To review or not to review performance of staff – that is one of the questions being asked by many CEO’s and HRD’s alike (forgive the Shakespearean). For the past several years about six percent of the Fortune 1000 has gotten rid of formal, traditional reviews. Most recently, GE, Adobe, Gap, Deloitte, Accenture and Microsoft have revamped their review processes.
Why are they asking that question and or revamping review processes? Because it’s not working. Performance reviews are simply not achieving the results that they are looking for. So, let’s ask the next why. Why are they not achieving the results that they are looking for? Is it the system or is it the people using the system… hhmmmm. I believe it’s both, because even those companies with sound systems and processes in place are asking the question. The simple answer is – no one likes performance reviews, least of all management and people don’t put energy into things they don’t like doing.
Management are all rowing the same boat in the whirlpool of performance review dread and only going one way – swirling further and further down the dark hole making zero progress to getting out of it. Why? Because their dread is routed in their thinking that reviews;
- are arduous work
- are time consuming
- are too administrative
- require skill that they do not have
- Whine whine whine… or wine wine wine – neither help though
And they are right, well kind of – but only because they are not doing it correctly.
When done well, the performance process is about driving for better results, setting clear expectations, developing people for the roles that they are currently in and building relationships between employees and managers. These are things managers should be doing everyday (refer previous article on “People Management – who’s line is it anyway?” – another great read).
One thing I will concede is that although the performance process can be simpler, it’s difficult. Because you are working with people that are so different and each require a different approach, it requires energy to deal with them, especially when the person is “difficult”. Tough – welcome to life on earth! The sooner this is understood the quicker it will be accepted, and we can move on to how we do this people thing better – we simply have no choice! But I digress a bit, so back to the whirlpool.
Whirlpools are dangerous and staying out or getting out of them requires some ingenuity and reprogramming of the GPS.
Here are three ways to avoid the performance review dread that can fling you out or keep you out of this particular whirlpool and into calmer waters;
- Fix the GPS
- Let the crew know where you are going, why and when you want to get there by (by the way – watch Simon Sinek’s video on “Start with Why” – brilliant!)
- They also need to know what is expected of them to get you to your co-ordinates so set goals and expectations with them and make sure that they know what their success looks like
- The crew’s success’s, if linked to correctly to your co-ordinates, will result in your success
- Continual coaching and feedback
- Forget the notion of the annual review – you are wasting your time if that is the sum total of your performance process (this is a system issue that you will need to fix)
- Shift the focus from rating every conversation and get the crew to understand that the conversation is about them
- Conduct regular check-ins with your crew. Get talking to them one on one to build relationships and confidence. Think coffee chats.
- Don’t make it an “HR thing”! Own the process, the conversation and the content.
- Keep looking forward – don’t dwell on where you have been but focus on what’s ahead.
- Spend time with them sharing your vast knowledge and experience.
- Ongoing staff development
- Don’t look at the past here either – what for, it’s done! Focus on the current and then the future development needs that will enable staff to perform and contribute positively – adding value to your business.
- Put strong development plans in place and follow through with them.
Why should you do this? Well the benefits are exhaustive, and you are already tired from rowing, so here are the big wins;
- Getting you, your crew and your boat to where you want to go because they are all rowing in sync – business strategic intent becomes achievable with focussed efforts on results needed to be successful = SUCCESS.
- Crew are on board and happy to be rowing – engagement and commitment are high, waves can be surfed, and storms weathered
- When you reach your intended shores, you can look at the bigger boats and upgrade to a motor driven yacht – I like yachts…
- You will need more crew for the yacht and once on board they will work with and be influence by an already amazing crew that helped you arrive at your current destination – onboarding and sustainability made simpler.
Being the Captain of a vessel is not easy, but it can be easier. Get it together, be bold and steer with confidence!
Are you ready for the next leg?