Oh, crap! Another performance review…
How many times have we heard–or uttered ourselves–this common lament? I’m guessing “lots” is a fairly accurate response.
The better answer, however, is “way too often.” The performance management process (of which some variation of an appraisal is essential) is the key to organizational improvement. To give that process the short shrift simply because someone has abused the effort sometime in your lifetime (maybe right now) is to say that, in effect, improving organizational performance is best accomplished by guesswork, hope, and good intentions. And by believing every supervisor who tells you, “Oh, yeah, I’m having regular performance feedback conversations with everyone who works for me.”
I was born at night, but not last night.
One of the scariest things I’ve read lately–in the long list of ill-advised approaches to leadership–is this talk of “getting rid of performance reviews.”
What a load of bunk.
We don’t need to, nor should we, get rid of them. In fact, it’s about time we doubled down and sharply increased the attention and use of this valuable process.
A puzzling part to me, is that most organizations attribute a poor performance review program or process to their Human Resources function. Another load of bunk. I’m not defending your HR department per se, but if your performance review efforts are anything less than successful, senior leadership–up to and including the chief executive–are squarely accountable.
A reminder… your HR shop is not an independent, self-employed entity, and if they haven’t heard you say differently, they are meeting your expectations.
Managing organizational performance is a leadership issue, not an HR function.
Some brief points to ponder:
- Why do them? Done correctly, performance reviews align individual efforts with organizational goals and objectives, provide a scorecard or barometer for performance (think pay, promotion, development, succession, training), and act as a solid vehicle in an employees’ developmental journey.
- Who leads this process? Senior leadership. It must–simply must–begin at the top. This top-down responsibility is as much a core responsibility as cost control and managing margins. Let’s be clear: If you, senior leader, don’t take this process seriously; if you don’t complete them timely; if you don’t enthusiastically support these efforts within your organizations, then their ineffectiveness is on your shoulders, no one else.
- Best practices include casting due dates in stone–no exceptions. The latter part of the review should spell out and discuss–in clear, unambiguous language–the expectations for the future review period. More is better than few. Use objective measurements whenever possible. Subjective analysis should be a severe exception, not a rule. If you really can’t measure it yourself, what makes you think an employee can?
Performance reviews are dead. Long live performance reviews. I’m fine with burying the old, HR-driven process that included so many cumbersome “extras,” provisos and “qualifications,” as long as we replace it with something that clearly defines expectations, provides measurements for those expectations, and follows up on the performance to those expectations.
Anything else is simply accountability avoidance. Let’s don’t do that, ok?