Is Your Performance Review Working For Or Against You?

How do you approach an honest discussion about performance and growth? Performance evaluation can cause jitters of anticipation and could leave employees feeling more discouraged than encouraged.

It’s easy to fall into the pattern of speaking down to individuals during a performance review or to assume a tone of criticism rather than appreciation.

What if there was an alternative approach to the performance review conversation? And what if those approaches included a neutral party? Do you think it would work?

Employee Led Performance Reviews allow you, as a manager, to empower the employee to take ownership of their career and help you see where and how they plug best into the organization. Instead of dreading the review and cringing to have the conversation, why not have them be in the driver seat?

Years ago I co-developed and delivered leadership curriculum for a University pipeline program for youth. The program met on Saturdays for six weeks consecutively. Now usually you don’t expect the type of parent who brings their child to a Saturday leadership program to have “run-ins” with the instructor, but on occasion, it can happen. You could never tell how the “parent-teacher” meeting would go and whether the parent would blame the instructors for not doing enough, whether they would lash out at the child, or both. Generally; however, the parent worked in concert with, not against instructors as we were all committed to seeing the child succeed.

I remember being on the other side of the fence a couple times and dreading one or two parent-teacher meetings. These were within traditional school settings and were times when I didn’t connect with the teacher, the teacher didn’t connect with my child, and it was a blame game for all. This all changed when I was introduced to student-led conferences.

In essence, the student would lead the conversation guided by the instructor and share projects and work they loved, enjoyed, and struggled with. The conversation became guided towards finding out what resources were needed to help the challenging areas and recognize the areas where effort improved. I really liked this approach, as it also made it easier for the teacher to share her challenged areas and future plan of action. I adopted this in my practice immediately and saw positive results.

An Employee Led Performance Review can assist to:

  • Empower the employee to outline areas where positive impact was made
  • Transform the conversation from a dominant focus on what is not working well
  • Remove the standard, cookie-cutter form of performance reviews
  • Uncover hidden areas of business growth that may not be previously verbalized
  • Show you care about helping your team succeed by empowering them to have a productive and positive conversation.

According to Insights for Professionals, this approach “can actually make workers happier, improving their productivity, and creating a closer relationship between themselves and managers.” Sujan Patel, writing for Inc., further emphasizes this point, stressing that associations of performance reviews are usually off-putting.

“When we think of performance management, we think of rules, forms, rating systems, procedure and policy…not only are we investing time and resources into systems that nobody likes, but an increasing amount of evidence suggests that dated performance management practices do little to keep employees happy and engaged.”

The little research done on employee-led reviews show positive trends; however, do not interpret this information to mean that your company should eliminate performance ratings or evaluation without a revised method to take its place.

Clear and effective communication will always be required.

Emily Peck of Huffington Post reports that companies that dropped performance ratings altogether found an increase in overall employee frustration and disengagement. This was because, without a proper structure in place, some managers skipped the review process altogether.

Without guidance, and a plan to effectively communicate, most would simply avoid it. There is an additional way; however, with Emotional intelligence training. This can help your employees develop awareness of strengths and weaknesses. This new knowledge can transform a performance review conversation and increase personal accountability.