Performance Reviews Suck: 10 Ways to Fix Them
YEC (Young Entrepreneur Council) surveyed some folks about how they would fix performance reviews. Here are their answers:
The consensus is performance reviews suck. How do we fix them?
1. Have Performance Records, Not Reviews
Performance reviews should be treated as a review of the management provided to an employee. They are not a time to raise new issues, but a record of issues previously addressed. Employees crave clear, unambiguous assessment. When managers lack the skills or confidence to provide this critical feedback, performance reviews are used as a crutch.
2. Instant Feedback
I strongly believe in providing instant feedback to employees. If someone is taking a wrong course, instant feedback enables them to immediately course correct rather than wait for a weekly or monthly review. Similarly, if one is on the right track, instant feedback increases enthusiasm and people usually walk the extra mile to deliver.
3. Make Performance Goals Mutual
When setting new goals and milestones going forward, do your best to quantify them. Make sure that the employee agrees that these are both attainable and desirable. If the new performance goals are truly fair to both parties, they can be used as an incentive for the employee.
4. Take the “Review” Out of Performance Reviews
Just using the word “review” entails that there is some kind of test and judgement — which defeats the purpose of what a performance review should really be. It should be a conversation that is open, compassionate and honest between employees and their managers and team members, put in place to achieve a larger goal and solve problems. Change your reviews into helpful, rewarding conversations.
5. Approach Feedback with Positivity
Being told how you can improve should never be considered a bad thing; we’re entrepreneurs. It’s how this information is relayed to us, either in a negative or positive light, that makes the difference. Transparency throughout the year in all your communications is more effective. This avoids employee stress and turns a performance review into a “remember when we talked about” session instead.
6. Make It Part of Your Daily/Weekly Interactions
I check the pulse of my team weekly: how they’re progressing and how they feel about the work they’re doing. I provide regular feedback: I salute them on a great project; and when something is not done correctly, we have a conversation about how the work can be improved. If I find that someone’s quality of work is declining, we grab coffee and discuss. Have conversations; not annual appraisals.
7. Get Rid of Performance Reviews Entirely
We’ve found that a much better solution than traditional performance reviews was to allow team members to take accountability into their own hands. After every quarter, they come to us and discuss their failure points, as they perceive them, and communicate their wins and the challenges they’ve overcome. This switches the focus away from the business and puts it on the team member, where it belongs.
8. Track Goals and Have Fun Days
Ideally we should have a quantifiable goal for each employee that is tied to an easily-tracked metric. We would then know on a daily and monthly basis whether they are on target. Then on the day of the review, each employee would get to do one fun off-site activity with their supervisor (lunch, golf, video games, etc) to actually talk about work in a non-stressful manner.
9. Replace With Evaluation on a Project-Level
Instead of having an annual evaluation meeting, have an assessment at the end of each project. In my experience, it’s better for this to happen one-on-one. Let each employee discuss what role they played, what they felt limited by, what they’re most proud of, and what they learned that they might be able to bring forward into future projects.
10. Make It a Conversation
Instead of just saying what’s wrong or right with how an employee is performing, make it a two-way conversation. Maybe the employee couldn’t perform to their full potential because you didn’t provide them with the right resources. This is your chance to set them (and your business) up for success.
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