employees feel more comfortable and more willing to open up about their successes and challenges.
3. Align Team Members' Goals With the Company's
People need to see how their tasks and responsibilities relate to the overall success of the company. It can be especially difficult for employees to see how they're impacting the company when they have roles that aren't directly related to the company's main product or service.
For example, Global University's mission is to facilitate higher education and help students obtain their degrees. Staff members who are not working directly with students can feel unattached to the institution. It is important for managers to show these employees how their work directly impacts the goals, values, and mission of the school.
4. Look Forward, Not Backward
Performance reviews should help employees figure out what their goals and career paths will look like going forward. Reviews are the perfect time to talk to employees about whether and how they can expand their roles. Some people are always striving to gain more knowledge, expand their responsibilities, and move up the ladder. Other people, however, aspire to nurture their positions for the rest of their careers. As a manager, you cannot help people achieve their goals if you are not continually having these conversations with employees.
5. Use a Uniform System
An effective way to carry out valuable performance reviews is for your company to hold all performance reviews at one single point during the year, rather than based on each individual employee's anniversary.
Doing an annual review is different from conducting a regular check-in with an employee, and supervisors needs to have a different mindset in order to maximize the opportunity. It's easier for managers to focus on all of their employees at one time, rather than having to constantly shift mindsets multiple times per year.
Lastly, a well-rounded performance review should involve a structured follow-up process. If there's no follow-up, all of those goals you worked to set will be forgotten and go unattained.
Meghann Isgan is the team success manager at Readers.com.