A manager should always provide feedback to his/her employees. A constant dialog of expectations, goals, barriers to success, and even small talk should be a part of daily interaction with employees. If there is a problem, it should be discussed. If there is a success, it should be celebrated. Managers shouldn’t wait for a six or twelve month performance review to talk to employees about their performance. Nothing in the formal review should be a surprise to an employee. It should be a time to formalize the employee’s performance, not tell them what their performance has been.
In contrast to the “either / or” debate, what if we did this:
- Develop a meaningful performance review that measures pertinent information and metrics rather than a document that measures meaningless activities that do not drive toward company goals.
- Share the performance review with the employee the day they are hired so they understand the evaluation criteria.
- Throughout the review period, invite the employee to participate in the process by discussing the review criteria and adding or deleting items from the review document as it makes sense based on changes in job responsibilities.
- Provide constant feedback to the employee about his/her performance on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, not just at review time. Let them know what they are doing well and how they can improve their performance based on objective measures of their results.
- At review time, allow the employee to complete a self-evaluation and be an active participant in the review process. Plan an uninterrupted time to meet with the employee and review their assessment, as well as yours. Listen to them. Talk to them. Ask if they feel they are being evaluated on meaningful criteria. Discuss goals. Ask how you can help them. Ask them how you are doing as a supervisor. Make the review a meaningful discussion, not just another meeting on your to do list.
- After the formal review process is over, continue the discussions. Invite feedback from the employee about the process and about their performance. Check in with them regularly about how things are going. Talk to them about what barriers are holding them back and how you can help them be more successful.
The performance review process should not be a meaningless time waster, although many employees and managers see it that way. If that is the case, then the review criteria and the process design need to be fixed, not eliminated. If the manager is choosing “either / or”, then the manager needs training. If the employee is seeing the performance review as a necessary evil then perhaps their past reviews were not productive. To be a successful review process, the document should measure relevant criteria and the process should engage both the manager and the employee. It should also be a part of an on-going dialog between the employee and the manager. You can choose to do formal performance reviews, or provide on going feedback. I choose to do both. See our HR Solutions page for more information.