As HR professionals we are often caught up in either developing or managing a performance review/appraisal system. A system that users do not relate to, do not understand or refuse to engage with.
Just what do we expect to achieve by having a performance review in isolation and only conducting them once or twice a year.
A performance review should be about goal setting and feedback to develop personal & professional growth in order to promote and maintain a learning organisation.
The effectiveness of any performance system will rest with the abilities of workplace leaders to connect with their staff on both a professional and personal level. This is not achieved through a bi annual meeting to expressly discuss and monitor performance. The level of understanding needed can only be attained through continuous engagement of employees.
To truly engage employees we need to be having regular conversations; we need to gain a rapport and trust so we can have open conversations to enable learning.
To stop monitoring and start truly engaging staff workplace leaders need to have a genuine interest in who their staff are; their strengths and weaknesses; and how they operate on both a professional and personal front. We need to have greater investment and respect for the people we work with.
A few tips to start breaking away from what most understand as the traditional performance review.
1. Frequency – we must start to have regular dialog with staff, preferably meetings should occur each week, if this is not achievable then not less than once a month.
- This is not to say that conversations on work and other matters may take place more regularly or as required.
2. Learning – The focus should be on learning and helping employees to achieve their goals, tasks or projects. Not every meeting needs to be reviewing goals and performance these should be done only when necessary i.e. the organisation changes priorities/goals or the member completes set goals. Performance discussed for positive results achieved and poor performance should be discussed as soon as possible so it would rarely coincide with planned meetings.
3. Positive – Look for the positives, a complement or a ‘well done’ will go a long way; if discussing something that has not worked look at the lessons learnt from the experience.
4. Mentor – Think more like a mentor not like the traditional supervisor or manager. People are generally trying to do the right thing they may need some guidance and support not micro management.
5. Formality – Try to keep it informal, the more you meet and talk the more comfortable both parties will be and the more open and willing to share both parties will be.
- If possible conduct the meetings at the employee’s desk, or at least in a neutral zone, this may feel a little less formal.
- Time – Keep it short, if you are meeting once a week there should be no requirement for lengthy meetings.
- Ownership – Let the employee take responsibility to book meetings, for the agenda and to take notes.
To give greater levels of commitment (engagement) employees need to feel part of a team, that they are making a difference, they are on track, and that they are valued. Employees need regular feedback and to feel comfortable in asking for help and guidance this, will only occur when they feel they are not being judged but rather finding their place in the team.
The writer, John Hefez, is a senior consultant at HR Power a quality human resources consultancy helping business achieve greater success through their people.