Several years ago I was working with company in the long-term care industry. I was doing focus groups with employees on their experience of the work culture and relationship with managers. I asked them about the performance review process. One woman shared her negative experience and compared it to “picking scabs.” I kid you not! The whole room nodded in agreement.
Why do employees hate performance reviews?
- They are infrequent: Once or twice a year is insufficient if your goal is to support employees in improving. It looks like you are checking a box on your to-do list and is experienced as overwhelming by managers.
- The focus on what’s wrong: If the performance review is a litany of things you need to improve on for next year, it’s a major downer and erodes morale.
- It’s not valuable or useful: Most performance reviews evaluate employees against some subjective standard, but lack any connection to what’s meaningful or useful for the employee.
I teach a course for Lorman Educational Seminars titled “Managing Millennials: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” Most of my focus is on what Millennials want, how to engage them, and how leaders and managers can maximize their contribution. The principles apply beyond this one generation.
How to conduct performance conversations that get results
- Do it regularly, immediately, and compassionately: Make performance conversations a regular part of your relationship, not because you are a micromanager, but because you care about their development and success.
- Establish a personal, emotional connection: Show you care about your employees. Empathize with their experiences. Don’t be afraid to share your own joys and insecurities.
- Celebrate what’s working: Emphasize strengths and successes. After all, these are the building blocks for growth.
- Involve employees in problem-solving: Ask for their perspective. Ask for their ideas on how to make improvements. Collaboration is the key to buy-in.
- Connect the dots: Employees want to know how their skills and contribution makes a difference in the big scheme of things.
- Keep your roles clear: Your job is to be a supportive presence, be a resource without doing it for them, and clarify the expectations. All three are critical for compassionate accountability. If you sacrifice any one of these, you will compromise your effectiveness and their engagement.
- Struggle with them, not against them: Above all, this is not supposed to be an adversarial process. It’s a partnership for success. The outcome of any formal performance review should include action steps for the employee AND manager.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2019
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