Performance reviews don’t enjoy a great reputation. Employees dread them, managers hate conducting them and, generally, they don’t appear to be effective. In fact, 78% of HR managers say their annual performance review doesn’t improve employee performance and only 56% of employees think they are reviewed fairly.
Universally hated though performance reviews are, when done right, they perform a great purpose: they encourage communication between manager and employee and they seriously improve employee productivity. It’s all about knowing what to discuss and knowing how to motivate your workforce. To do that, you might have to shift the focus of your appraisal to highlight the positives and celebrate small achievements.
When was the last time you started off your performance review by asking your employees about their proudest accomplishments over the past few months? Making this small change to your performance management system could make a huge difference to employee morale, engagement, and performance.
Asking about proud moments starts appraisals off on a good note
Knowing that employees regularly dread their appraisals, managers should be encouraged to ask about positive, proud moments in order to provide a sense of progress and positivity. Asking employees to reflect on their accomplishments since your last meeting will give them the opportunity to appreciate their own development. It’ll also allow them to demonstrate to you how much effort they put in and how rewarding they find their work.
Discussing proud moments discourages excessive self-criticism
If you allow your high performers to simply discuss their performance, they will likely focus on the negatives; areas that require work and issues that they can improve in the future. This is because high achievers tend to be extremely self-critical. In fact, many employees who are extremely productive actually suffer from Imposter Syndrome, so they aren’t actually the best judge of their own performance. If you were to judge a top employee’s performance based purely on their own reports, you might actually come away with the wrong impression.
Asking your employees to detail their proud moments forces them to be more positive. It’ll encourage individuals who are too prone to self-criticism to realize the advances they have made.
Have regular performance discussions to boost confidence
If you’re forced to regularly reflect on and share your recent performance highlights, you’ll ultimately benefit from increased confidence and faith in your ability. Employees who are more self-assured always outperform those who are constantly questioning themselves, so this is an important step to take.
Consider ditching your annual performance appraisal for continuous performance management. An increasing number of companies are making this transition, as the approach incorporates regular monthly check-ins and allows employees to receive valuable, timely feedback. Using this method, recent accomplishments will be fresh in the minds of your employees, and they will be more enthusiastic and willing to discuss their proud moments.
Monthly check-ins might feel time-consuming at first, but when you consider that they are far more efficient than annual appraisals, the transition is worth the effort. In fact, the more communication employees have with their managers, the better. It has been shown that employees who spend six hours per week talking with their managers are 30% more engaged than those who spend only one hour per week talking with their boss.
This technique encourages the delivery of employee recognition
Employee recognition is a problem in the modern workforce. Do you have an existing scheme in place to ensure that employees are rewarded and appreciated for their efforts? This doesn’t need to come in the form of a hefty bonus or an increase in pay. In fact, you’d be surprised at how much a simple “thank you” could impact employee morale. Ignoring employee recognition entirely would be a huge mistake, especially considering 66% of employees would leave a position if they felt underappreciated.
Asking employees directly about their recent accomplishments will provide managers with the opportunity to deliver recognition in an appropriate and timely manner. It keeps everyone up to date and ensures nobody feels undervalued for their efforts and hard work.
This question can help root out employee disengagement
If you ask your employees about recent accomplishments or proud moments and nothing comes to mind, or they appear completely deflated, this is a sure sign of employee disengagement. Their work should inspire and excite them, but if they are completely unable to derive any sort of pride in their work, action needs to be taken to remedy this situation. Perhaps their SMART goals aren’t suited to them, or they haven’t been given the appropriate training to perform their role well. Honest and direct communication will help both manager and employee to rectify this situation before it further deteriorates.
Make use of technology to track performance highlights
Employees should be able to make use of modern software to track their goals, record their accomplishments and notify their line managers of their successes. There is a huge amount of intuitive software available today and it comes in many different forms; from team collaboration software such as Slack to performance management software. Cloud technology facilitates the exchange of honest feedback and helps to create a more collaborative, forward-thinking atmosphere.
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About the Author:
Stuart Hearn has over 20 years of experience in HR. He is currently CEO of Clear Review — a modern performance management software system that boosts individual, team, and company-wide performance.