It’s that time of the year at my company, when formal performance reviews need to be done. I can’t stand this time of the year. It happens twice a year, at the middle and at the end. It’s the time everyone scrambles to follow the process. Everyone schedules their review times, groans about having to fill the arduous document and then rushes to make the deadline. HR sends out reminders it’s important to get done. It’s an exercise in completion, wrapped in expression of importance. It’s a hassle. It’s been like this in almost every company I’ve worked.
Reviews aren’t supposed to be a check list. Reviews are guide posts, they are supposed to allow your employees to know how they are doing, where they should be headed and the things they should stop doing. Performance reviews should provide support and direction, not just assessment. I have never, ever been critiqued or measured on my skill to assess my team members. I’ve never been trained in how to do a good one. I never worked for a company that highlighted the best leaders for their ability to manage their team. It’s always been a mid-year, end of year exercise that frustrates everyone and deliver little to no value.
Reviewing individuals is an ongoing process. It requires, at the very least, monthly conversations around expectations, concerns, performance and well being. Good reviews incorporate the employees objectives and goals. It includes their own personal self-assessment. Reviews should be a holistic engagement between a manager and their employee on an on going basis. By being engaged with an employees performance on a regular basis, mid-year and annual performance reviews are nothing more than a collection of previous discussions.
I have the best sales team in the world. They are responsive, intelligent, driven, talented and successful. They are the best because of who they are AND because we talk regularly about getting better. It’s not about performance or reviewing but about development and growth. Some of the people on my team have worked for me at different companies. They are committed to personal development and growth. I challenge them to grow. We engage in honest dialogue. We are transparent in our discussions, nothing off limits and I know what they want to achieve. By focusing on development and growth rather than reviewing performance we make greater progress.
Team development is one of the most critical components of leadership. Unfortunately, it far too often becomes a bi-annual process that just frustrates everyone and that doesn’t help anyone.
Rather than having performance reviews, there should be employee development reviews, where managers are evaluated on their team and employee development process. Each leader should be graded on how well they develop and manage their employees. The top employee development leaders should be showcased and awarded. Give kudos to those who know how to build teams and grow people.
Hold leaders accountable for leadership and performance reviews will no longer be a pain but rather a tool.
Would you be a top performer in employee development culture?