We all have either said or heard (or both) ‘oh no! not again!!’ on announcement of the Annual performance reviews at the workplace. It is no secret that very few companies end up actually improving at the conclusion of the tedious review process. In fact, refer to the umpteen polls, surveys out there and one can realise that these annual reviews tend to do more harm than any good.
As more & more teams move away from the Ranking Systems, Bell Curves & Annual Reviews it becomes imperative to understand how some companies have managed to make Performance Reviews more meaningful & effective.
Planning – Execution – Review – Learning
It is important to remember that Performance Reviews is just one of the steps involved in Performance Management. If a team fails to give equal if not more attention to the other steps in the process – the recipe for an ineffective Performance is already cooked.
Here is a quick run-through of the steps involved in the Performance Management process. We have added a couple of characteristics for each step that’ll help you improve the overall process.
Being aware of the expectations is the pre-requisite for performing up to Company’s expectations. Setting Goals that are objectively measurable is of prime importance. Various management philosophies such as SMART, MBO, OKR suggest different approaches to the Goal Setting process. Common to all of them is the necessity to have quantifiable goals.
Of synonymous importance, irrespective of the underlying philosophy, is the need to have the Goals agreed upon by all the stakeholders. Goals that are too easy to achieve or too lofty to aim for will eventually turn out to be counter-productive. Best way to plan and agree on these goals is for the Manager & the Team member to collaborate over a face-2-face discussion.
Goals that are dictated rather than collaborated are known to loose the edge over time.
Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail, but what about execution? Isn’t it more frequent to come across situations when the plan had to be improvised during execution than when the plan was followed to minute details?
Tracking the execution to ensure midway course corrections becomes necessity. Providing continuous & constructive feedback to the team members will increase the chances of their success. Follow the mantra ‘There is no over-communication.’
Monitoring the progress over time will give the managers a closer look into the team member’s personality – her strengths & weaknesses. And that is when Coaching & Mentoring the team members for success becomes critical. Coaching members after the fact will always be case of too late, ensure immediate attention to areas of improvement.
Bringing a sense of transparency & justness to the performance review process has always been a challenge for Companies. More closed the process, less effective it becomes in the long run. Not only use objective evaluation methods but also talk about them openly – in all hands or town halls. Perception of the transparency is as important as the fact itself. Listen to the feedback from team members and ensure the actions taken are communicated personally to them.
Most companies are moving away from annual reviews – year is too long a duration to be spent without assessing the impact of efforts invested so far. Conduct reviews at least two times a year & improvise goals based on the data at hand. Some teams even resort to a monthly informal review and then do a formal review process every quarter.
Whichever approach suits your culture, annual reviews is surely not going to help you keep the overall process effective.
Intent for Continuous Improvement
The overall performance management process will only succeed if there is intent for continuous improvement from all the involved. If the process is completed just for the sake of completion, it’ll eventually become ineffective.
Thus it is important to imbibe an attitude of continuous learning at the workplace. Improvements however small ones, should be rewarded and recognised.
Action Plan after performance review
All the efforts will be meaningless if there is no action plan at the end of the process. This step is of huge importance as it sends out a positive signal to the whole company that – intention is to become better as a result of this exercise rather than just complete a mechanical process.
Make sure Action Plan from the previous review process is reviewed in the next one, again – it is very important to create a plan that can actually be measured.
The day all stakeholders in the Review process start to treat it as just one spoke in the Performance Management wheel, the process becomes more fulfilling and concludes in betterment of the people involved.
What other characteristics have you found to make the review process more effective at your workplace? Share your experience in the comments.