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The PerformYard Blog

A practical look at building and implementing your perfect performance management process.

Applying Psychology 101 to Performance Reviews

For many college students, the introduction to psychology course can be one of the most popular classes on campus. Even though you might not have gone on to be a psychologist, what you learned in PSYC101 can still be useful as a professional.

Managing the whole “performance management” process is an important, but often challenging, part of what HR pros do. It can also be uncomfortable for both your employees and your managers. One of the biggest reasons that performance reviews fall flat and can be so uncomfortable is that the actual reviews are too few and far between to be effective. performance_cartoon

For those you that took Psychology 101, you know that the best way to reinforce or deter a behavior is to address it in a timely manner. The more time between a project and the review, the harder it is to learn the lesson.

As Melissa Fairman has mentioned, “you don’t need to have a formalized review time frame.” Removing arbitrary review cycles and allowing performance assessments to sync up with project milestones can increase the effectiveness of the process.

Here is how moving from an annual review process to an ongoing conversation can be beneficial for all involved.

Get Direction Along the Way

In many cases, by going a full year without having a constructive check-in with a supervisor, employees receive very little direction on how to grow and adjust. Furthermore, they have little idea of how they have progressed towards their annual goals until they have reached their goal deadlines.

Employees that are given feedback in a timely manner can better learn to repeat or improve upon a behavior when the experience is fresh. Additionally, they can more easily achieve their long-term goals because they can adjust to changing circumstances along the way.

Practice Makes Perfect

From a supervisor’s perspective, reviewing just once a year, or even once every six months, creates additional difficulties. For most people, giving criticism can make for an uncomfortable situation, particularly when it is negative. This is only made worse where the opportunities to be constructive are few and far between.

As you learned in your psychology class, the more you practice a behavior, the less you have to think about actually doing it. In this case, the more your managers get opportunities to assess performance, the less they’ll be distracted about the uncomfortable conversation and the more they can focus on the task at hand.

In your company, when communication is frequent and honest, everyone can be happier and more successful. By applying what you learned in PSYC101, you can help your employees and your teams reach their goals faster.

How have you adjusted your performance review process?

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