Skilled corporate and agency recruiters have insight into an important aspect of the performance review process; reviews, more often than not, leave employees disgruntled and vulnerable to a competitor’s offer.
Savvy recruiters contact a targeted candidate shortly after their performance review, prepared with a sales pitch for another organization that will appreciate their talents. This fact, along with numerous formal employee satisfaction surveys and studies, tell us that a poorly-delivered performance review has the potential to drive away top talent, while an effective review can engage an employee and drive business results instead.
Below is a list of the top five common mistakes a manager makes regarding performance reviews:
1) Managers treat performance reviews as an annual event versus an ongoing process.
Ensuring an employee receives an effective performance review at the end of the fiscal year starts at the beginning of the fiscal year. An employee who receives continual, actionable feedback and coaching throughout the year will have a firm understanding of their performance at the time of their review. Using a talent management system such as the performance evaluation software by Halogen software can help organizations track this information over the course of the year.
The performance review itself should be a recap of this information, including specific examples to reinforce themes; no new information should be introduced at the review itself. The biggest complaint the HR department receives from employees concerned about their performance review is that the information was a surprise. Had they known that there was a problem, they would have worked to fix it.
2) Managers assess employees against unclear or misaligned goals.
Employees have a desire to succeed at work and crave information on how their performance measures up against their manager’s expectations. Nobody goes to work to fail. If a manager and employee establish clear goals together initially, assessing an employee’s performance throughout the remainder of the year is made much easier. Additionally, ensuring these goals are aligned with the organization’s most critical business priorities will allow the employee to make the greatest impact and therefore enjoy the greatest success.
3) Managers fail to adequately prepare for the review.
Managers should start preparing for the performance review itself early enough to request and incorporate 360-degree feedback from an employee’s clients, peers and direct reports. This will provide the manager with a more complete picture of performance.
Requesting a self-evaluation from an employee will yield invaluable information on how they view their own performance, and will allow the manager time to follow up on areas in which their assessments differ. Reviews that are cancelled, rescheduled, rushed, or poorly documented give the employee the impression that they are not a priority, making it hard to hear the important information contained in the review itself.
4) Managers fail to accurately assess performance due to bias or a lack of information.
Managers who give themselves time to question the fairness, thoroughness and balance of a performance review will more often accurately assess the performance of their team. Two common biases that come into play during a performance review include: rating an employee on a single recent event or on recent performance only, and comparing an employee to others on the team versus objective standards such as organizational goals and job expectations. Employees may perceive bias when they see reviews that are personalized. An example of personalized language could include, “I was disappointed when the project was not finished on time.”
5) Managers fail to see the performance review as a conversation.
Often, managers feel pressured to provide an employee with their final “score” for the year, putting them in the position of defending their rating. If the manager approaches the review as just another open dialogue with their employee, they can gather additional information and allow the employee to feel heard. Managers should allow for the idea that they may need to adjust the review after the initial conversation.
Effective performance reviews are tools that can help your team align with the businesses goals and achieve desired results. Here are some final steps to ensure a smooth process:
• Provide employees continuous performance feedback throughout the year, gathering work samples and documenting identified performance themes
• Create clear, annual team goals
• Gather 360-degree feedback and employee self-evaluations prior to writing reviews
• Allow adequate time to write and administer the review
• Be aware of your own personal biases
• Allow for employee input during the review itself and be open to making adjustments
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