Discover how performance reviews can bring out the best in your employees.
– 5 mins read –
Performance reviews: just the words can fill us with dread, whether manager or team member. We surveyed 150 people last week on the words that sprung to mind, and they included “difficult conversations”, “delivering bad news”, “time-consuming”, “negative”, “hard”. But we see performance reviews as a real opportunity to have positive discussions – and we would like to share a few pointers to help you sail through them this year.
Firstly, performance reviews need to be meaningful and impactful to the employee and should leave them feeling valued, confident, better prepared and more motivated. Whether you call them appraisals, evaluations, year-end performance reviews or 180 degree feedbacks, these sessions can so often go off-track. We recommend you begin by setting a positive intention for the outcome of each conversation and keep your intention in mind from start to finish. In this way, you can focus on getting the highest performance while also strengthening relationships, employee engagement and retention.
A typical performance review is held as a year-end conversation. One of the hardest conversations to have, they are most beneficial if held as just one of a series of on-going conversations. To avoid surprises at the end of the year, it’s important to have regular meetings throughout the year, checking not only performance but also looking out for any lack of alignment. After all, investing time to prepare properly for each employee’s year-end performance review is time saved during the rest of the year.
How do we guarantee our performance reviews deliver their full impact?
Capture regular examples you can share that will serve to improve performance, behaviour and relationships. When did they miss, achieve or exceed? What was their behaviour before, during, after? What was the impact on the team and the organization? Over the years, managers and employees alike have come to think that only negative feedback is constructive and tend to dismiss positive feedback. Having real examples ensures that all feedback is perceived as genuine and valuable. Some employees feel threatened just hearing the word “feedback” (again, because we so often have negative connotations). And many managers find it a real challenge to deliver the feedback that people need to hear, particularly when they want an employee to change their behaviour.
We have created a Coaching Feedback Framework that allows employees to identify their own strengths and recognize where they need to improve. It helps managers to acknowledge and celebrate these strengths and successes, clearly communicate any changes they want to see and to consolidate the employee’s valuable insights and learning from the feedback process. The Coaching Feedback Framework makes it easy for a manager to lay the groundwork so an employee is receptive (and eager for) feedback, while building their self-esteem and motivation to elicit the highest possible performance in the next year.
But feedback is just one part of the appraisal conversation. A truly successful performance review needs a clear structure that includes preparation, context setting, feedback, actions and accountability. Coaching skills will ensure clarity, collaboration and positivity that all create a possibility for your employees to grow, develop and achieve their career aspirations. Performance management built on a coaching approach is perfect for developing and retaining top talent and leads to greater alignment and better-performing employees at all levels.
It’s important that the review process isn’t seen as a necessary evil, to tick a box. It needs to be part of the values of the organization, and part of the fabric of the organization’s culture – its system of shared assumptions, values and beliefs which govern how people behave in an organization.
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If you are interested to learn more about our coaching roadmap for successful year-end conversations, our coaching skills workshops, e-Learning modules or live webinars such as “5 Steps to Successful Performance Reviews”, please email [email protected] or call +44 (0)20 3903 0011.
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Sir John and his colleagues at Performance Consultants were the first to take coaching into the workplace and coined the term “performance coaching” in the early 1980s. We continue to lead the field in performance improvement through coaching leadership training.
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