Performance reviews can be great, informal, and meaningful, but like so many other things in the world of work, most companies get it wrong.
I’ve written about performance reviews a few times, but it’s such an important topic that it’s worth spending some more time on. I really think it boils down to authenticity.
As a manager, do you actually care about improving this employee’s performance? Or are you simply doing this because someone in HR told you to?
If your intent is genuine, then I think the process is already on the right track because the manager will take it seriously. I’ll go through a few tips when it comes to how to implement performance reviews, in the hopes that it helps managers out there to be better at this.
The Importance Of Setting Goals
Taking a step back, before you can implement a proper performance review, the performance that they’re being reviewed on has to be crystal clear. There are many employees that aren’t clear of what’s expected of them throughout the year, so they’re being judged unfairly.
A goal-setting theory that I’m just starting to learn about is called Objectives and Key Results (OKR’s). It’s actually how companies like Google and Intel set their goals, and you have to imagine that they know what they’re doing.
Without going into too much detail, one of the key things about OKR’s is that they’re very specific and measurable. That’s a very important point.
So instead of saying to an employee “you need to make more sales”, you say something like “you should make 60 sales by June 30th”, that’s very easily quantifiable and leaves no room for ambiguity.
If you’re interested in learning about OKR and how Google implements it, this talk is informative, but it’s a little long.
Use Data To Help
As a manager, if you’re trying to write an employee evaluation based on your memory, you’re just making your life harder than it needs to be.
You should be continuously surveying your employees to see how everything is going. Using the data from those weekly reports will help you be better prepared.
There are many tools you can use and many ways to do this, but the point is to be collecting data throughout the year so that in the performance review you’re better prepared.
It also helps avoid any chance of an employee arguing with you since the data doesn’t lie. If you showed up empty to a meeting and said something constructive, you’d have a much better time making your case if you have some data to back you up.
Implement Frequent Feedback
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If the first time the employee hears feedback on something is in a performance review, you’re doing something wrong.
There shouldn’t be any major surprises during the performance review, so it’s important that you meet with employees frequently throughout the year to provide feedback. Quarterly reviews are good for this because they can be less formal and help keep things frequent.
Make It A Conversation
This is probably the most important tip I’ll share. The key word here is conversation. This isn’t a lecture; you want it to be an informal conversation.
Let the employee do most of the talking and find out how you can be better for them.
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new. – J.P McEvoy
Ask the employee questions like:
-What role do you see yourself playing in the company this year?
-How can I be a better manager to you?
-How often would you like to meet for feedback?