Connect with HR – Performance Reviews – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted on April 3, 2012 by admin | Posted in Highlights

Performance Reviews – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

You either hate doing it or you don’t do it but still hate it, because of the constant reminders from your boss or HR to get this done!

As a manger, your company insists you conduct reviews for the employees you supervise, but you are not provided with any training on how to properly give feedback.

Your company boasts about “two-way communication” but the review process is a one-way process – your boss tells you what he thinks of you. Period!

And of course, your boss only remembers the last thing you’ve done and if you didn’t do it well, then guess what your rating will be?

You’re told you should be doing x, y, z but no one explains how you are to do x, y, z and you didn’t even know it was part of your job responsibilities and now you are being told you didn’t do them or you didn’t do them well enough.

The performance review form is merely box ticking – and your boss always chooses the middle box!

Your performance ratings don’t mean anything because they aren’t tied into performance pay.  No matter how good a rating you get, you still get the same pay increase as your co-worker with the lowest rating.

Ah yes the dreaded performance review! Sound familiar??

As the new Director of HR for a previous company, I started in September, just in time for the annual performance review process to begin.  It was a smallish office (60 employees) so when I sent out the email announcing it was “that time again”, I could hear various cries of despair, groans and angry expletives. Not a great way to make my mark.

So I gathered a group of employees together and asked for feedback into the review process and here’s what I heard?

Shouldn’t I get a chance to talk about my accomplishments?

Why is it only my boss providing feedback when I work with a lot of other managers in the company?

Why do we have five ratings when no-one is ever awarded the highest one? 

It isn’t fair that I get criticized in my review for something I haven’t done well, when no one spoke to me until the performance review meeting. 

Why can’t the ratings be tied to pay increases?

Why aren’t those giving feedback, given training in this area first?  It’s easy to give positive feedback, but not very easy to give negative feedback. 

Why doesn’t my boss give me ongoing helpful feedback throughout the year?

So having heard all of these comments, and more, I suggested that we should put a small task force together of different levels of employees, and develop with a new performance review program!

The result of the employees’ involvement in the development was that they bought into the new meaningful, simple, and streamlined process.  The annual review was merely a process for documenting the ongoing feedback received throughout the year.  The real key was the required “feedback sessions” that had to happen at least quarterly, the information from which would be used to document the annual review.  The success in conducting these sessions would form part of the overall goals and objectives for each person’s review.

The employees agreed to complete a self-evaluation where they commented on their strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments and gave themselves a rating.  Interestingly, employees will be far harder on themselves than a manager will be when considering their performance.

Ratings were changed from five ratings to three only, and specifics about what constituted each rating were developed, documented and communicated to everyone.

The manager’s role was to review the self-evaluation, make notes of what he/she agreed with or had additional information to add, feedback perhaps from peers and other managers and then both the employee and the manger arrived at an agreed upon rating.

So why have a Performance Review Program?  A good program can effectively proceed to engage, empower and hold employees accountable for their accomplishments, their commitments and their contributions. It provides a time when a manager is focusing his/her attention exclusively on the staff person’s development, goals and needs.  When tied to performance pay, it allows you to reward your exceptional employees by recognizing their contribution monetarily and allows others to see that strong performance has its rewards.

The annual review process also allows for the manager and the employee to develop a Personal Development Plan (PDP) for the next year, and/or develop a Performance Improvement Plan to help the employee to improve his/her performance.

Developing a PDP enables an employee to understand the expectations associated with their role, in a measurable, concrete and accountable format.  Employees learn what exactly is expected of them and feel supported through the feedback in meeting or exceeding these expectations.

Engaging your workforce, whether large or small, in a Performance Review program is not difficult; it is not complex; and it is not expensive.  The investment you make will give you an ROI like you’ve never seen before!

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