We’re all familiar with the old adage, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” A critical function of the manager role is to be able to motivate employees, encourage their development, and foster an environment for open performance discussions. A lot of this happens during the employee performance review process, so it’s crucial that the conversations you’re having with individuals throughout the year are meaningful and productive. The beginning of 2020 is the perfect time to reflect on the previous year’s process to better understand how to structure reviews for the year ahead.

Melinda Kennedy, an Organizational Development Consultant for more than 15 years here at Caliper, recently hosted a webinar on exactly what makes an effective employee performance review. She says there are ways to examine your current processes to evaluate where and how to make your reviews as valuable and powerful as possible.

Here are three ways to take charge of your people management in the new year and get both employees and managers engaged and invested in employee performance review:

30% of millennials have reported quitting a job after a #PerformanceReview because they aren’t getting valuable feedback. @CaliperCorp has advice on how to re-examine your employee review process in the New Year: Click To Tweet

Should You Switch From Annual Reviews?

It’s difficult for employees to have a full understanding of how they’re performing if they’re only hearing about it once or twice a year. 30% of millennials have reported quitting a job after a performance review — not because they can’t handle the criticism, but because they aren’t getting valuable feedback that helps them understand their own performance and what they need to do to be effective. Then, ultimately, they feel blindsided with a poor review at the end of the year. 

Melinda discusses the “Growth Divide” in her webinar, noting that leadership and employees don’t always agree on what constitutes growth: Executive leaders consider things like market share, revenue, and other measurable indicators of company growth and competitive strength, while employees consider the things that are necessary for them to contribute and thrive within with organization. According to the study used in the webinar: 

  • 50% of employees want performance conversations on a monthly basis, but 69% of managers still only conductive employee performance reviews once or twice a year.
  • 50% of employees don’t feel comfortable raising issues with their manager in between reviews, but 75% say they’d be more proactive if they received more frequent feedback.
  • More than 90% of employees would like mistakes and opportunities addressed in real-time, but 67% of managers admit they remove mistakes from reviews because too much time has passed since the event to be relevant.

So, what does Melinda say to correct those issues? Make it agile. Many companies have eliminated the appraisal aspect of performance appraisals, and instead replace them with real-time feedback in the form of one-to-one conversations. Terms like “appraisal” have taken on negative connotations for both managers and employees, and as such, those conversations tend to begin from a space of negativity, rather than one of growth. Instead of rehashing the past year, leverage that data to drive the conversation into the future — how can information be used to set up an individual for success in the year ahead?

Melinda says to change the way we see performance reviews. It’s a cycle, not an event. Managers and employees should work together to plan their goals and development, manage the process closely throughout the year to ensure there are no surprises, review the progress, then repeat the process over and over. It’s not a singular event, it’s a cycle of planning, check-ins, and review.

Are Your Conversations Valuable?

You might have already implemented regular one-to-ones, but are you making the most of your time together? A live poll taken during Melinda’s webinar gathered the responses of HR managers and revealed that their gravest concerns with employee performance reviews are that they’re too long, too outdated, and too generic.

The goal of performance review conversations is to create a closed feedback loop — no gaps, stalls, or misconnections. A good conversation is one that is accurate, effective, and relevant to the employee — that is, feedback that’s useful to them, that they can accept as a tool to use in their development. Instead of using your reviews to think about what happened over the past year, reframe them as a way to look forward. Use this time as a way to examine future needs, future desires, and what you can do together to make it happen. 

Looking for advice on how to refresh your #EmployeeReviewProcess in the New Year? @CaliperCorp has 3 questions that will help start the conversation: Click To Tweet

How do you facilitate a more powerful conversation?

  1. Provide feedback in real-time. By addressing issues and opportunities in-the-moment, managers and employees don’t miss opportunities to grow, correct, or discuss behaviors at a time that is relevant.
  2. Understand the individual’s motivation. Not every employee is driven by financial compensation, and a manager’s motivations might not match that of an individual. Consider who is part of the conversation, and what drives their behavior. Seek to understand their motivation before you attempt to have a conversation so you can come from a place of empathy.
  3. Include individual development goals. Ensure that the individual can be confident that the conversation is of benefit to them, not just the company. Expectations can be set to meet company goals or standards, but also take into account the needs and wants of employees, too.
  4. Make it honest and meaningful. Be sure that the feedback you provide comes from a place of honesty, meant to provide real value to the individual, rather than reciting from a programmed, formulaic one-size-fits-all routine. Holding meaningful conversations is a great way to reinforce great behavior and propel performance forward continually.

Do You Have The Necessary Tools to Make Great Coaches?

Melinda explains two Caliper-backed philosophies for effective coaching:

Listening Plus

Go beyond listening. Give individuals extra attention to discern all there is to be heard. That can be done by listening for clues that might tell you more than just what their words are saying. Ask questions for clarity to ensure what you’re understanding them correctly, and repeat what you hear to ensure you’re truly aligned and you close the feedback loop.

Caliper-Powered Discovery Questioning: 

The concept behind discovery questioning is to use sharply focused questions that help individuals discover options for themselves, rather than outright giving them the answer. Ways to make this effective is to stay self-aware and remember your own tendencies as opposed to that of the individual you’re coaching. What might spark an idea for you, might not be the same for them. Instead, ask them questions that help them think about their options. Make sure the questions are relevant and help push the conversation forward.

While these tactics are useful, we aren’t all natural-born coaches. Most coaches will need help developing the skill set to ask the right questions and guide the conversation properly. The Caliper Essentials for Coaching report is a useful tool for putting the conversation into context and providing questions and recommendations to conduct a powerful discussion. Also, a valuable takeaway for employees is the Individual Developmental Guide to help them better understand their individual strengths, motivations, and natural tendencies and how to maximize them. 

To learn more about the ways the Caliper suite provides coaches and individuals with the tools they need to hold powerful and valuable performance conversations, contact our experts today and learn how development consultants like Melinda Kennedy can help your organization. To watch the webinar recording and learn more, click here.