Performance Management is More Than an Annual Review
Written by: Bryan JonesSally Tate
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The phrase “Annual Review” is associated with endless feelings of frustration, anxiety, concern, fear, and stress. The annual review was designed with the right intentions – to provide employees with feedback on their performance over the past year. Over time, it has morphed into a singular event that stirs up a lot of unpleasant feelings for both the employees and the managers who have to perform them. Part of the problem is that we’ve put too much focus on one conversation. A year has 12 months, 365 days, and 2,080 working hours. How can all that time be summed up into 1 hour-long conversation?
Instead, it may be more beneficial to everyone to begin administrating a series of conversations and coaching opportunities throughout the year. Let’s take the pressure off the annual review and focus time and attention into more regular performance check-ins. A great annual review would be a summary of the conversations that are held throughout the year.
With regular dialogue and a commitment to constructive feedback and personal development, every organization can turn this process into both a positive and productive experience for everyone involved. Let’s break this down a little further:
Meet in-person: We live in a technology world, where having face-to-face conversations is becoming easier to avoid. Having an in-person conversation, where tone can’t be misconstrued, is a crucial step to this process.
Meet monthly or quarterly: Scheduling regular meetings to discuss performance forces everyone to pause and reflect in an increasingly busy world. It is much easier to sum up a month’s worth of work than it is to sum up a full year.
Keep it casual: The conversation can take place while walking around the construction site or while waiting in the airport for a layover. Meeting over lunch or coffee may help de-escalate any anxiety around the conversation and can simply be more fun. The key takeaway: It doesn’t have to be in a conference room; the important part is that the meeting takes place.
Check in often: Take time to talk about things outside of performance. Get feedback about a project or ask open-ended questions. How are things going? How’s life outside of work? Is there anything going on at home that may be impacting the day-to-day? These questions spark a conversation and put active listening skills to work.
Constructive Feedback and Development:
Praise and gratitude: Take a moment to genuinely congratulate an employee for specific accomplishments or efforts. Specifically acknowledging an accomplishment gives recognition more meaning. A little praise and gratitude can go a long way to make an employee feel appreciated and engaged within the organization.
Candid and honest feedback: We all make mistakes. If something doesn’t go quite right, address it head on. Share the specific action and unintended consequence, explain why it is important feedback, and then move on. Don’t dwell on it or make it bigger than what it is. Top performers want to know how they can improve. The sooner corrective feedback is given, the easier the conversation will be and the sooner the employee is able to apply feedback.
Coaching conversations: Is there a behavior or a perception that needs to be addressed more fully? Take time to walk the employee through their decision-making process. Guide them through questions and scenarios to better understand the situation. If led correctly, the employee will reach the same conclusion without you having to tell them.
Individual Development: Make time to discuss individual development plans. What skills, training, or experiences does the employee need in order to be promoted or transferred into a new role? What goals does the employee have? Do they align with the organization’s goals? If not, this is a great opportunity for some candid feedback. Remember, top performers want to know how they can improve, so saying they don’t have anything to work on can reduce motivation. Giving feedback is an important way to keep employees engaged.
In summary, break down one monumental conversation into smaller, more manageable check-ins. With simple documentation after each meeting, the annual review turns into one big summary of all your conversations throughout the past year. Using this method can increase employee engagement and foster positive relationships between managers and their employees.
Bryan Jones, Chief Administrative Officer
Bryan Jones brings a strong sense of strategy and vision to everything he does at Hourigan. Throughout the nearly two decades of his career, he has demonstrated diverse leadership and interpersonal skills to make a measurable difference in everything he touches. And that remarkable influence and skill goes beyond the business world.
Bryan is also a volunteer baseball, basketball, and softball coach. Both on and off the field, he excels in personnel management, logistics, and strategic planning.
Sally Tate, Director, People Strategies
Sally Tate is a key champion for attracting and retaining great talent for Hourigan’s team. Following years of experience with innovative, high-growth organizations like Snagajob and PartnerMD, she brings a dependable and personable attitude to everything she does. From managing the hiring process to ensuring a culture of excellence is found consistently throughout the company, she epitomizes leadership from the inside out.