Aarrgh, Performance Evaluations!

Annual reviews don't have to be "aarrgh" but most people I've worked with react to them with distaste, if not downright abhorrence. 

The chief complaint from leaders seems to be that they take too long to write. There's a cure for that.

The cure is, do the work throughout the year and don't wait until it's time to write a review to figure out what to say.

Here is a fundamental framework for good performance management. Practicing this has many benefits, not the least of which is no-surprise reviews that are easier on everyone.

1. Set expectations and goals up front. You should have a performance planning period, usually aligned with organizational planning and budgeting for the year. Define the big results you need for the year and who is doing what. Get agreements about what "good" looks like.

2. Provide necessary support and guidance - as in, tailored to the individual - such as mentoring, training, providing resources, acting as a sounding board, and more. Know your individuals so you can bring what they need rather than assuming each person needs the same thing to perform well.

3. Give ongoing positive and negative performance feedback and keep track of it. When people get the results you want, acknowledge them for it. If something is off track, do problem solving. Keep a simple log of feedback given and agreements made.

4. Conduct quarterly informal reviews. Take a step back from the daily insanity and look at the goals and initiatives together, solve problems if needed, reset as appropriate. Keep it current rather than waiting until the end of the year. 

If this seems time-consuming, I ask you to consider the fallout from leaving problems undiscussed, low morale from not being acknowledged for good work, and all the time you'll spend cleaning up if things get off track along the way. Not to mention all the hours trying to recreate the year so you can write a decent review. Or the fallout from writing a crappy, surprise review.

Do the work along the way. You'll thank yourself next year.


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