Do you remember your employees’ last performance review? How did it go? Well, according to a recent study, if your employee was a millennial, there is a 34% chance your review drove them to tears. That’s right, more than a third of performance reviews with millennial employees end up in tears! Yikes! With numbers like that, it’s pretty clear that the traditional performance appraisal process is no longer effective, and it’s time for a change and more intentional communication.
Let’s take a step back and think about what the purpose of a performance review is. A performance review should be a collaborative process between an employee and their manager. Ultimately, the goal is to identify areas of improvement and set goals for the future. However, many employees see performance reviews as a one-sided event where their managers point out shortcomings, missed expectations, and perceived failures.
The experience can not only cause stress and dread for your employees, but can also be detrimental to your organization’s progress. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, people matter — and as managers, we need to hear them. Here are some ways to transform your performance review process into a less stressful and traumatic experience for your employees.
1. Set your company goals.
Set SMART goals for your organization — that is goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. SMART goals help create direction and keep everyone focused on the end game. When setting goals for the company, it is essential to explain them and discuss them in detail with all of your employees to make sure everyone understands their role and the expectations of accomplishing those goals. Every single employee is a link in the chain. You can also set stretch goals for your company that push your most motivated employees to go the extra mile. If you do set some stretch goals, be sure to recognize extra effort, and reward employees who do go above and beyond.
2. Consistently check-in with your employees.
Consistent check-ins with employees are beneficial for a wide variety of reasons. Check-ins make your employees feel seen and heard and that their thoughts and feelings are valued. Frequent check-ins are important because not every goal is an annual goal. Traditional performance reviews that focus on employees meeting goals on an annual basis is not always appropriate. Some goals need to be evaluated on a quarterly, monthly, or even a weekly basis. This is an opportunity for you to check in on your employees’ progress, but also an opportunity for them to ask questions, update you on their progress, clarify expectations, and report back with what they need from leadership or team members to accomplish their goal. This ensures that there are no surprises at the end of the year. Consistent check-ins with your employees are much more helpful when measuring progress towards company goals than traditional annual performance reviews.
3. Engage your remote employees.
Your remote employees are a valuable asset to your company, but they frequently feel lonely, isolated, and oftentimes even insecure when they aren’t in the office. I’ve seen employees go from being the most confident people when they’re in the office, to the most insecure people on the payroll when they are working remotely. I’ve seen people who were accidentally left off of emails become convinced that they did something wrong and were going to get fired. This is obviously not a healthy or productive way to feel at work, but it’s easy to see how this could happen on a regular basis. There’s really no “virtual water cooler” for remote employees to have a chat with their coworkers or supervisors, and they don’t have the opportunity for a quick smile or “hello” while walking down the hall in the office. There’s a model I’ve been going by with my clients to help stem some of this and help remote employees feel more connected and engaged. It says that you should meet with your remote employees twice as much as you would if they were in-person. So, this means that you can’t wait until their performance review to check-in. If you’re meeting with your in-person employees on a monthly basis, you should meet with your remote employees twice per month. Remote employees need the extra touchpoints to stay connected.
Intentional communication is at the core of every employee performance review.
All three of these HR strategies revolve around one simple concept: intentional communication. By setting SMART goals, checking in more frequently with employees, and engaging regularly with remote employees, you are taking observable steps to improve communication that your employees will benefit from and appreciate.
For most managers in need of a performance review overhaul, we recommend spending 15 minutes per week with every one of your employees. Yes, you read that right! Don’t tell me you don’t have 15 minutes a week to spend with every employee. What else are you doing that’s more important? It’s a significant step toward meaningful change.
If organizations want to prevent further resignations of valuable employees, keep the crying to a minimum, and reduce their tissue bill all at once, they need to move away from traditional performance appraisal methods. Those that seek to implement these innovative ways of evaluating employee productivity are far more likely to see a happier workforce and more productive employees.
Sometimes intentional communication takes a little help…
If this bold approach feels a little daunting, that’s okay. It’s a very natural reaction to changing something you’ve been doing a certain way for so long — but it is a very necessary change. Flynn Barrett Consulting can help you make this transition and create a system that is more beneficial for both your employees and your business.