Conducting performance reviews is a constructive way of evaluating employee contribution and how they can improve irrespective of whether they are crème-de-la-crème, in-betweeners or underperformers. Generally, there occurs a discussion on managee’s strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, failures and any development needs or recommendations. But, between preparing for review and spilling the beans (done by the manager) is a phase where some managers experience performance appraisal anxieties like employees. Reasons being: unpreparedness, time crunch or genuine lack of performance evaluation skills despite enough data lying on the table.
Influenced by recent events
Sometimes your feedback may be governed by recent events. Interestingly it is called the recency effect. According to the freedictionary.com, it is a “phenomenon that when people are asked to recall in any order the items on a list, those that come at the end of the list are more likely to be recalled than the others”. This recent news that influences your judgment could be anything: someone relaying performance issues or even them having committed a blunder, big or small. But, the most unfortunate part is that you end up marking their work basis these instead of looking at the work they’ve done over a span of a year. Not fair at all, don’t you think?
Giving a vague, quick feedback
In fact, this doesn’t even qualify to be called a feedback. You’re probably a manager who has no time or probably any interest vested in helping your team members get better at the work they do. Last minute nudging them and telling them that they are doing ‘ok’ or ‘well’ or ‘poorly’ without citing the evidence does no justice to their contribution at any level. You ought to take time to analyse their performance to help them grow. Get to the specifics and have data supporting your evaluation of their work. Most importantly don’t think of performance reviews as a waste of time.
Evaluating personality traits
You are more focused on their personality traits like reliability, intelligence, impulsiveness, affability among a host of others when you should be evaluating their performance and subsequent results. These traits cannot intrinsic and can’t be changed, but you do have their behaviour on the line which can be kept in check. Make a keen note of that as these actions result in either completion or delay of work. They may be intelligent, but does that show in the work they’ve done or they may be affable and a social butterfly, but are they surrounded and learning from the right people?
Hesitant to give a negative feedback
Some managers assume that giving a negative feedback will light up the meeting room. As a result they avoid having a difficult conversation and keep it all flowery till the end, giving them a favourable (to their liking) rating and making only a passing remark on poor/weak performance areas. Instead of keeping things under the wrap, highlight improvement areas and while you do so make sure you state where you noticed they didn’t meet expectations.
You make performance review an annual ritual
Another unfortunate mistake is that you meet annually to assess outcomes of work done over the year. Didn’t you know that for any feedback to work and employee to grow, your active involvement is paramount? What if they needed your guidance, but they anyway carried on because they knew you’re an absent figure and of little help to them? This reflects poorly on you. Stay invested, informed and set realistic performance goals and while you’re doing so actively follow up on the same over monthly or quarterly meetings (performance management). Are they on track of off it? Do they need handholding? Collect feedback from their peers and give them a feedback. The stakes are too high if you remain aloof because you give an impression that you ‘just don’t care’. This is certainly not a sign of a good manager.
Stop fearing the unknown and work on how you can make your managees to look forward to being reviewed for their performance. Sharing a healthy bond goes a long way in keeping them motivated. Besides you will be able to justify the role you play in their professional career as a manager who always has their back whether they fail or succeed.