Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to conduct a memorable performance review

This article is written from the point of view of what happens when a performance review is badly managed.  Organizations that follow responsible performance management programs ensure that employees have a clear view of their expectations and performance standards and that anything that needed to be addressed during the year was addressed when it occurred.  The performance review process should therefore contain no surprises.  Moreover, the process should be transparent, in that the employee is fully aware of the discussion before he or she enters the room. Lastly, I would suggest that performance reviews are built on trust and respect, therefore it is of the utmost importance that the performance review methodology for the organization is well documented and supported with tools, processes and training for managers. When a performance review is mishandled and an employee is mistreated in the process, it is nearly impossible to regain the trust of the employee, if at all. Here is a link that I find useful in describing what a good performance review process looks like.

1.  Do not set goals and targets with your employees. That way, you can change the expectations and hold them accountable at the same time.  As an added benefit, you never risk any financial rewards. This saves the company time and money!

2.  Do not set weightings. That way, employees can be flexible and responsive to whatever needs to be done throughout the year.  Employees will rely on you every day for your excellent micro-management capabilities in balancing priorites and making decisions about how to spend their time. You will be god in their eyes. 

3.  Set up a special meeting at year end (as close to Christmas as possible is best) and send the official blank template. Ask the employee to record accomplishments, giving the person the opportunity to show off a little.  But don't let them know what will happen next. Being surprised is part of the fun and makes for nimble employees.  

4. Be Earnest! Carefully review and study their document before the meeting, in complete isolation.  Make changes to their document but do not share it with the employee.  That way, you are in control of the situation, and the employee will be surprised, and possibly speechless.

 5.  Meet face-to-face. Surprise the employee  with a new document full of your good advice and surprises. Focus your feedback on non-work related content. After all, they already know what they did. See this as an excellent coaching opportunity to make the employee not only a better employee, but a better person. You might want to comment on their fashion sense, style, voice and body language. Make recommendations for improvement. 

6.   Stay on task so that you get all your points across regardless of the employee`s reaction. This way, you can communicate your valuable insights and reinforce your keen interest in their success.  As well, the employee is less likely to use the `no goals`defense strategy because the employee will be focused on matters of a personal nature. In football and in the boardroom, a good offence is a great defence.

7. During the meeting, monitor your email and text messages so that you can demonstrate how customer responsive you are. This will teach the employee two valuable lessons. 1.  Customers always come first in business. 2.  Employees always come second. 

8. During the meeting, answer your phone, every time it rings.  See number 7.
9. Give the employee an opportunity to vet your personal opinions against those of their mentors.  Offer to change your opinion if the employee's mentors disagree with your insights. This will demonstrate that you are an open-minded, fair and a reasonable leader who is concerned for your employee`s well-being. 

 10. After the employee has been excused, tell him or her this is not over yet. That way, the employee will be on the edge of the seat waiting for your next meeting. 


Janis Campbell said...

10 steps are easy for managers to remember and, when spaced over time and during the festive season in December, secures their full attention. I would have found an observation regarding the number of employees with whom a manager should work this process in December insightful. The fact many corporations or small businesses have yet to complete their financial or statistical year ends in December also adds an element of suspense. Thank you. Janis

Lynear Thinking Strategy and Communications Consulting Ltd. said...

Thank you for your comment. I will do some research and update. As this blog is satirical, I have to say that in my experience as a leader and as an employee, the best performance reviews are those that are based on clear objectives and expectations, and a supportive and respectful environment. Performance reviews are about performance - what was accomplished and is not the forum for personal discussions. That breaks the trust and can ruin the relationship with the employee. In addition, since most reviews occur behind closed doors, it is even more important to follow clear rules. This link provides a great format, and is consistent with the practices of organizations that I have been involved with.