Between staying on top of day-to-day tasks and good old-fashioned fear of confrontation, there are hundreds of ways your performance reviews can go off track. But with 69% of employees saying they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized, it pays to have a steady appraisal system in place.
Here are four simple ways to get your performance review process back on track.
#1 - Know your goal
Your current business goal is surely not the same goal you set five years ago—it might not even be the same as the goal you had six months ago. But when was the last time your performance review process was updated to reflect those changes?
The very thought of combing through your appraisal forms to align each and every question with your latest top-level strategy would make any sane person want to run for the hills. But agillity is critical in today's business climate and you need a performance review process that can support big-picture decisions, no matter how quickly they happen.
Knowing where you're headed is the first crucial step to keeping performance reviews on track. Get clear on what the goal is at the organizational, team and individual level, then use a clear goal-tracking system to keep everyone empowered and accountable.
#2 - Lighten the load
Before Adobe famously changed its performance review process in 2015, managers were spending an average of 80,000 hours conducting annual reviews. At Deloitte, the number was a staggering 2 million hours company-wide.
Truth is, people don't like the annual performance review for the same reason they don't like the DMV. If your appraisal process feels arcane, time-consuming and bureaucratic, they'll do everything they can to avoid it.
If reviews aren't happening on time (or at all), take a close look at your process. What questions, systems or steps can be eliminated? It can be hard to let go of parts of the process that have been there since the beginning, but it's more important to have a system that works.
If there's a question that doesn't directly tie into a clear performance goal or KPI, don't be afraid to strike it out. Rest assured, when your performance review process is fast and effective, it will keep your teams on track.
#3 - Get specific
Business moves fast, which can sometimes leave a big gap between leadership and employees. If your review process doesn't reflect the real, on-the-ground goals and challenges your people are facing, it will feel totally irrelevant to your teams.
Sure, employees need to be tuned into the bigger picture. But they also need feedback as and when work is completed. In fact, 72% of employees believe their performance would improve if their managers would provide corrective feedback.
But if managers are operating under the belief that there's a one-time process in place for giving that feedback, they'll be all too happy to skip the kinds of uncomfortable, in-the-moment conversations that lead to better productivity now.
Encourage managers to adjust reviews to match goal changes at the ground level and give them free reign to deliver result-oriented feedback whenever the need arises. Make it easy for them to document that feedback in a central place where anyone who needs to can reference those insights for more relevant reviews in the future.
#4 - Make coaching easier
Speaking of managers, one of the biggest pitfalls of any performance review process is a manager's reluctance (or inability) to have tough conversations.
But linking performance reviews to specific goals and results not only makes it easier to give employees the feedback they need, when they need it—it also helps managers deliver negative feedback more effectively. Because it's all well and good to make blanket statements about "why managers need to be better coaches", but giving them the tools they need to do that is another game altogether.
A great performance management system will make it easy for managers to visualize what is working and what isn't, so they can focus their feedback on the hard data, and eliminate the hard feelings.