Before we look at creative ways of keeping the performance review alive, lets us look at the purpose of performance review. As the terms suggest, it is the review ( discussion, relook, evaluation) of the performance in the recent past. The review is with the intent of taking stock of what went right, what went wrong and ways of improving the performance or taking to next level. Hence the discussions should be around the event and/or situation so that the context setting is easier. The receiver is in an accepting mode of any input on performance. The more it is delayed, a natural resistance builds and then the receiver tends to get defensive. Even for the reviewer it becomes difficult to set the tone and context as the emotions or feelings around the incident are lost. This does not mean that the reviewer needs to take it out but needs to take the opportunity to sit down and talk it out. In this context, organisations today are looking at making this process less painful and come out with creative ways of giving feedback or assessing performance. The latest concept is gamification of the performance review process. This is the process of instant “pat on the back” or “ feedback on improvement” via moving to next levels of work, badges, public appreciations, team feedback. The process is structured in a manner that it builds adrenaline rather than demotivation in the team performance.
This requires availability of complete data online, transparent and fair rules setting, ease of implementation and the rules need to simple. the important part is that the participants should be able to see “atleast one person winning” which means the target set should be achievable. Because if no one is winning then it douzes the interest of the other participants. The manager has to play the role of referee and not coach while the game is in the play and be a coach after the game or in the intervals “performance review periods”. This letting go of people to charge and achieve as well as getting them back to take stock helps. It is said in management circle that “what gets measured gets done”. It also means that the manager has to constantly keep in touch with the team, keep questioning them, challenging them if they are following the right path, if they are in the right direction. This constant challenge keep them alive and motivated.
Another ways of keeping reviews alive is to find ways of rewarding / recognising “an accomplishment” during the process. Rewarding incremental accomplishments is much better than waiting for a “large” achievement. Secondly, find ways of raising the bar up, so that the employee is charged and rolls up on self momentum.
“Without performance data, there’s no performance management” your view on this line?
Without data, performance review process becomes a blame game and a cry session. No concrete discussion takes place as the manager is unable to establish his/ her views and the subordinate finds it difficult to accept subjective feedback. For example, it is very common for a manager to give feedback saying” you need to improve your attitude towards work” or “ you should have a positive outlook towards your colleague”. In 99% of the cases, such feedback does not help anyone. The subordinate does not understand what exactly to change while the manager is always frustrated that the subordinate does not act on the feedback. As opposed to this if the manager says “ In the last one month, it is observed that your class feedback rating has declined by 10% and the trainees have given feedback that you do not share examples to explain a complex concept” or “ The marketing team has shared that you have been dropping 25% of the leads shared with you in the last two months? Is there a problem with leads or do you need any assistance in converting the leads?” Such kind of data based factual inputs always helps the employee improve performance. Any feedback, without data is only a perception or judgement, which can always be contested. Moreover, it does not meet the objective of performance improvement.