I wonder sometimes if the reason there are so many complaints about annual performance reviews is because people find them boring. Let’s face it – it’s the same process using the same form. And if the goal is for employees to have consistent performance, that means that managers are discussing the same thing with employees. Every year. Long-term employees have participated in the same process each year for what seems like an eternity.
Break the longer annual review conversation into smaller discussions-I once worked for a company that had a series of small conversations instead one long performance discussion. The conversations focused on goal setting, performance, career development and progress towards goals. Both the manager and employee knew what the conversation was going to focus on, but it was brief and to the point.
Add a stay interview component- Companies can include a few questions during the performance review meeting about the reasons an employee enjoys working for the company or the tasks they particularly like about their job. Learn why employees stay so those things don’t change.
Ask employees to do a self-evaluation. Give employees a copy of their last review and ask them to rate their own performance. Managers get time to reflect and prepare to discuss an employee’s performance. The employee should get the same. Doing a self-review can be eye-opening for both the employee and the manager.
Incorporate goal setting. Performance review conversations do not have to be completely focused on the past. This is a great opportunity to talk about company goals and how an employees work aligns with those goals. Ask employees to come prepared to discuss 1-2 goals they would like to accomplish.
Train managers to ask for feedback. I realize the performance review is typically about an employee’s performance but, just because they’re getting feedback doesn’t mean they can’t give some. This is a great time for managers to get feedback about their performance. Ask the question – “How I can support your goals?” Or ask employees to come to the meeting prepared to give one piece of feedback.
Performance reviews do not have to be stale and boring. Companies do not have to do something radical to make them fresh. Break up the conversations. Add some different components to performance reviews. Train managers (and employees) on getting and receiving feedback. And, when it doubt about what to change, ask employees and managers what they want.