Organizations have purpose, or they would not exist. Their missions are to serve the purpose in the most efficient and effective ways. Every person in those organizations is responsible for helping to achieve the corresponding purpose. Pretty simple, right? I wish it were. Individuals are complex with strengths, weaknesses and a myriad other issues. All things considered most come with positive intent wanting to do the best they can to contribute. Constructive performance reviews are one of the best ways to support employees, enhance supervisory skill, and stay mission driven.
If it is such a wonderful exercise, why do so many supervisors and subordinates become anxious when their semi-annual or annual date approaches? Six months to a year is a long time to wait to hear how a boss assessed her/his employees’ performance. I wonder how many supervisors were formally trained on how to conduct performance reviews. According to Vantage Circle, one in five employees aren’t confident their supervisors will provide regular constructive feedback. It goes on to report that 45% of HR leaders don’t think annual performance reviews are an actual appraisal of an employees’ work.
An annual review should be for the entire year, but supervisors most likely remember what employees have done within the last month or two. Whether conscious or unconscious, the halo effect can be a factor (i.e. favored employees can do no wrong.) In other words, performance review questions and the numbers are objective; people aren’t always.
That’s why performance review training including role-plays and simulations are so important. The performance review process starts with performance objectives based on an organization’s mission. Like a large orchestra each musician plays an instrument that contributes to the musical rendition presented to an audience. If a performer is off key or plays the wrong note, the conductor gives immediate feedback to help him/her get back in harmony. However, before a performance, clear expectations are conveyed and then plenty of training and practice (teamwork) occur before presenting a masterpiece concerto to the public.
In business and related fields, our public is our customers, clients, and patients. The formal performance review might take place once a year, but constructive feedback needs to be immediate. “Good better best, never let it rest, until your good becomes your better and your better becomes your best.” – John Cassis