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April 2013

Giddy up …. it’s appraisal time! 3 questions to avoid the annual whipping

By | Performance, Results

Performance reviews….is it that time of year again…..already? Why is it that something that should be an effective tool to motivate your team often turns into that annoying form that you have to fill out once a year?

Last week I conducted a workshop with a leadership team of a global pharmaceutical company on how to conduct an effective performance review.  Everyone in that room had been on the receiving end of an appraisal and all of them had also found themselves in the position of delivering one.  They all agreed that at different times, both sides of the table was terrifying.  Why? It seems that tackling the tough stuff is one of the most feared things to confront – whether you are delivering it or hearing it.

Herein lies the problem…why are you waiting for the annual performance review to address the things that need to be stopped, changed or improved? How is it that you haven’t spoken about these issues prior to today? I know I would get my knickers in a knot if you waited six months to tell me that the way I was formatting a report was not company standard or the way I presented at a management meeting was ineffective. You can appreciate that I may get a little defensive, I might also get a little angry, I’ll probably throw in some excuses and then depending on the words you use, I might even need the Kleenex!

This tends to be where performance discussions go pear-shaped.

Storing up examples of behaviour, then rolling them out for the annual review thinking that this is going to be helpful or justify the “not met” expectations rating is not only unfair, but completely ineffective.  A person is not going to sail out of the meeting room with a spring in their step ready to conquer their revised KPI’s with that little pep talk.

And that’s the question really…..what is the aim of the review? What message do you want your staff member to hear? How do you want them to feel after their review?

Knowing the answers to these questions BEFORE the review are critical to ensuring the meeting is effective and you both leave with a clear understanding of 3 things:

1. What’s working (so they can keep doing it)

2. What’s not working (so they can stop doing it)

3. What they aren’t doing (so they can start doing it)

A performance review is an opportunity to praise and motivate (what’s working) as well as an opportunity to increase effectiveness (stop & start behaviours).

So before you start making a list of all the things that Matt, Mandy or Mark has done “wrong” or they haven’t achieved, ask yourself – have I spoken to them about this before? Have I given them an opportunity to improve?

To be truly effective, performance management needs to be a continuing day-to-day conversation, where people are receiving regular feedback on their performance and behaviours.  When feedback is immediate, you increase the chances of the behaviour being repeated (in the case of praise) or being modified (in the case of constructive criticism).

Forget the once a year review and remember that the number one motivator for people is feedback – it’s what keep us all going. 

“People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”