Conducting an Effective Performance Review Part I – Align
Conducting An Effective Performance Review Part I – Align
Is your performance review currently transforming your organization?
More Videos: After the Grid – Now What?, Leverage the Power of the Performance-Values Matrix, Developing a Coaching Culture Using Check-Ins, Conducting An Effective Performance Review Part II – Coach, Conducting An Effective Performance Review Part III – Lead, Using 360 Degree Feedback to Enhance Your Performance Management Process, The Basics of Effective Meetings
Welcome to Part 1 of this Series on Conducting Effective Performance Reviews. It is our goal in this video series to help Managers not only handle this fragile event with care but also become so proficient that the performance review is transformed into a powerful alignment tool, its true intention.
We will cover the before, or preparation phase of conducting an effective performance review. Some of the best learning comes from sharing experiences, and lessons learned from those experiences, so we’ve inserted topics for group discussion throughout this series.
Most organizations are really good at training a new employee how to accomplish their job duties. Be it instructional, on the job training, or a combination of the two, a lot of time, energy, and money are spent on occupational excellence.
However, most organizations fail to train Managers on the people skills needed to perform the people part of their job. People and Managerial skills seem soft, subjective, and we believe, intuitive. But they are anything but. And one of the most dangerous tasks your Managers take on during the year is the performance review. Few events in your organization’s life have the power to wreak as much havoc, or fast forward success, as the performance review.
Welcome to Part 1 of this Series on Conducting Effective Performance Reviews. It is our goal in this video series to help Managers not only handle this fragile event with care but also become so proficient that the performance review is transformed into a powerful alignment tool, its true intention. For those of you not employing the use of performance reviews within the Performance Culture System, possibly using our Check-Ins and Goal Management components instead, the topics covered in this video series will still prove helpful. You may need to simply adapt some of the wording and processes to more accurately fit your performance management process.
In this first video, we will cover the before, preparation, or Alignment phase of conducting an effective performance review. Some of the best learning comes from sharing experiences, and lessons learned from those experiences, so we’ve inserted topics for group discussion throughout this series. If you are watching this in a group training format, consider pausing the video when we reach these topics and discuss your experiences with the group. You may even develop additional standards to your performance management process based on your collective learning. Let’s dive in. We’ll begin with best practices.
Best Practice #1: Put yourself in their shoes
More than likely you’ve had a performance review before, and if you haven’t, simply think back to a time when you really wanted to know what your coach, teacher, friend, or parent thought about how you performed. Many of you can identify with the sense of anxiety, however small it may be for some, that typically precedes a feedback session. Best practice number 1 is about empathy, tapping into the feelings, both positive and negative, that your employee may be feeling. This is a task involving humans; you would do well to keep the human element front and center in your thought process.
Group Discussion # 1:
- Have you ever experienced a performance review with a manager that just didn’t seem to care about you? Or how you felt?
- Were you ever shocked by either the content or the results of a performance review, almost blindsided by the feedback? Why do you think this was? Do you think anyone at your organization has felt this way before? How can we avoid this happening?
Best Practice #2: Prepare and Calibrate
One of the most common mistakes I see is the lack of preparation before a performance review. Some of this is due to cumbersome tools or processes. Mostly this is due to our failure to view the event as important as it is, thereby pushing it off to the last minute, only to throw some ratings and a few comments down the night before. Your team deserves better than that, and you deserve a better and easier process. If you have been using Performance Culture Check-ins, remember you can click on “View Check-ins” on the employee’s performance review form to quickly scan past conversations you have had, being reminded of how far – or how little – the employee has come over the review cycle. And if some of your past manager feedback is still applicable, a big time saver is to simply copy and paste it where appropriate on the review form. This practice aligns with the concept that there should be no surprises during the performance review. You’ve already addressed any deficiencies along the way when they occured. Remember, when it comes to conflict, the healthiest organizations have the shortest time span between conflict and resolution.
As a Manager, your preparation should also include reviewing the employee’s past performance reviews, noting how they were scored before, and any discrepancies that may exist. For example, a quick way to review this is to apply a filter on your Team Past Review tab for your Employee = the name of your employee. All past reviews and past data points on the Performance-Values Matrix now appear. Hovering over the data points reveals the respective time period of past reviews, or you can sort by ascending or descending date order in the table below. Why is this helpful? Because your employee has the same information and will take very seriously how you’ve scored them this cycle versus past cycles. If you have allowed your own judgments to weigh in more than they should, your employee may feel slighted, or feel as if their performance is more about you and your subjectivity (also known as the idiosyncratic rater effect) than their objective performance.
An incredible way to help decrease the idiosyncratic rater effect is to solicit 360-degree feedback on your employee from his or her teammates. Remember, your employee will not see this feedback unless you share it with him or her. Reference our other PCS and PCU Training Videos on 360-degree feedback to learn more.
Group Discussion # 2:
- Do you check-in with your team or direct reports throughout the year? If so, what does a check-in look like? Are any documented so that you can reference them later? If not, would you like to have an easy way to do this?
- Do you think you’ve ever allowed your bias or subjectivity to weigh more in assessing your employee than their objective performance and behaviors? Why do you think that is? What is one way as an organization you can try to reduce this bias?
- What does your current performance review process look like? Do you have time to properly prepare? How might the process be enhanced in order to better the experience and outcome for the employee, Manager, and organization?
Lastly, calibration. What do we mean by calibration? Well, it’s just my word for a more detailed preparation, and for Senior Managers/Leaders, a way to spot any discrepancies in ratings or comments BEFORE the conversations take place.
Let me start with this concept first. As a Manager of Managers, it is your job to coach the coach, and help him or her prepare for the performance reviews they will soon conduct. The Performance Culture System makes it easy to begin this process by navigating to the Team Current Review Tab, applying a filter for a Manager = name of the manager you are coaching. You will immediately see how this manager is rating their team – in draft mode – and can spot any data points of concern by examining the performance-values matrix.
Another powerful use of the Matrix is to split your screen in half, and filter by one manager on the left side of your screen, and another manager on the right side of your screen. Do you see any discrepancies of concern? Is one manager harder on his team than another? Is another manager giving away 4 and 5 stars like they’re candy, and everyone’s getting a trophy? Hopefully, you don’t have any major trends of concern, but this is a time to try and calibrate your Managers’ scoring tendencies across the organization. And this should become an even greater point of review if you are tying compensation to results.
If you are the one conducting the performance review, use this same concept to do a “self-check,” paying attention to how you are scoring your teammates in comparison to one another. Again, the beauty of the “Current” review tab is that you can see your work in progress, and make necessary adjustments BEFORE you meet with your employee.
Group Discussion # 3:
- Do you meet with your Supervisor before you conduct performance reviews to help prepare and calibrate? Would you like to? Why or why not?
- In what other ways might your organization prepare for performance reviews so that they are helpful and not hurtful?
This concludes Part 1 of Conducting an Effective Performance Review. Be sure to watch Part 2 to learn best practices for conducting the review itself. Thank you for watching.