Are you frustrated by how long Performance Reviews take, but how little they achieve?
There are 4 steps to turning Performance Reviews from a box-ticking exercise you ‘just have to do’ into important conversations that actually lift individual and therefore business performance.
Step 1 – Measure what Actually Matters
So often Performance Reviews are a ‘laundry list’ of vague statements and unrealistic 5-point scales. The quickest and easiest way to complete them (euphemism for ‘get them over with’) is to give mostly 3’s and a few 4’s to your best people.
We tend to measure what’s easy to measure rather than what really matters. When you begin with what really matters you will have a shorter and more poignant list of criteria.
The 5-point scale used by so many organisations is really only a 3-point scale in practice. Underperformers get a 2, and are so pleased they’re not the worst! The vast majority of staff get a 3 because they ‘meet expectations’. The very good staff are not pleased about being ‘average 3’. Only the highest performers get a 4 ‘exceeds expectations’, and these high performers are disappointed to not get a 5. No one is perfect enough to get a 5.
Step 2 – Both ‘What’ and ‘How’ Matter
What people achieve and how they achieve it matters ie. the results matter and so do the behaviours demonstrated to achieve these results. Do you reward the person who hits all the KPI’s even though you know they reached these by ‘stretching the truth’ with clients and ‘blocking their colleagues’?
Step 3 – Train Your Managers to do Performance Reviews Effectively
There are two parts to this training and you need both parts.
- Part 1 – train them to use the Performance Review system so that they won’t be frustrated trying to navigate it, and they actually pay attention to the criteria.
- Part 2 – train them to have effective performance conversations. Without training, it is very unlikely they are having the conversations they need to have with their underperformers or that ‘toxic’ team member.
Step 4 – Make 1:1 Meetings Matter
If the Performance Review is an annual event that, once completed, is pushed aside until next year, then it is the waste of time so many people ‘roll their eyes’ about.
It needs to be the central core from which meaningful goals are set, and actions and behaviours are agreed. These need to be tracked and achieved during the months ahead and 1:1 meetings should be used to track these, to hold people to account and to remove obstacles to enable them to hit their goals and master these behaviours.
How effective are Performance Reviews in your organisation? Which of these four steps is your organisation good at and which do they really need to improve?