I remember how every year around February-March time the HR manager in the company I worked for was literally haunting down managers to tell them for the tenth time that the due date for Annual Performance reviews is approaching and that THIS year it has to be done on time.
I also remember that as an employee, I definitely wasn't looking for this meeting either. Being told what I did wrong 10 months ago or what a great job I did last quarter didn't make any sense now and only left a bitter taste of "Whatever".
I am thrilled that many companies leave behind the traditional annual reviews and move towards regular coaching meetings and frequent feedback conversations.
But there is life in the old dog yet, and annual review done right can be beneficial for both manager and employee.
Here are a few tips on how to have a productive and stress-free (almost) conversation:
🔹 If you plan to do it in person, have a meeting in a small boardroom, not in your "big boss" office and sit side by side, not across the table. You are not two armies across the river; you are two colleagues having a conversation.
🔹 Tell openly that you are here not to focus on past mistakes but to plan for a better future. The priority is not to make sure that the employee is aware of their mistakes (believe me, most of the time they do), but to find out what kind of help you as a leader can provide and what employee is ready to commit to.
🔹 Remember, it's not your plans and goals; it's the employee. If you try to tell what to do instead of creating a safe space for the employee to set up their own goals, nothing good will come out of it.
🔹 Don't be shy and ask the employee to give you feedback. If you have trusting relationships, it can be an excellent opportunity for you to improve as well. But if the employee will hesitate or tell that everything is fine, it's time to look in the mirror and think about why people are reluctant to share their insight.
🔹 And of course, don’t forget to thank your team member for doing their best, for sticking with the company through pandemic, and for being open to changes.