Why focus on performance reviews and appraisals?
It’s that time of year again when managers and their staff are preparing for performance reviews and appraisals. It’s a topic that can be very emotive. If done well it’s a tremendous opportunity to build engagement, generate fresh energy, and position the organisation for growth and innovation. If done poorly or not at all, performance reviews can be serious demotivators and lead to organisational stagnation and attrition.
Performance reviews and appraisals and how to do them well were the subject of animated discussion in two recent management courses that Elisabeth Goodman and Janet Burton ran with One Nucleus and with the Herts Chamber of Commerce. The following are some of the key points that emerged from these and our previous work supporting SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in particular with their performance review and appraisal processes.
1. Performance reviews are a 2-way process
The review should be, in transactional analysis terms (Eric Berne 1960s), an “adult to adult” conversation jointly owned by the individual and their manager. For the employee it is a time to get formal feedback on their work and to plan what they will be doing in the coming year. For the manager it is an opportunity to provide that formal feedback and direction. A manager could create an opening for that 2-way discussion by asking such questions as: “How could I help you to make 2015 a real success?”
2. There should be no surprises
Although the formal review takes place once a year, it should definitely not be the first time that comments on requirements for improvement, or positive feedback are exchanged. Nor should it be the first time that issues with or adjustments to objectives are first discussed. These things are relevant to day-to-day work and should be discussed as they arise.
3. Objectives should cascade down from the organisation’s goals
What is often quite striking when we work with SMEs is how well connected and engaged people usually are with their organisational goals. There is a clear connection with what the organisation wishes to achieve and the individual’s role in supporting that goal. This is something that can be harder to achieve in larger organisations where there can be quite a gap between the two and quite a delay before objectives are confirmed for the coming year.
4. Performance reviews are an excellent opportunity to support personal and professional development
This aspect of personal objectives is what helps to make the discussion a two-way process. As SMEs are by definition often small there may be limited opportunities for progression through management ranks, but this should not be an excuse for limiting career development. Motivators for people in SMEs are often self-actualisation or, in the words of Dan Pink, mastery and autonomy. Providing opportunities for personal and professional development should be possible whatever the size of the organisation.
5. Make sure that your objectives are SMART
People may be dismissive of acronyms but this one is a useful one to ensure that both the individual and their manager are unambiguously clear about what they have agreed and how the successful achievement of objectives will be assessed, whatever the individual meaning of the letters. We use the terms Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed and that seemed to work for the delegates on our courses!
How effective is your performance review process?
Do you have variations on these five golden rules?
Let us know if you would like us to tailor our performance review and appraisal training to help you with your process and coach your managers and staff for greater engagement, innovation and growth. You can also read more about this topic and other ways to create high performance teams in Elisabeth’s book “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook” now available from Amazon as well as through the RiverRhee Publishing website.
Other news and upcoming courses and events
RiverRhee gained Cogent Sector Skills Council accreditation during September, which, amongst other things, means that our courses can reach more small businesses across the UK. We are offering our Introduction to Management, Introduction to Lean Sigma, and also Managing Change courses through Cogent.
We will be active on the Project Management front again in the coming weeks. Elisabeth is now leading the Capabilities and Methods Pillar for APM’s Enabling Change SIG (Specific Interest Group). She will be co-presenting at APM’s Project Management in Practice event on behalf of the SIG, and will also be running the Effective Project Management course for TFPL in November.
Finally, do come and find John Riddell, Sue Parkins and Elisabeth on exhibition stand 2 at One Nucleus’s Genesis event in London on 9th December
If you would like to find out more
Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams. See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.