Performance Reviews – stifle regular feedback

Recently, an HR expert and author was calling for an end to traditional performance reviews, arguing they actually stop managers from providing useful feedback to their team members.

Holding once or twice yearly reviews stifles more effective spontaneous performance conversations, because managers think to themselves:  ’I'll just save all this feedback up for the review’. They don’t give timely, clear, relevant feedback at the time … and therefore miss the opportunity to build more trust and respect in workplace relationships … and the opportunity to focus on continual development of team members.

Tim Baker, Winners at Work  Managing Director recommends instead a series of five ‘touch base’ conversations that cover:

  • climate review;PEOPLE PERFORMANCE. istock-illustration-20195065-focus-on-people-line-up
  • strengths and talents;
  • opportunities for growth;
  • learning and development;      and
  • innovation and continuous improvement.

This five-conversation framework aims to create a situation where managers are doing what they’re supposed to be doing … timely, relevant, frequent feedback.

Held twice a year on a rolling basis of one per month, and only takes 10 to 15 minutes. Over the course of a year, it’s expected that everyone in a leadership role would have 10 short conversations with their direct reports. That’s not a big ask  …  it’s exactly what they should be doing anyway.

This gives the line manager an opportunity to follow up on the previous conversations. The biggest weakness with the traditional system is it’s done once or twice a year and the conversation gets forgotten from one to the next review.  It’s like starting all over again the next year … and this is a real problem when there has been no improvement from one review to the next and it’s becoming ‘crunch time’.

Strengths and weaknesses

Most performance reviews start with things that people ‘aren’t doing right’. The problem with this is it creates a downward spiral, where the employee becomes defensive, regardless of whether or not the things raised are real issues.  It makes more sense to focus on someone’s strengths, as you will always get a better return on investment in time and effort by investing in the development of your strengths instead of trying to overcome your weaknesses.

Try the “three Ps” concept: “We practise what we prefer and therefore become proficient in it”.

Start the conversation with: What are the tasks you enjoy doing most in your current job?  This question focuses employees on what their strengths are more effectively than asking them directly about their strengths, which can cause people to “freeze”.

The follow up question is then: Why do you enjoy these sorts of tasks?

Then if there is evidence that they do a good job in that, say:  Let’s talk about ways to increase the amount of time you spend on that.

This may lead to a discussion around restructuring their job, so there is a good balance of areas of capability and enjoyment and also, some new challenges to encourage development.

When managers identify their employees’ strengths and talents they can then consider strategies to develop them, including:

  • job rotation – this exposes an employee to other aspects of the organisation’s operations, and can help to retain talented employees who might otherwise feel “stale” in their current role;
  • job enrichment – increasing responsibility and variety in a role, which can include allowing the employee to have more control in planning their work and deciding how it’s done;
  • job enlargement – increasing the scope of a job by enlarging its duties and responsibilities; and
  • multi-skilling – helping an employee to become competent in more than one function, therefore adding value to their employability.

These things don’t happen overnight … it is the little things that add up to longer-term options, that will help assist with retention of key staff and succession planning.

Need help with envigorating your performance management systems … it’s all about the conversation and how it’s communicated … call us for assistance.  We are passionate about this stuff …

 

Comments

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  3. This is a topic that’s near to my heart… Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?

  4. jlee says:

    Go to ‘contact us’ tab from home page … it will give you several contact options. Thanks for the comment. We are passionate about genuinely connecting with people also. That’s what a performance conversation should be about … genuine feedback.

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