How well does your Performance review process perform?

As we are coming quickly to the close of the 2011/2012 financial year (it’s 3/4 gone already), I have already been asked to review a number of Performance assessment review processes and documents for potential & existing clients.

Within most companies, this is one of “those” areas that causes painful anticipation, procrastination or avoidance, rolling of eyes or a feeling of dread

about what is going to be said, or what needs to be but hasn’t yet been said but is going to be now……

It is one of my beliefs that our language, ie the words spoken out loud as well as that little voice in our minds are both important in creating our experiences and opinions. In relation to this, I subscribe to 2 thoughts: 1) your words create your world and 2) you get what you focus on. With this in mind, perhaps it could help to overhaul the focus of your performance assessment processes for a start.

I hear people inter-use the expressions performance management, performance appraisal, performance development review and other similar terms in an unconscious way, thinking they all mean the same thing. Let’s stop however & untangle them.

  • Performance Management (PM) is usually a term used by HR folk when a problem needs to be fixed, ie; someone’s performance is less than ideal, a structured and closely managed process is commenced to ideally get them back on track and doing what you need them to do, or alternatively assist them to see it may be best to go elsewhere when you’ve done all you can.
  • Performance Appraisals or Assessments (PA) tend to look mainly at lagging indicators; the staff member’s past performance which may be great, not so great or a mixture of both. This is usually a backwards look without any real focus on or interest in future possibilities for them.
  • A Performance Development (&) Review (PDR) however, is a good balance of reviewing the staff member’s behaviour and performance with a conscious & intentional focus on their future development and upskilling to add value to them, the wider team and the business.

When you consciously start looking to possible future and development options, the focus changes from a backward looking session where both parties meet together once a year, the manager talks about what the staff member has done well, the staff member passively listens, agrees or disagrees (quietly or loudly), asks or is left wondering whether they will be getting a pay rise or not and not much else occurs. Both leave the room either happy or unhappy, thank god (or whomever) the process is over for another year, they get to tick the box to keep the boss happy, nothing much really changes past that discussion and a feeling of “what a waste of time that was” persists for yet another year. I even feel tired discouraged writing that.

When the interaction is consciously entered into with a forward looking focus on possible Performance Development pathway options and is informed by a Review of where they have been successful and/or may need more support and training, the way opens up for a much more useful and valuable discussion between both parties on the staff member’s possible future, creating opportunities for them, the team and the business, remember; you get what you focus on.

When both parties also plan and implement frequent more informal meetings with each other; weekly monthly or quarterly, short but focused to check on their progress, what you find is that the annual or 6 monthly PDR is a briefer, more relevant and far more valuable interaction with real outcomes which all parties can anticipate from a positive view point, not with dread. Doesn’t that even feel more energising to read about!

Go on give it a try & don’t be surprised if performance lifts at all levels.

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