There’s always a lot of discussion about the problems with annual performance reviews. Although they’re meant to motivate, too often these reviews end up being time consuming and difficult for both managers and employees. But because they help with setting goals and measuring performance, they continue to play an important role in most organizations. With improvement, though, they can accomplish even more. Here are five ways to drive productivity by making performance reviews both motivational and worthwhile.
1.Review performance daily. You want the best from your employees, give them real-time feedback on accomplishments and challenges throughout the year. At annual review time, you can then focus on achievements and growth rather than rehash past challenges—and you won’t encounter any surprises.
2. Treat reviews as conversations. Everyone should be comfortable discussing performance, so don’t lecture employees in language that makes sense only to HR. Instead, give them clear action steps and information they can use: discuss specific achievements they can be proud of and areas in which they need improvement. And use systems that capture your conversation—don’t fall into the trap of discussing only what fits in a box on your form.
3. Give reviews a purpose. Why bother with reviews if all you do is fill out a form and file it away? Reviews should collect useful employee-performance information that can be put to work for the entire organization. If managers see the value of performance reviews, those reviews will get done. And employees will make a greater effort in their reviews when they can see their benefits.
4. Embrace simplicity and consistency. Simple, frequent reviews will give you a clear, current understanding of what’s happening with your team and contribute positively to individual engagement. Reviews should be straightforward and allow you to focus on the person sitting in front of you rather than make you decipher forms or translate HR-speak. After all, managing people is hard enough without having to deal with the effects of painfully complicated reviews.
5. Change the review experience. We’ve all had bad review experiences (as both reviewers and reviewees). Reviews don’t have to be awful, though, if you approach them with the right attitude. Great managers talk about performance every day and give timely (and useful) feedback to their teams. Great employees welcome feedback as a source of inspiration, motivation, and reassurance.