Five Ways Managers Can Make Performance Reviews All About The Employee

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I have a surprise for you. Did you know managers and employees find little to no value in completing performance reviews?

Okay, so it’s not a surprise that managers see the process as too long and too confusing. And they don’t see value in how it connects to company goals, let alone what they need to be working on. And you already know that employees get little information or feedback on their performance or their own development goals.

But did you know that you can make it better? I’m not talking about blowing up your process and doing away with it altogether. We can talk about that another time when you’re not trying to finish performance reviews at the last second.

I am talking about how you can better engage your employees by making the conversation about them, rather than a form or process. So many performance reviews are built on making the employee a spectator rather than the star player. By flipping the script and allowing the employee to see what’s in it for them, you can help establish the expectations for the employee so they can see how they support the company’s success and their own.

Here’s how:

Allow employees to start the conversation

So many times employees wait for their manager to give them feedback. For employees to be truly engaged, they need to start the conversation. Trust in your employees to be focused on their performance as much as you are. By doing so, employees can better own the process and think about what they want to get out of the conversation. And then managers can be better positioned to coach and guide.

Encourage open and honest conversation

We all have the tendency to be poor judges of our own achievements and opportunities for improvement. Some of us downplay our accomplishments, while others hide their faults. Support your employee to give an honest assessment of where they’ve excelled and what you feel you want and need to improve moving forward.

Encourage meaningful goals – personally and professionally

A key outcome of a well-done performance conversation is to help employees and managers discuss where there are opportunities to support the company and the employee’s career path. Take note of how the employee’s current position ties into the short- and long-term plans of the company. And then use this information to guide the conversation around the employee’s personal and professional development objectives over the coming months.

Focus on the journey, not just the destination

Strong goals and outcomes are important, but help your employee think about how you’ll track progress and make contributions throughout the year. This can help keep you both connect on progress and possible changes in priorities. Older reviews detracted from this focus by using ratings in the performance review conversation.

Listen to learn

Constructive feedback during a performance review can be difficult to hear and give. It’s important to listen carefully and objectively on both sides of the conversation. If you both can go into the conversation with the goal to learn, you’ll be more open to what was said and try to make improvements.

While it’s not a surprise that performance reviews are not our favorite activity, when done well, they can help better connect employees to the big picture. And the more an employee can see what’s in it for them, the more engaged they are throughout the year.

Mike Bensi is an advisor at FirstPerson.

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