Make performance reviews highly valuable – Part I

How I made annual performance reviews a positive and highly valuable experience

On a regular basis I meet people who think that the performance review process in the organisation is a waste of time and a 10-minute conversation would be enough for the annual review. I even experienced it myself when I had a boss who thought that no more than five minutes should be necessary for such a conversation.

Research into intrinsic motivation shows very clearly the value of constructive feedback and performance review conversations. On the receiving end people consider feedback, even if critical but constructive, and annual performance reviews as a form of acknowledgement and a point to reflect on strengths and weaknesses as well as a moment to explore opportunities for their own development with their boss. Hence, the annual review if done well can have a great positive impact on the intrinsic motivation of your direct reports.

Performance review conversation

How to make annual reviews valuable?

General overview of an effective process

An effective performance review process can be split into three phases. The first one is the preparation phase in which you collect feedback in a structured way and compile this in such a way that you can use it for focused discussion. The second one is the conversation itself. This part in itself has two distinct parts following each other. You start it with a review of the year and feedback about what went well and what didn’t. Subsequently you go into forward-looking mode in which objectives might be set and development plans are discussed. The third and final phase is the follow-up and continuous feedback loop.

Next to having the right process it is very important that you consider a feedback conversation as an open dialogue about positive aspects and areas of development accepting that views may deviate. This may need to be reconciled to some extent in order to move forward.

I always consider a feedback process a two-sided process where you have responsibilities and your direct report has responsibilities. Both sides involved should feel responsible for fact-based evidence about what had happened throughout the year. Make sure that your direct reports understand their responsibilities and your expectations of their contributions to the process.

From my experience a good documentation of your fact-based evidence is very important and can make the whole conversation run very smoothly. Hence, I strongly recommend that you keep making notes of your feedback conversation with your direct reports throughout the year. Ensure that you always have specific examples and facts to support what you want to say. If you do this well it makes the appraisal conversation a simple summary of all conversations over the last 12 months.
There is a lot to cover in order to make it valuable; hence, I have split this blog in four parts:
Part I: Here is this part 1 I have briefly described a possible structure and effective process.

Summary: Key tips in general

  1. Keep a good documentation of your feedback conversations throughout the year.
  2. Do a thorough preparation of your review conversation.
  3. Consider the performance review a two-sided process with shared responsibilities between you and your direct reports.
  4. Make the review and open dialogue which focuses in its first part on review and feedback and in its second on forward-looking and planning.
  5. Before you kick-off make sure that you communicate your process and expectations to your direct reports so that he/she knows what to expect during the conversion.

The core of the series

So, now you can jump ahead to the rest of the series I have published subsequently between 2nd and 16th of December  
Part II: I am going to focus on the preparation phase which I consider vital for an effective feedback conversation.
Part III: I am offering some tips on how to conduct an review conversation either in the face-to-face or virtual setting effectively.
Part IV: The final part I will focus on the follow-up and a continuous process. As a closure I will finish with some key tips and hints to make the whole performance review process a straightforward and motivating experience.

So, if you’re interested in a more in-depth conversation about your particular challenge, please .
Or feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you very much for your interest.

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