It's common for employees to be nervous in the run-up to their performance reviews. Some organizations choose to do them every couple of months, while others prefer to stick to the traditional annual appraisal. But whatever option you choose, it's important that you are able to engage with employees in order for them to benefit.
The nature of performance reviews means they can be an unpleasant experience for the professional involved. After all, you're critiquing them and how effective they are in their role. Employees can react badly to criticism, but the more serious problem is when individuals become so disengaged that they ignore any feedback or guidance offered to them.
Disengagement in performance reviews is often a sign that employees have become lost in their role and don't feel invested in the company anymore. Gallup estimates these disengaged employees can cost businesses between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year, so how do you stop the cycle and get them feeling enthusiastic about performance reviews and their job?
Getting employees psyched about appraisals
For professionals to feel invested in their performance reviews it's crucial that meaningful actions are taken afterwards. This may mean assigning the management team certain objectives, setting goals for the employee that will genuinely improve their role, or taking action as a HR department. Whatever the steps are that need to be taken or who is responsible for carrying them out, it's important that these are set out and followed up.
This will help change employee attitudes towards their reviews, as it won't just be about criticizing their performance but about everyone helping them realize their true potential and make them the most valuable employee possible.
Adopting this strategy also means that everyone is working towards the same goal, preventing employees from feeling as though they are being singled out or picked on.
Why engagement is key to performance reviews
It's clear that there's a real business motive for organizations to want professionals to get behind performance reviews. Further research shows that having a clear strategy in place for employee performance management gives managers a much better chance of influencing learning and development and - as a result - boosting engagement.
But what sort of strategy should you be adopting?
1. Set clear expectations
Performance management starts from the second an employee begins working for your company. In the induction package you offer new starters, there should be clear objectives for their development and a timeline for when they will be expected to achieve this. This should, of course, come with the consistent and effective support of their management team but sets the standard you expect right from the beginning.
However, just because best practice is to set these expectations when an employee starts their contract, it doesn't mean you should ignore professionals with a decent tenure under their belt. Create a new strategy and ensure that every employee at the organization - management included - has clear standards that they need to adhere to, as well as ways they can progress and develop their skill set.
You would think this is the very basic role HR and management should provide, but around half of employees don't know what is expected of them in the workplace. Clear role expectations should be the first thing you do with any employee and use it as a springboard to set goals and business objectives.
2. Set clear goals
Once you have established the basic expectations that you have of each role, it's important that you also ensure clear goals are in place. Setting effective goals should be a collaborative process done with the employee, rather than dictated to them.
Of course, your priority will be the business objectives or the wider direction the company is heading in, but it's important that employees feel capable of achieving the goals you set them and in the specified timeframe. This is a crucial element but one that is often skipped. Communicating and discussing goals with employees allows them to see what contribution they make to the company as a whole, and why it's important.
3. Communicate progress
For goals and objectives to have a long-term impact, HR needs to ensure that there's a system in place for consistent and regular feedback. This can be done through performance reviews themselves if they are scheduled on a monthly or bi-monthly basis or in one-to-one meetings between managers and employees.
Communicating progress on goals and the objectives of their role ensures professionals stay engaged with the process and are constantly thinking about their skill set and how they contribute to the company. It's also a valuable opportunity for managers to praise the strengths of their team and reiterate how important they are to the organization's future.
These feedback sessions, regardless of what form they take, should offer employees the chance to flag up any issues they feel are preventing them from achieving their goals or just working to their greatest potential.