Annual performance reviews. Everyone’s least-favorite time of year. Whether you do this burdensome task at the end of the calendar year, or the fiscal year, or if you wait till each employee’s anniversary date, you know they’re coming and you dread their arrival.
Not only are formal performance reviews time-consuming and disruptive to your normal daily flow, but odds are you don’t have all the right information and training you need to make them truly useful, both to yourself and your employees. Most end up just coming down to conversations about money. Will your employee get a raise? A bonus? The process becomes a zero-sum, win/lose exercise.
Your distaste for this process is hardly one-sided though. Your direct reports hate them too. Research shows that two out of three employees (67%) feel they are not heard in these meetings. Over half feel they don’t receive raises or bonuses commensurate with their great performance. It’s just a near-meaningless 16% who actually prefer to receive feedback in a formal, annual process. Only 4% feel that formal performance reviews are the best way to motivate and engage.
So why even do them?
Well … DON’T!
Instead, eliminate the need for annual performance reviews by practicing No Surprise Management. Make sure every single direct report knows where they stand with you, both good and bad, at all times. They shouldn’t have to wait a whole year to get feedback on their performance.
You should meet more often, no less than monthly, to review expectations, celebrate successes, discuss where performance needs to improve, plan for the future, discuss goals (both personal and professional), and establish trust.
Everybody wants feedback – at work, in our relationships, in our individual pursuits. We want to be able to push ourselves. We’re constantly looking to better ourselves and grow. The only way we can do that is if we know how we are performing and what we might do to improve that performance.
Great leaders are, by definition, great communicators. Challenge yourself to be a better communicator and to give feedback more often. Make sure that you do it in a clear, consistent, caring, candid and challenging way. Do it as often and immediately as you can.
Giving more frequent feedback instead of annual performance reviews will remove the fear from everyone’s minds – yours and your employees’.