The typical corporate performance review…a fascinating and at times, polarizing topic. Some think there are benefits and others, not so much. Regardless of where you land on the subject of formal mid-year or end-of-year performance reviews, most agree there is room for improvement.
So, for the past year I have tried new ideas around performance management with my team while still using a traditional performance management approach. I have already documented some of these techniques in a series of blog posts called the Scrum Master Performance Review.
In addition to what I have previously posted, here are a few personal behaviors I have focused on during the first half of this year and during our recent mid-year reviews:
Know the person you are giving the review to. You just cannot give an effective review without spending a serious amount of time with the person before hand. They must trust you fully and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are there focused solely on their success and well-being. This can only happen through relationship and mutual respect.
Teach, coach, and mentor during one-on-one sessions throughout the year. Leverage your scheduled one-on-one time to provide instruction, listen, ask questions, provide feedback, or mentor as necessary. This is the time to bring up areas of improvement and share any feedback you have observed or received.
Make real-time interaction a natural element of everyday life. Throughout the course of the day, provide encouragement and coaching as situations arise. You will also need an established relationship otherwise this will feel like micro-management and will usually be ill-timed. Also, the mantra “Heavy on praise, light on coaching” works best.
During the formal reviews, flood them with encouragement. Unless someone is really struggling in their role, my personal approach is to never mix positive with negative. You could say 20 positive things during a review and 1 negative thing and what do people usually remember?
Allow your people to soak in what they achieved. You will often hear managers say, “You’re doing great but here’s a couple minor things to work on.” Save the minor things for your one-on-one sessions and when delivering real-time feedback.
Allow your people to know how valued they are right now without thinking about what is next. You will also hear managers say “Well-done but the bar has been raised.” Well-intended but save the future for vision and goal-setting sessions.
Do something unique. This may seem a bit childish but instead of just filling out the required template supplied by human resources, do something creative for each person so they know this wasn’t just something you checked off your “to-do” list. For our recent mid-year review, I pulled quotes from feedback I received from team mates and packaged them up on one page titled “Why It’s Great to Be You.”
It’s not much, but it’s a start! Feel free to share your ideas around performance reviews in the comments below.