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How performance reviews fall short & how to make them useful

We’re in the home stretch friends! The end of the year is in plain sight as discussions have begun on what’s next for the year ahead. Before we get to 2021 planning, I can’t help but think of what many organizations will be preparing for first – performance reviews.

A conversation leaders and employees should have all year long to make it relevant AND useful. Yes – relevant and useful.

By now I’d like to think we’ve come to understand the best performance-based feedback is the kind that is ongoing and timely. You’re not just waiting for the mid-year or end of the year performance review to discuss performance.

We both know that rarely happens!

You wouldn’t tell an athlete, “Hey, remember that play you did on the field 6 months ago that led us to win the game? Keep doing more of that!” Unless you were a terrible coach.

Gartner research shows 92% of organizations have formal performance reviews and 65% of organizations provide formal performance feedback, yet performance management remains a largely unsatisfactory experience — for both employees and managers. 

That’s quite a gap given the standards we place on employee performance in the workplace. Expectations are set to reach for the stars, yet employees are often missing the tools and guidance to support them in getting there, among other things.

It’s one of the aspects of the employee/leader journey that has mixed feedback on its relevancy. For some, I’ve heard performance reviews are useless and irrelevant. Likely because they’ve had some poor ones themselves or they don’t see the value while others, think it’s important to have them to support the development of their employees.

The piece we fail to recognize is, it’s only supporting the development of the employee if they’re done correctly and the employee and leader got something out of the experience. Based on research, that’s not the case.

So, what makes the whole performance review such an unsatisfactory experience?

Three reasons that stand out and contribute to a bad performance review:

  • Poor feedback – both positive or constructive feedback that’s not quantifiable and vague. It’s general and doesn’t help your employee.

  • Lack of timely feedback – when feedback is offered, it’s often vague because it wasn’t offered on time (you likely forgot), leaving room for interpretation and being unhelpful in moving forward.

  • Direction on the next steps – often a leader is either unclear on what direction to offer the employee to support them in moving to the next level OR doesn’t know at all. In other instances, it’s poorly communicated that leaves the employee walking away with no plan on where to go next.

Performance reviews tend to get a poor ranking when they’re being led by leaders who don’t know how to give them! They were either never taught or didn’t take the time to learn what tools and best practices to keep in mind.

This also comes down to understanding people management and your people directly. In both cases, this leads to a less than satisfying experience for both you as the leader and your employee.

Not to mention, the reasons listed above are often lacking that should be considered basics across any performance review. Performance reviews also tie into the quality of your relationship with your employees.

The stronger your relationship the better the outcome of your performance review. Notice I didn’t say easier. Easier doesn’t mean there’s no hard feedback to hear or give, however, when your relationship with your employee is strong, your chances of having a successful outcome are higher.

What’s considered a successful outcome?

  • Clear direction on next steps
  • Performance is recognized with ideas on what’s next?
  • Feedback is timely and clear + quantifiable
  • Career interests are highlighted for future opportunities
  • Shared responsibility between employee and leader in the review and moving forward

What’s your take on performance reviews? Do you find them relevant and useful?

I’d love to hear from you, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. Make Your Connection 3-months group coaching program is where it’s at for the driven leader who’s looking to SOAR in their business, career and in life!! This program is for you if you identify with being an ambitious woman who’s looking to grab your role as the leader of your life and take bold action in your business, career and in life. Message me for more details and learn more here!! The group is capped at 6 women and kicks off November 15th.

With so much appreciation,

Lisa 💖

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Lisa De Nicola

Lisa De Nicola is an Intuitive Leadership Coach and a Corporate Magic Maker (a Trusted Advisor who believes in Magic) dedicated to helping businesses bring out the essence of their biggest resource - their people. She coaches bold leaders to help them become the Director of their life so they can do business and life on their terms. With 15 + years of corporate experience working in the world of talent for multi-national, global organizations, Lisa shares her knowledge, spiritual tools, practices and business insights to leaders looking to transform the way they lead from the inside out.

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