Soon after I left Intel, I was reminded by a client it was performance review time. I was glad to be working for myself, performance reviews always seemed to be painful. It didn’t matter if I was giving them or on the receiving end. Were the results fair? Had I done a good job as the manager? Even when the review was good, there was the anxiety and anticipation leading up to it. In short, very few people enjoy the process but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Most of the pain around performance reviews is avoidable, but only if you are willing to start now. It is too late to change what happens in the current review cycle. Now is the time to make next year’s something you and your team not only don’t dread but appreciate.
Five Things to Start Now
- Set clear expectations for the coming year. Focus on outcomes not activities. Outcomes are results, things you can both assess if it has been achieved or not. Activities have no ending. When you are asked to do something, what is the result. Gallup reports only one half of workers strongly indicate they know what is expected of them.
- Explain what success looks like. How will you determine whether something has been achieved? What criteria will you use. Too often we know what success doesn’t look like but we need to share what it is like.
- Explain what you can and cannot control. This is very important when your team member is seeking a promotion. Unless you have full authority over promotion decisions, and most managers don’t, outline what is outside of your control. Can the scope of the role support a promotion? If not, can you change it or do you need to help the person find a new role?
- No surprises. Share regular candid feedback through the year, both positive and negative. Don’t hold back. Share your observations and the evidence to support them. How is the person performing against your expectations? Gain their viewpoint as well.
- Have conversations. Talk regularly and make the conversation truly two-way. Seek their opinions and ask them for evidence to back up their assertions. Teach them to be a better judge of their own performance. Invite them to give their assessment of their performance throughout the year.
If you do these five things well, you can look forward to next year’s annual performance reviews because you are doing your job, and doing it well.