Annual performance reviews often feel pointless, if not painful. And research shows that simply tinkering with the process will fail more often than it succeeds. Is there a better approach?
In most organisations, there are few topics guaranteed to elicit a collective eye roll more than annual performance reviews. Individuals see little point in vague, arbitrary goals that will be filed and swiftly forgotten about; managers struggle to give frank feedback to team members who they suspect can only be motivated by money. That’s before they’ve even got to the time wasted on box ticking, form filling and inter-rating that could be better spent actually getting on with the job.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Companies that get performance conversations right outperform those that don’t on pretty much every measure of success: from revenue to engagement to innovation.
In these organisations, performance conversations happen weekly, even daily, rather than once or twice a year. By the time the ‘official’ review comes around everybody knows what to expect – it’s less excruciating that way. Managers reap the rewards of regular praise in their employees’ discretionary effort, and have a variety of creative ways to recognise high performance – not necessarily with money. They feel comfortable dishing out constructive feedback, while their team members are emotionally resilient enough to accept and act on it.
In such workplaces, goals are set at the right level – stretching but not straining – and are regularly reviewed to make sure they’re still fit for purpose. Individuals know not only how their goals fit in with the overall business strategy, but how achieving those targets will help their personal career aspirations.
At all levels, performance conversations are seen not as a necessary evil, but as a valuable tool to unlock potential, enhance effort and develop engagement and commitment. With not an eye roll in sight.
This utopian fantasy doesn’t come as the result of a shiny new performance management process – bad news for the 86% of organisations that have recently updated theirs, or are planning to soon. It comes about when employees have the emotional intelligence and practical skills necessary to give and receive feedback, set goals, reward creatively and align personal ambition with company goals.
All skills which are taught in Mind Gym’s new ‘Talking Performance’ Accelerator programme. Over the course of four bite-sized sessions, managers and individuals will discover how to make performance conversations a source of energy and insight that generate a lasting change for the better.
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