It’s that time of the year again. Performance Reviews are almost like a swear word for some employees in the workplace. Some dread it because they just don’t have time for another meeting and feel it’s a top-down approach which they cannot avoid. Some dread it because they are nervous about the outcome and really need a decent increase to make ends meet next year.
Let’s face it, very few people look forward to performance reviews for the above reasons. Generally, people feel that performance reviews serve no meaningful purpose as it doesn’t help in improving work performance, nor does it help to improve working relationships. But before we get into what you can do make it a fruitful discussion with your manager, let’s first understand exactly what the purpose of a performance review is.
Per the dictionary, a performance review is a method by which the performance of an employee is documented. Performance is the action or process of performing a task or a function. Some synonyms for performance also describes it as achievement or fulfillment.
Review, on the other hand, is a formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change where needed. Other words that describe review include analysis, check, reflection or revision.
So based on the above, I think it’s fairly accurate to say that performance review is the reflection of an employee performance with the intent to change something. That something should preferably be focussed on behavior. I’ve also said many times and will say it again…There’s a reason why an employee behaves the way they do or do the things they do. Nobody ever comes to work and tell themselves…” today is the day I’m going to stuff up my career”. Do they make stupid decisions from time to time? Absolutely. Do they do stupid things that can cost them their job? Absolutely. But in my 20+ years of coaching staff, I’ve never come across a person who deliberately had a goal to put their career at risk.
So what exactly can you as an employee do, to make this a worthwhile experience for you? You have to understand that any performance discussions are part of your career journey and it all starts with the end in mind. It’s simple, you are here today, but you have a goal to be somewhere else in a few years’ time. What do you have to do to get there? And what should each day look like to ensure you get there?
Most of you work for a decent salary increase, a promotion or even a performance bonus. So that’s the end goal. That goal has certain requirements that must be met before you can claim that you’ve accomplished it.
Your first task, therefore, is to ensure you understand what those requirements are in the beginning of the year. It’s important that you get the information from your manager or HR department as soon as it’s available. Also understanding what is in your job description, is a good place to start. Goals are normally being established based on your job requirements, your level of responsibility and accountability. In most instances, these goals will be an extension of the overall company goals which are now translated into a language that you as an employee can understand. And if you don’t get that, have a conversation with your manager to ensure your goals are written as such that it’s relevant to your daily activities. Let’s use an example:
If the company has a sales target increase of 22%, and you work at the reception desk, you cannot be held accountable or responsible for the sales target. But, you can be held responsible and accountable for how you greet clients, how you answer the phone, how quickly do you respond to clients’ queries and how well you contribute to overall customer satisfaction. All of these things have a direct impact on how well the client will perceive the company service and whether they might decide to make a purchase from you again.
5 Goals are enough. I said…5 Goals are ENOUGH! Gone are the days where you have a laundry list of goals to achieve. Make sure you have a conversation with your manager to discuss the goals and the expectations. If you’re a manager doesn’t schedule these types of meetings with you, then you schedule the meeting with your manager.
In the absence of a leader in a situation, YOU become the leader.
Once your goals are clear, it’s time to sit down and determine how you will achieve your goals. Let’s continue with the above example.
Reception of Clients: If you feel intimidated by difficult clients, then ask your manager to send you on a course on how to deal with difficult clients.
Responsiveness to Client Queries: Is there anything that prevents you from managing customer queries efficiently? Does your computer have slow performance, do you have a poor inquiry/ticketing system at work that causes a lot of delays, is there a breakdown in the process that has an impact on how you deliver? There are really some cheap options for managing customer queries that you can suggest to your boss. Do the research and make suggestions.
You see, ensuring you have a smooth performance review at the end of the year is not just your managers’ responsibility. It’s just as much your responsibility. Utilize your managers’ feedback to guide you through your career. They are there to assist you.
Make sure you have regular check-ins with your manager to discuss the progress of your actions and to ensure it’s still in alignment with the company direction.
And always ask yourself every week or month…”what is the single most important thing I can do this week, that will take me closer to my goal?”
Happy performance reviews and don’t hate the system or your manager. They are doing the best they can. It might not be perfect for you, but they do have your best interest at heart.