Performance reviews are supposed to fix everything, right? Managers tell employees where they need to improve, and staff members, armed with this information instantly become more efficient. Furthermore, the simple act of having at least one review a year makes employees happy and feel secure in their jobs.
If all that is true, then why does Gallup research show only 14 percent of employees strongly agree they find performance reviews inspiring?
As it turns out, performance management is a lot more complicated than business leaders naturally expect. It's time for all businesses – not just those in the big leagues – to reevaluate their strategies. Furthermore, business leaders need to look at the quality of the feedback they provide and make sure it supports employees and aligns with company goals.
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Improving your performance review process
Ranking employees and holding annual performance reviews has the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of pointing out areas for improvement, these tactics make your staff irritated and defensive. Additionally, when a year's worth of work is distilled down to a single number and review, employees start to question your ability to judge them fairly.
"Getting rid of reviews and rankings is the best thing way to improve performance."
Getting rid of yearly reviews and rankings is the best thing your company can do to improve performance. Eliminating ranks puts employees in the mindset of teamwork, not competition. They're encouraged to help each other rather than to be the best performer.
Meanwhile, trading annual reviews for continuous performance management ensures feedback is timely and relevant. Employees aren't criticized for something that happened eight months ago, and managers have a better time remembering their staff's accomplishments.
Improving your feedback
Based on Gallup's research, less than a third of your staff strong agree that the reviews they get are fair. What's worse, only 26 percent strongly agree they're accurate. This isn't your staff's fault. Rather, it's on your company's managers and executives to look at the quality of feedback given. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Be specific. Don't say a completed task was done well or poorly and leave it at that. Get to the heart of the matter – identify what worked, what didn't live up to expectations, and provide detailed steps for improvement.
- Focus on actions, not personalities. A lot of employees see negative feedback as an attack on their character, so use language that avoids frustration and hurt feelings. Don't say a task was done lazily; instead, request a more thorough job for next time.
- Ask employees for topics. Each of your staff members has something specific they want feedback on. If you only review what you observe, you miss a chance to address their concerns.
- End with a solid strategy. Give your employee a list of next steps, complete with objectives and key results, they can get started on as soon as they walk out of your office.
Successful feedback is the key to unlocking your employees' potential, but many of them are frustrated by the way things currently run. Use these tips to better your performance management strategy and get your entire staff inspired.