The performance review has become a rite of passage in the business world, yet many managers and employees fail to make the most of the opportunities these important discussions can provide. When used properly, the annual review process can provide managers with real insight into everything from employee perception of the company to ways to make the firm better and more profitable. When not properly used, the annual review process is worse than useless – a waste of time and a way to foster resentment and bad feelings among the rank and file workers.
Whether the firm you work with has been using annual reviews for years or has just implemented such a policy, it is important to use the process to its full potential. While managers will need to adapt these ideas to meet the needs of their own companies and their own employees, there are some things all supervisors can do to make the reviews they give more useful to themselves, their workers and the companies they work for.
One of the most frequently cited sources of frustration on the part of workers is the lack of concrete goals. Many companies and individual managers set goals that are vague at best, making it difficult for employees to tell how they are doing.
That lack of specificity can be a real problem when annual review time rolls around. Without concrete goals that can be measured fairly, it is difficult for managers to assess each of their workers and assign proper grades for each area of responsibility.
Setting goals that are easy to identify is one of the smartest things managers can do to make the annual review process smoother and more productive. If the company you work for has not already established clear goals for your department, a talk with your own supervisor may be in order. Using that discussion to provide more concrete goals for your workers can help everyone and allow you to get more out of the annual review process.
More than a once a year discussion
Another problem with the annual review process is it takes place just once a year. Just think about how difficult it would be to manage your employees if you only had one discussion a year, and you will quickly grasp the inherent limitations of the annual review process.
If you want to make the most of the annual review process, you can use the goals identified at the last review to guide frequent discussions with each of your workers. These sessions do not have to be extensive, or even formal. They can consist of something as simple as a quick chat over lunch about an ongoing project, or a post-meeting discussion about an important goal for the company.
No matter what form these discussions take, they can be incorporated into the annual review process to make it more useful. The more you know about where each of your workers stands regarding previously identified goals, the more effective the annual review period will be when it finally arrives.