Community//

Performance reviews. Who likes them?

If you dread performance reviews, there's a reason for it. How can we turn formal reviews into something more meaningful to developing talent?

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Guess what? Nobody likes performance reviews.

That’s right, nobody. I’ve yet to meet anyone who was happy to write, give, or receive one. I’ve even had an HR executive quietly share with me that they’ve turned into a tool to prevent litigation. 

What do you think is wrong with them? I can count four for starters.

  • They don’t promote transparency. Have you ever had a “transparent” conversation at your performance review? I know I haven’t. And if I’m really honest, I wasn’t exactly transparent in the ones I gave. I’m not sure if that was even possible.
  • There’s a nuance in strengths and weaknesses. Every manager I know dreads listing strengths and weaknesses. I believe that every strength has a weakness and every weakness has a strength. If talent development is what you’re after, a nuanced conversation about the balance between the two is far more helpful and interesting than going over a binary list. 
  • The “grading” ranking. Really? Do we still need a letter grade? And I’ll argue that stack ranking employees is the fastest way to disappointment and disillusionment. 
  • “There should be no surprises.” The solution to much of the uselessness of performance reviews is “continuous coaching”. This method works. It’s helpful. But if you’re setting things up for no surprises, then the formal performance review just ends up a waste of time for you and your team member. 

(Maybe I’ve been doing them wrong all the time. I’d love to be enlightened if you have other ideas about them.)

I don’t like wasting time. So I want us to roll back to the original intention of the performance review. Wasn’t it supposed to help you set goals for the upcoming year and recognize your accomplishments? 

THIS YEAR, THE TEAM AT THE AMPLIFY LAB IS SHAKING UP THE STATUS QUO OF THE ANNUAL REVIEW. IN LINE WITH OUR TEACHINGS, WE’RE FOCUSING ON POTENTIAL, VALUE, AND THE IDEA THAT EACH PERSON IS MUCH MORE THAN JUST A BUNCH OF SKILLS. 

With that, each of our team members got asked the following questions:

  1. Where do you think you can add value in 2020 – what’s the vision, how will you measure success, how do you need help?
  2. Where do you want to expand your learning either in your area of expertise or outside  – what’s the vision, how will you measure success, how do you need help?
  3. Is there anything you think you should stop doing? If you’re not doing it, how will it still get done or are you recommending that we eliminate it?
  4. Where do you think you’re going to struggle in 2020?
  5. Do you have any personal goals in 2020? – Not necessarily work-related
  6. What is your “word” for 2020 – What’s your drumbeat?
  7. Where do you need more from me?

I had all sorts of goals in crafting these questions. I hope they create nuanced discussions about strengths and weaknesses. I hope each person reflects on how they can empower themselves to drive our business forward—while understanding that the business isn’t the only thing we care about. I’m super curious to hear the answers.
 
So here’s my challenge to you. If you’re a manager feel free to copy the questions and use them in a discussion with your team. Or if you don’t have a manager who’s up for coloring outside the lines, then answer the question for yourself. 
 
Better yet, take the questions and answers to your manager. That transparent, nuanced and future-focused conversation you always wanted with your boss? It can start with you.

And you guys thought I was just after the job description and resume! Please. I’m going after any one-dimensional tool used in the talent marketplace. We are, after all, working in the multidimensional workplace.

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